Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Malam Reformis Dalam Kenangan

The whole week of last week, prior to the Malam Reformis Dalam Kenangan held on the 26th January 2007, saw me watching Abang organizing the big event rather closely. Almost every night afterwork since Monday, I’d be following Abang to the studio where his good friend, AbgN, who is also an infamous indie film-director, helped Abang trying to put some films and shots together for slide shows and docu-clips during the event.

On Tuesday night, we had Rahmat Haron the indie poet and thinker, reading his Sajak Reformasi (can’t remember the title). Unlike Abang, I’ve never been a sajak enthusiast that much, but I tell you this guy can read his sajak sampai boleh buat segala bulu meremang tegak. Menganga aku dengar dia deklamasi kat dalam bilik recording tu. Macam tak percaya the deklamasi came from a very mild-mannered, soft-spoken and humbled man.

For the sajak show, AbgN and his editor Mr.E painstakingly chose and collected hundreds of clips from the mountainous VCDs of various Reformasi events from 1998 till now. Itu tak termasuk lagi lagu latar tu.

On Wednesday and Thursday, we were there at the studio till midnight, relentlessly recording voice-overs for the 31 pejuang/aktivis yang dah pergi… antaranya, Abang Umar Tan, MGG Pillai, Hjh Ning and Dato’ Fadzil Noor. The voice-overs would then be combined with individual photos and slo-mo background of various demos and ceramahs. Infos & photos of the pejuang-pejuang were painstakingly compiled by Abg Nasir Isa and Abang himself, where Abang then edited each and every biodata of the deceased.

Teruk aku tengok Abang bekerja ~ dia Ketua segalanya. But looking at how passionate & committed he was with his work, never once lose track of his concept or lack of ideas nor hilang sabar in that short period of time, make me love and respect him even more.

Friday night was the big event ~ I took leave ‘coz I didn’t want Abang to letih-letih berkejar sana sini nak hantar aku kerja and then nak ambil aku dari ofis… plus, I wanted to be on stand-by just in case he would need any extra help that evening.

That Friday noon after prayers till 4pm, Abang was at the studio. For some reason, AbgN and Mr.E were in a big rut ~ they were lacking behind schedule, possibly because AbgN was known to be a perfectionist. Thing is, the night before though, they promised to deliver both shows by 6pm; but on that Friday evening, they said it had to be at 9pm instead (Slideshows were expected to start at 10pm).

Abang was still alright with their delivery schedule, trusting them to be able to finish on time coz we had a peek through both raw shows of Rahmat’s and the individual slide shows on Thursday and we were very happy with them. Even then, Abang helped them sussing through their schedule and omitted a lot of requirements for them to be able to deliver, or so he hoped...

The Night started on time with a humble turn-up ~ some 500 people, but it was alright and pretty comfortable... all in the fiery spirit of Muhibbah and Reformasi. It was, however, pretty chaotic for Abang since he had to take over AbgN’s position as the night’s Floor Manager (to control the event, lighting, sound system, etc). That said, Abang did a brilliant job since it wasn’t Abang’s first event managing of that scale.

(The biggest scale that abang had done was of course the demos, and the “Malam Budaya” in March 2005 where it was the first Anwar Ibrahim’s major function after he was released from prison. That was a major success ~ big huge crowd turn-up; all tickets sold out, some 2000 of them. Back then, AbgN was the Floor Manager too.)

That evening and night, I "risked" myself by helping around at the Hall, ushering the VIPs and the family members of the deceased; accompanied the SK staff at the registration and sales tables; and of course, occasionally ran to Abang for his sips of mineral water. Aku risau betul takut dia dehydrated ‘coz he’d been working too hard with nary enough time to stop and drink. And it would definitely be this night that the usual Special Branch Officers who frequent Abang's functions would recognize me and had me on camera. Lantaklah. For the love of my husband and my country.

