(for Raja Petra Kamarudin∗)
Three years before I was born —
In nineteen sixty
Before I could even stick out my tongue
(in a somewhat nifty, nefarious) Act, they tore it out.
-The tongue, James, the tongue.
I could hear them argue from heaven
And almost didn’t come down.
In their black robes and white wigs
They talked about untouchable pigs
I say, ISA, I heard them say
For any I say after eleven, another one chimed
Or seven, for this or that reason, the other one rhymed
The tongue is just a figure of speech.
It is legislature. It is human nature.
We are doing it to prevent future grime
From coating the surface of the Malaysian preface
We are doing it to prevent future crime.
Understand this. I say in English.
To keep the streets of Malaysia clean
In nineteen sixty before I could open
My mouth and say the sky is falling down
They plucked away
Our candy pink tongues
And the cry for four freedoms
Died like Roosevelt in our lungs.
©2008 Anushka Anastasia Solomon
∗ ISA –Malaysia’s Internal Security Act of 1960 provides for preventive detention without warrant of any Malaysian citizen suspected of being a threat to national security.
∗ Raja Petra Kamarudin is a Malaysian Muslim blogger detained under Malaysia’s Internal Security Act. (ISA).
I will be writing my thoughts on this poem down. Other Malaysians continue to either keep vigil in prison or live, as I do, in fear. Fear is a profound emotion, not necessarily overcome by a profession of faith from half a world away. Raja Petra Kamaruddin (his wife Marina and family) may profess a faith different from mine, but evince greater courage. The other detainees and their families are in my constant prayers.