January 15, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 — A pro-Barisan Nasional (BN) woman activist has become the latest Malaysian Internet phenomenon with her “Listen, listen, listen” diatribe after video clips of her public rebuke of a local university student went viral.
Parodies of Sharifah Zohra Jabeen, president of the little-known organisation Suara Wanita 1 Malaysia (SW1M) that is seen to be aligned with the ruling BN, have spawned on various social media platforms including YouTube and Facebook and has also been picked up and incorporated by a couple of food and beverage joints as part of their advertising gimmick in the last 24 hours.
Controversial Johor-born singer-songwriter Namewee, was even inspired to pen a song dedicated to Sharifah, which he titled “Listen” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qcd6GkPM-k&feature=player_embedded) and uploaded on YouTube earlier today as part of his “Tokok” series.
“Listen, listen, listen, listen, listen. This is a democracy country. I allow you to speak. But when I speak, you must listen.
“Listen, listen, listen, listen, listen. Don’t compare our country with other countries. If you want to compare, what are you doing in Malaysia?” said the bearded 29-year-old, sporting a black “Tokok” tee and goofy silver-rimmed dark shades of two hands with their middle fingers extended upwards.
“But we can compare to the animals. We should compare to the kuching in Cuba, the tikus in Argentina, anjing di Malaysia because the animal are happy with the government [sic],” he added spoofing Sharifah’s remarks to University Utara Malaysia (UUM) student, Bawani K.S. in a video recording of an the open forum held last month.
The three-minute clip has generated 24,404 views and drawn 2,970 likes and 58 thumbs-down at the time of writing.
The artiste, whose real name is Wee Meng Chun, shot to notoriety in 2007 with a rap parody of the national anthem “Negaraku” and is well known for his musical satires on a wide variety of subjects.
A two-minute dance remix version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL25dpv_cg0&feature=player_embedded) of Sharifah’s remarks produced by Yuri Wong of local music house, The Factory Music Studio, is also up on the popular video-sharing site.
Grilled chicken restaurant chain, Nando’s, also took a jab at Sharifah, in its latest advertisement, telling Facebook followers to “Listen. Listen. Listen. Listen. Our Chicks are A-Okay”.
Local pub, Dukes & Duchess, also sent out an open call to its Facebook patrons to join them in a “Listen, listen, listen” party this Saturday.
In a promotion, the watering hole, located in the Taman Tun Dr Ismail suburb on the fringe of the national capital, urged patrons to “bring your pets to D&D and listen to their problem~If you are not happy to what you heard you can leave [sic]”.
Other Internet memes featuring portraits of Sharifah with her now infamous tagline “Listen, listen, listen” and various punch lines have also taken off.
A meme is defined as an idea, behaviour or style that swiftly replicates and spreads from person to person within a culture.
The original video posted last week, featured Sharifah as host of a university forum publicly chewing out law student, Bawani who had stood up to voice her views on the Bersih electoral rally and free education — with remarks such as “when this is our programme, we allow you to speak” and “when I speak, you listen”.
Cutting off Bawani mid-way, Sharifah told the student to “Listen!” a whopping 11 times and even took away the microphone to stop the former from speaking further.
“Number one, when this is our programme, we allow you to speak,” Sharifah said, and then added, “Number two, when I speak, you listen.”
Sharifah also quelled another student who attempted to speak out, saying insistently, “Let me speak” before asking the rest of the auditorium audience: “Students in the hall, 2,300 students everywhere. Did I give her respect? Did I give her respect? I came up to her, shook hands with her and gave her respect as another woman. Do you think I need to answer her question with this attitude?”
She then labelled Bersih co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan an “anarchist”, and criticised Bawani for highlighting the need for free education in the country, even telling her “if you equate Malaysia to other countries, what are you doing in Malaysia?”
“Go to Cuba, go to Argentina, go to Libya, go everywhere. Because all the students in this hall are happy with whatever the government does for them,” she said, and ticked Bawani off for having “a very least of pendidikan [education]”.
The forum, titled “Seiringkah mahasiswa dan politik?” (Are graduates and politics aligned?), was held at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) in Kedah on December 8.
Undergraduates in local universities have in recent years become increasingly more vocal and critical of the government, more so after the Najib administration moved to loosen the law allowing students to participate in politics, in a bid to draw support from the younger generation who are seen to make up a substantial voter demographic group.
Last year, several student groups took part in demonstrations nationwide to demand greater freedom and free university education.