The biggest agenda of the night would be the family members of the deceased coming up to the stage to speak of their loved ones; the show by the children of Tahanan ISA; sajak-sajak and shows by other activists; and of course, the peak was the Rahmat’s sajak video and the voice-over slideshows.

Since the idea of The Night came about as a memoir of Abg Umar Tan, the semangat perjuangan among the audience was even more intense and fiery when family members of Abg Umar (or fondly known as Ah Tan) were called up onto the stage for a word or two. Abg Umar's elderly mother and elder brother were not prepared for any speech, but they were both visibly touched by the camaraderie and waved back to the crowd, thanking the crowd for such support and love. I'm sure even they did not expect that Ah Tan was loved that much, until that night.

What can I say… Abg Umar was deeply loved and missed by all. Kami the crew ni lebih terasa ketiadaan Abg Umar, sebab selalunya kalau ada function-function macam ni, dialah yang paling sibuk sekali menolong…

At the same time, we at the sales table were also busy putting in readily-printed VCD covers into plastic cases, supposedly for the two said videos, which will be burnt onto cds at the venue and sold at RM5 each.

Of course I didn’t know what was happening behind stage. But when Nurul Izzah came up for a speech (which was not at all in the jadual) and then Saari Sungip started reading the biodatas instead of my voice-overs and the slideshows… I just could tell something disastrous was brewing.

True enough… the videos didn’t arrive ~ AbgN & Mr.E failed to deliver. People then started to leave as Saari tried his best to continue reading the biodatas. I ran backstage to Abang to tell him what was happening … but saw instead Tian, Ginnie the M.C and the Studio Exec that Abang had rented all the equipments from sitting sullenly around Abang who was sitting on the steps beside the stage. I never seen Abang like that before ~ looking so frustrated, disappointed and miserable. He looked as if he couldn’t care less. It was just so not Abang.

I knew I had to go back to where I was… it wasn’t a good time to pester.

Soon, Saari ended his biodata reading of not even half of the deceased. And thus the night ended, at about a quarter to 11pm.

However, friends (such as Abg Zul Noordin, Pak Syed Hamid, Syed Husin, DSAI, etc) who knew Abang’s previous event managing works, knew that the night did not end the way it was supposed to end. I just hugged and kissed Abang back-stage, and told him that all in all, he had done brilliantly even without the videos.

It was a few minutes past 11pm that AbgN & Mr.E finally arrived at the hall. AbgN went straight to Abang who was sitting with me at the sales table looking visibly upset. They left the table to discuss. But even after that, Abang was still not a happy man.

All in all though, it was a really good night. You can read about it here and here.

Back at home, all weary and drained, we talked long through the night. I knew I had to let Abang vent out his frustrations. What upset him the most was that not only AbgN failed to deliver and had him uninformed way beforehand, AbgN was also unapologetic over the non-deliverance too.

I asked him what he wanted to do with the two almost-completed videos. Abang just told me he needed time to calm things down between him and AbgN before he could think of anything. What really upset him was that he trusted his friend 110% to be able to deliver. If he would’ve known in advance that his friend cannot perform in stress, then there would certainly be a Plan B which would be way cheaper.

I reckon that was a real true test of friendship, no…? That your own close friend failed and embarrassed you big time.

A few days ago, Abang said he planned to have a future screening-gathering, where both videos would be screened, plus, maybe, a short docu-film.

So we’ll meet again next time, ya. And this time there’ll be Plan B, shoud anything untoward like this happening again, best friend or no best friend :- )



goboklama said...

sorry to hear that. kena sabotage kut? pernah sekali trserempak dgn.geng2 reformis kat jln.TAR, masa tu isu petrol naik le. semangatnya tengok,ingat nak join,BB tak kasi sbb.manyak kelije.

Roti Kacang Merah said...


i pun bitau my hubby, sabotaj kot? hubby said, not by AbgN.

I never seen them demonstrators in big big crowds, only in medium-sized groups. Though standing around among them,I never joined them either. Hubby tak galakkan coz takut jeopardized my position at work :-D


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