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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

AsiaweekTimeAsia NowAsiaweek

MARCH 3, 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 8

The Play's The Thing
A comic look at ordinary people in crisis
By SANTHA OORJITHAM Kuala Lumpur

    ALSO IN ASIAWEEK
Cover: The Scapegoat?
Blamed for the riots surrounding the fall of Suharto, controversial ex-general Prabowo Subianto tells his story
- Investigation: No single "mastermind" was behind the May 1998 turmoil. There were many players, and many plots
- Insight: Re-examining Prabowo's record in East Timor
- Insider: How the general and son-in-law benefited - and was compromised - by being part of the First Family

Editorial: The Internet is the most compelling agent of economic reform
Editorial: A good year for Kim Jong Il - but watch out

Malaysia: The real campaign for national leadership heats up
- Anwar: A decision on Mahathir's testimony is put off again
- Shadows: A play looks at Malaysia's troubled political soul

Hong Kong: The former colony is starting to trust the motherland

Taiwan: Beijing demands unification talks - or else

Japan: Obuchi raises (but doesn't fire) the starting gun for polls

Cambodia: A culture of violence and impunity undermines justice

Fashion: The spirited new styles suit Asia's mood
- Accessories: The rule is - there is no rule
- Menswear: Casual, chic - and inspired by womenswear
- Kenzo: The Japanese couturier bids farewell to the catwalk

Tom.com: Investors rush for a piece of a Hong Kong company with no history, few employees and lots of hype

Kosdaq: Korea's over-the-counter stock market soars

Scandal: Can Manila recover from the BW Resources fiasco?

Investing: Betting on the New India

The Net:
The freebie formula gets tested in Singapore

Cutting Edge: A keyboard you can fit on your Palm

Newsmakers: Japan's crown prince vents his anger

Viewpoint: To fight corruption, reform China's politics
    RELATED STORIES

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A woman runs on stage, shouting obscenities about being sprayed with teargas. She is joined by three others, all hiding from the demonstration outside. They pass the time talking, including about a trial of a girl accused of murdering her boyfriend. "She was dragged to court even though she was completely innocent," says Ms. Red, a poor-little-rich-girl. "She needs keadilan!" says Ms. Purple, a demonstrator. "Reformasi!" shouts Mr. Orange, an undercover cop.

What's this? Keadilan is Malay for justice, and the name of the party headed by Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of Anwar Ibrahim. Reformasi was the cry of protestors after he was ousted from government in 1998. Is there is a link between the play - billed as a "comedy of sex, violence and shopping bags" - and the Anwar saga? Don't ask playwright and director Amir Muhammad. "I'm not trying to deliver messages," he says.

Amir used to write a popular literary newspaper column, but it was dropped after the November elections. (He was told it was "anti-establishment.") Now he writes online. "The Malaysian Decameron," after the 14th century Italian collection of a hundred tales told by people escaping the plague, is his first play and will be performed in Kuala Lumpur in late February.

His characters tell eight tales about ordinary people, abuse of power, the inequalities between rich and poor. "They seem to have nothing to do with the big picture, but they are part of it," Amir says. In one scene, Mr. Pink, a cynic, says: "This has nothing to do with anything up there! No Anwar, no Mahathir, no nothing! Just me - and a girl." And Malaysia.


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