Singapore Writers Festival 2012: Opening Ceremony and Sessions

Last Friday, Paul Tan (Festival Director), Lawrence Wong (Acting Minister (Designate) for Culture, Community and Youth) and Philip Jeyaretnam (Chairman Steering Committee), officially put their fingers to launch the Singapore Writers Festival. Since then, I have attended several sessions which I have found to be truly exciting and for some of them, inspiring.

 This panel session is called Countertext: Fact or Fiction. What I learn from this is when Brian Castro (second from right), said that readers will always identify with the characters in his book; when he made those figures a composition of characters and not just having a singular personality. 

Ream to Reel. From left, Ahmad Fuadi, Rafaat Hamzah, Ahmad Tohari, Sanif Olek.

Rafaat say there is no market in Singapore’s 650k Malay population – worse if it’s an info-ed productions. Context for this is, Astro in Malaysia is receptive to productions from Singapore and Indonesia but if the Singapore content is info-ed, they are rejected. This is because, info-ed contents are produced in Baku Malay, which somehow is not accepted by Astro. The contents cannot be produced in normal Singapore Malay vernacular because of MDA rulings.

A panel discussion. From left, Alfian Sa’at, SM Zakir, Nadiputra and Mohamed Latiff Bin Mohamed. Similarities & differences between Malay writing in the two countries.

The discussion for this have enlightened me to the challenges faced by Malay writers in Singapore to market their works to a wider audience. There is a mention of a split of opinions between following the government-led efforts or taking their own path. And when some do take their own paths, there have been successes; it is also worth mentioning that ASAS50, a non-government organization of Nusantara writers, have lost its significance or bargaining power.

Meet the Author: Marina Mahathir, Book: Telling it Straight

I have followed Marina’s blog for the longest time and it is so good to finally get to see her in person. She can really deliver without pretense and guile. Inspiring person!

Wrestler Mick Foley doing his book signing. Long queues here! Hmmm brains & beefcake.

Before writing about Singapore Writers Festival, I did not know that Mick Foley writes. It is refreshing to see him use his hands to craft words instead of choking the neck of another wrestler.

Packed hall for Marina Mahathir & Catherine Lim session at Singapore Writers Festival 2012.

Marina Mahathir and Catherine Lim sit together in this unusually packed hall at the National Museum Singapore, hosted by Festival Director, Paul Tan. Paul, while introducing the ladies, preferred to call himself host as there is no way he think that the ladies can be moderated, nor should they.

Hosted by @corrietan. Panelists @Nirrosette @zafaranjum and @cheryltan88

I may have found a new author to follow, and that person is Nirrosette as she is popularly known. I was very surprised to see a young girl in a nice pink scarf walked up to the panelists seating area. The session for this was to highlight the Up and Coming writers. Nirrosette can count on two books under belt with one more coming, a distance relationship being the general topic. As Nirrosette wrote in one of her blog posts;

Yet I don’t want to be known as a nineteen year old novelist who writes sappy love stories and has nothing much to impart.

I don’t write sappy love stories. There’s an element of love, yes. But it doesn’t revolve around just that.

I’m writing for a reason.
I’m writing to engage readers.
I’m writing to evoke emotions.
I’m writing to share my thoughts.
I’m writing to impart knowledge.
And I’m writing to inspire.

I want to reach out to those unwilling to pick up Malay novels and read them. I want to change people’s perception. Malay novels are most definitely NOT crap.

SWF Lecture Series: Michael Cunningham, Hosted by Kenneth Kwok