Poems on Human Rights

The promotion, preservation and defence of the Freedom of Expression can take many forms. For example, HAKAM has in the past organised several events in promoting the Freedom of Expression, namely, the Defending Freedom of Expression in the Arts (2003) event and the Festival of Rights (2005) – and will continue to create opportunities to present or support more such events in future.

Festival of Rights 2005

Festival of Rights 2005

‘Expression’ can take many artistic forms – not only through songs, dance, plays and other performing arts, but also through poetry, paintings, drawings, books and other literary writings or recordings.

We are pleased to list here a collection of poems on human rights for your reading pleasure ….

 

Cecil Rajendra - Penang Monthly file pic

Cecil Rajendra


Poems by Cecil Rajendra

Cecil Rajendra is a past President of HAKAM and a former HAKAM Exco member.

Cecil is famous not only for his work as a lawyer-activist, but as a poet. In 2005, he was awarded the Malaysian Lifetime Humanitarian Award for his legal aid work and inspirational poetry. That same year, he was also nominated for the Noble Prize for Literature.

 

The Animal & Insect Act

Finally, in order to ensure absolute national security they passed the Animal & Insect
Emergency Control & Discipline Act. Under this new Act, buffaloes cows and goats were
prohibited from grazing in herds of more than three. Neither could birds flock, nor bees swarm .....
This constituted unlawful assembly.

As they had not obtained prior planning permission, mud-wasps and swallows were issued
with summary Notices to Quit. Their homes were declared subversive extensions to private property.

Monkeys and mynahs were warned to stop relaying their noisy morning orisons until an official
Broadcasting Licence was issued by the appropriate Ministry. Unmonitored publications &
broadcasts posed the gravest threats in times of a National Emergency.

Similarly, woodpeckers had to stop tapping their morse-code messages from coconut
tree-top to chempaka tree. All messages were subject to a thorough pre-scrutiny
by the relevant authorities.

Java sparrows were arrested in droves for rumour-mongering.

Cats (suspected of conspiracy) had to be indoors by 9 o'clock.

Cicadas and crickets received notification to turn their amplifiers down.

Ducks could not quack nor turkeys gobble during restricted hours.

Need I say, all dogs -- alsatians, dachshunds, terriers, pointers and even little chihuahuas -- were muzzled.

In the interests of security penguins and zebras were ordered to discard their
non-regulation uniforms.

The deer had to surrender their dangerous antlers.

Tigers and all carnivores with retracted claws were sent directly to prison for concealing lethal weapons.

And by virtue of Article Four, paragraph 2(b) sub-Subsection sixteen, under no
circumstances were elephants allowed to break wind between the hours of six and six.
Their farts could easily be interpreted as gunshot.
Might spark off a riot .....

A month after the Act was properly gazetted the birds and insects started migrating south,
the animals went north and an eerie silence handcuffed the forests.

There was now Total Security.

By Cecil Rajendra, Refugees & Other Despairs, 1980

cecil-rajendra-2

Cecil Rajendra is a Past President of HAKAM, and a former Exco Member of HAKAM.

Raffel (1989), in his essay Malaysian Plainspeak says, “Rajendra is without question, the best English language poet in Malaysia”.

Nazareth (1989), in his article World Literature Today speaks of Rajendra as “fearless in his writing ... not having any ideological biases: he exposes and attacks all those who are anti-people. Quoting the ‘Far Eastern Economic Review’, Nazareth says that Rajendra is a “one-man pressure group, committed to awakening people to the social evils that beset his country and the world in general”.

In 2006, Rajendra was also nominated for the Nobel Literature Prize. Although he did not win, he deems the nomination itself a great thrill and honor (The SUN newspaper).

“Dynamic” was how a reviewer of Britain’s Times Literary Supplement judged Rajendra’s work.

Addison (1982) admired Rajendra’s work by saying that “The whole experience was a complete, if unconscious, refutation of the academic and disengaged approach”. (Keith Addison)

The Romantic Patient

Penang-based lawyer-poet Cecil Rajendra - The Star file pic

Penang-based lawyer-poet-human rights activist and Past President of HAKAM, Cecil Rajendra - The Star file pic

The report said, he
had been suffering
from strange delusions
of justice and equality;
that he believed in
such myths like love
brotherhood and liberty.

Worse, the man in question
had visions of an open
society: free from poverty
bigotry and corruption.
He also had a long history
of dreams of a friendlier
environment for his children.

These hazardous hallucinations
(the report went on to say)
precipitated the patient into
speaking out at public forums
and writing a series of articles
which forced our authorities'
hand in stopping the propagation
of such an inflammable material.

After three short months
in a Government facility,
followed by another nine
of counselling and therapy,
the patient can be deemed
(the report concluded) to
have been truly rehabilitated;

he is now in a position
to take his rightful place
in the ranks of the establishment
- fully cured of all his romanticism!

By Cecil Rajendra

cecil-rajendra-2

Cecil Rajendra is a Past President of HAKAM, and a former Exco Member of HAKAM.

Raffel (1989), in his essay Malaysian Plainspeak says, “Rajendra is without question, the best English language poet in Malaysia”.

Nazareth (1989), in his article World Literature Today speaks of Rajendra as “fearless in his writing ... not having any ideological biases: he exposes and attacks all those who are anti-people. Quoting the ‘Far Eastern Economic Review’, Nazareth says that Rajendra is a “one-man pressure group, committed to awakening people to the social evils that beset his country and the world in general”.

In 2006, Rajendra was also nominated for the Nobel Literature Prize. Although he did not win, he deems the nomination itself a great thrill and honor (The SUN newspaper).

“Dynamic” was how a reviewer of Britain’s Times Literary Supplement judged Rajendra’s work.

Addison (1982) admired Rajendra’s work by saying that “The whole experience was a complete, if unconscious, refutation of the academic and disengaged approach”. (Keith Addison)

Death of a Village

Death comes a-calling

Death comes a-calling

Here
intimations of death
hang
heavy in the air
Everywhere
there is the stench
of decay and despair

The river
strangled by
exigencies
of industrialisation
is dying….
and nobody cares

The fish
in the river
poisoned by
progress’s vomit
are dying….
and nobody cares

The birds
that feed on the fish
in the river
poisoned by
progress’s excrement
are dying….
and nobody cares

And so
a once-proud village
sustained
for centuries
by the richness
of this river
dies….
And nobody cares

To that mammon
DEVELOPMENT
our high priests
sacrifice
our customs
our culture
our traditions
and environment
and nobody cares

We blind mice
We blind mice
see what we’ve done
see what we’ve done
We all ran after
Progress’s wife
she cut off our heads
with Development’s knife
have you ever seen
such fools in your life
as we blind mice?

By Cecil Rajendra

cecil-rajendra-2

Cecil Rajendra is a Past President of HAKAM, and a former Exco Member of HAKAM.

Raffel (1989), in his essay Malaysian Plainspeak says, “Rajendra is without question, the best English language poet in Malaysia”.

Nazareth (1989), in his article World Literature Today speaks of Rajendra as “fearless in his writing ... not having any ideological biases: he exposes and attacks all those who are anti-people. Quoting the ‘Far Eastern Economic Review’, Nazareth says that Rajendra is a “one-man pressure group, committed to awakening people to the social evils that beset his country and the world in general”.

In 2006, Rajendra was also nominated for the Nobel Literature Prize. Although he did not win, he deems the nomination itself a great thrill and honor (The SUN newspaper).

“Dynamic” was how a reviewer of Britain’s Times Literary Supplement judged Rajendra’s work.

Addison (1982) admired Rajendra’s work by saying that “The whole experience was a complete, if unconscious, refutation of the academic and disengaged approach”. (Keith Addison)

Nite of de Iguana

Kuala Lumpur: The "heroin-filled condoms" doctors removed from the stomach of a man who claimed to have swallowed iguana eggs have been certified as iguana eggs. City anti-narcotics chief said the chemist's report confirmed the three objects removed from S. Adinarayanan's stomach were iguana eggs.

Doctors who had operated on him after he had complained of stomach pains found three oval-shaped objects which they thought were condoms stuffed with heroin and called the police.

-- 'The Star'

iguana1

So one nite
my wife she tole me,
"Ayah, really lah
nowadays you tak guna."
I say, "Wat you mean,
wat you mean, wassamatter?"
She say, "You know lah
dat ting, dat ting ...
no mo fun, too fas lah."
So nex day after work
I go to see dis bomoh
explain my deligate probrem.
He tell me, "Dat kondishun
quite common, no probrem ...
urut also can, but urut
ohnee temporaree solushun.
I have sumtin better
much much better, but will
cos you plenny, plenny dollar."
I say, "Come on, pachee
doan play de fool wit me.
Tell me how much lah?
I no cheepskate wan.
Money no probrem when it
coming to looking after
der wife an der thungachee."
Dis bomoh den tell me
“Bess cure in town is egg
of iguana se-biji, se-biji
swallowed whole wit honey."
"I gip him pipty dolla
and makan tiga telor iguana.
I go home ready for ackshun
but all I get is plenny
stummach-ake and constipayshun
Adoi, pain terror, brudder;
so much so nex day I
mus go to Hospital Besar.
After X-ray, doktor he say
he must rightaway operayshun.
So dey put me to sleep
my han hancuff to de bed
and everywhere de mata-mata.
“What's going on, man?”
I ask de fierce sarjan.
Deffler say, "Adinarayan,
You a bad, bad man
To try an smuggle de
dadah in your stummach
bungkus in der condom."
I say, "You crazy or vat?
Dat no dadah, man
dat is egg of iguana!"
An den you know vat
he say, dees crazee sarjan?
Deffler say "Vereee funnee,.
Deh Adina, you tink
you can teech your
granmudder to suck eggs, ah?"
So 5-day awreddy I in bed
with hancuff an de sarjan
wile dey send de iguana egg
to testing in Camistry Deparmen.
And den dey fine out
(dees stoopid mara-mata)
wat I dun tell dem all along
dat in my poor stummach
is no topi perancis dadah
but reelly de egg of iguana.
Eye-yo, kadavallay, so much trubble
lah brudder, an all becoz i took
three leetle egg of de iguana
to help, you know lah, tahan lama.

By Cecil Rajendra

cecil-rajendra-2

Cecil Rajendra is a Past President of HAKAM, and a former Exco Member of HAKAM.

Raffel (1989), in his essay Malaysian Plainspeak says, “Rajendra is without question, the best English language poet in Malaysia”.

Nazareth (1989), in his article World Literature Today speaks of Rajendra as “fearless in his writing ... not having any ideological biases: he exposes and attacks all those who are anti-people. Quoting the ‘Far Eastern Economic Review’, Nazareth says that Rajendra is a “one-man pressure group, committed to awakening people to the social evils that beset his country and the world in general”.

In 2006, Rajendra was also nominated for the Nobel Literature Prize. Although he did not win, he deems the nomination itself a great thrill and honor (The SUN newspaper).

“Dynamic” was how a reviewer of Britain’s Times Literary Supplement judged Rajendra’s work.

Addison (1982) admired Rajendra’s work by saying that “The whole experience was a complete, if unconscious, refutation of the academic and disengaged approach”. (Keith Addison)

To My Country

GeorgeCarlinQuoteif i did not care
i would not dare
chart your imperfections
i would sing
only your praises
picking the best
ignoring the rest
but i am no
starry-eyed lover
i cannot cover
your many blemishes
so if i snarl
at your greed
your subterranean
prejudices...
the callousness
of your children
your many unkindness
bear with me beloved
love and hate
are forged
in the same cauldron
faults in another
that would not matter
in our loved ones
assume
cataclysmic proportions
one loathes the worst
in those one loves the best
and if i did not care
i would not dare
chart
your many imperfections

By Cecil Rajendra

cecil-rajendra-2

Cecil Rajendra is a Past President of HAKAM, and a former Exco Member of HAKAM.

Raffel (1989), in his essay Malaysian Plainspeak says, “Rajendra is without question, the best English language poet in Malaysia”.

Nazareth (1989), in his article World Literature Today speaks of Rajendra as “fearless in his writing ... not having any ideological biases: he exposes and attacks all those who are anti-people. Quoting the ‘Far Eastern Economic Review’, Nazareth says that Rajendra is a “one-man pressure group, committed to awakening people to the social evils that beset his country and the world in general”.

In 2006, Rajendra was also nominated for the Nobel Literature Prize. Although he did not win, he deems the nomination itself a great thrill and honor (The SUN newspaper).

“Dynamic” was how a reviewer of Britain’s Times Literary Supplement judged Rajendra’s work.

Addison (1982) admired Rajendra’s work by saying that “The whole experience was a complete, if unconscious, refutation of the academic and disengaged approach”. (Keith Addison)