“I am half Kadazan and half Bajau. I left my hometown of Sandakan (Sabah) two and a half years ago to pursue my degree in Strategic Studies at the National Defence University of Malaysia…”

“I never thought of joining the army when I was a kid, it was my father who actually pushed me.

Also, my grandfather was in the army, he was an army ranger. I’m currently a cadet, although I’m not so sure which army branch I will be joining, but if I get picked to join the ranger, then ranger je lah. 

There was this one time I spent one month in a training camp at Port Dickson, and that was one of the most challenging moments for me. The training camp was in a jungle, we did survival training and military studies. It wasn’t easy and I faced difficulties. At that point of time, I missed my parents and my hometown Sandakan but I just never thought of giving up. 

Even so, after I graduate, I will be serving here in Semenanjung for at least 5-6 years before I have the opportunity to go back to Sabah and to serve there”. 

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Samantha Siow 
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa

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(This post was first published on April 17th 2019)

“I am going to the Ed Sheeran concert tonight!”

“I’m not the biggest fan, but my friends were going and they asked me: ‘Do you want to come along?’. I just said yes of course. And so I bought the ticket for my boyfriend too.

My favourite Ed Sheeran song is Supermarket Flowers. It’s about his mom and it’s very touching. It relates to me personally because me and my mom are very close, but we fight a lot – it’s a whole mother-daughter thing”.

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photstory by Mushamir Mustafa and Christine Cheah

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(This post was first published on April 17th 2019)

“People usually say there are more men working in ‘building conservation’ because it is part of being in the construction line…”

“But as a woman, I have been fine happy with my work – this is my seventh year in this field that is mostly taken up by men. All is okay. I see the opportunities in this field and that’s why I am doing a Masters in Facilities Management.”

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Christine Cheah
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa

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(This post was first published on April 16th 2019)

“I would say that even animals can be better than human beings…”

“In many ways, they are. We can be so terrible, and we have the means to be so, I mean look at this world – animals aren’t destroying it, we are. We are the prime animal that is all about greed and corruption.

Again, we can create so much good but we choose to destroy and choose to consume. And we are all involved in this and we admit that we are consumers and users. 

Sometimes the way we (humans) treat each and look at each other can also be so terrible, but at the same time animals can be so much better than us because of the stuff that we do. 

I am the director of the theatre/play ‘Kandang’ (Cage). It is a Bahasa Malaysia version of George Orwell’s novel ‘Animal Farm’, about a group of farm animals who fight off their human master, and tries to create a place where all animals are equal, free, and happy. 

In the end, however, the animals themselves (the pigs) betray the rest (the horse, the chicken, the sheep, the ox etc) and the farm ends up as bad it was before.

The babi (pigs), let’s use that word. Even pigs are actually not as bad as we are, and how we treat each other. 

In the theatre play, you can see how the pigs play the ‘political game’ – using fear to make people follow and do all sorts of things. 

It’s not just here in Malaysia, but you can look at America too, and what President Trump is doing creating fear in the minds of Americans. 

Kandang/Animal Farm, is not focused on politics or the ideology of a political party, but the leadership in culture – ‘budaya kepimpinan’, a theme my late father really explored. When it comes to leadership in culture, is it about power or responsibility?

It’s really about the conversation on where do we want to go as a nation and what are we going to do. For example, my father would ask a question: ‘It doesn’t matter who’s up there, but once you’re up there, what will you do (to make things better)?’ 

Because sometimes we talk about power, we talk about perks and we talk about position, as opposed to responsibility and trust (amanah). It’s a responsibility to everyone involved. Ultimately, as a whole nation, from the different types of animals, we are all on the same boat – so what are we going to do?

That’s the thing about human beings, we can be so beautiful, we have the potential to be….custodians of this world. We can be the best, but for some reasons, we tend to be the worst”.

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

KANDANG is a Bahasa Malaysia play/theatre (with subtitles) of George Orwell’s novel ‘Animal Farm’, about a group of farm animals who fight off their human master, and tries to create a place where all animals are equal, free, and happy. 

KANDANG is set to open its curtains on 25 April and will end its run on 28 April in klpac’s Pentas. If you want to know more about Kandang and other klpac’s upcoming shows, follow @klpac on facebook and stay-up-to-date. 

Photostory by Mushamir Mustafa and Sue Jiun

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(This post was first published on April 15th 2019)

(In character) “My name is Zabir. It is 1940 and Mak hasn’t left her room. It has been two years since Pak Amir died and I’ve tried my best to assume my new role as ‘man of the house’… but honouring Pak’s legacy is difficult…”

“He was one of the most famous Bugis traders in Singapore and I’m trying my best to fill his shoes. Zubaida, my kakak, is unlike me. She is still with an English soldier in the British army. It is such a betrayal to our culture, to us, to sleep with our very own enemy. She has forgotten her roots and our Bugis ways.

Pak wouldn’t be happy and I feel so sad, and frustrated. To cope with this, I have gone deeper into my beliefs, and I believe that the supernatural powers holds answers to our problems”. 

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Mushamir Mustafa

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HOKL went and interviewed the cast (as their characters) of ‘Malaya Relived: The Fall of Singapore’ theatre/play, which tells the story of Zubaida and Zabir, two siblings of Bugis ancestry living in Singapore under the British empire coping with their father’s mysterious death. Their relationship is conflicted when Zabir blames their father’s death on Zubaida’s courtship with a British soldier, while Zubaida is convinced that there are ‘black magic’ forces at play.

The next play, ‘Malaya Relived: Merdeka’ is playing from 19th – 21st April. For more information please visit http://www.liverandlung.com/malayarelived — with Zickry Trumpeter.

(This post was first published on April 10th 2019)

(In character) “I’m Zubaida Amir, I’m of Bugis descendant and my family and I live in Singapore…”

“I grew up here, my grandpa brought his family here to start a better life. My father, I mean my late father, was a famous tradesmen within the Malay Archipelago.

It got harder when the British opened up the trade but my father still pulled through despite the huge competition.

He passed away about two years back and it’s taken quite a toll on my family. My mother locks herself in her room, she almost never leaves the room ever since then. My brother has learned to cope through other, supernatural way, and its upsetting.

As for me, it was hard at first I think I wasn’t too different from my brother, coping with father’s death through “other ways”, but ever since being married and becoming a mother that has changed me.

My husband is a big impact in my life, he’s a British lieutenant, so his views of the world are different than my people. He has never ignored an opinion of mine, he continues to remind me that my voice matters. That wasn’t something I learn growing up under a Bugis household.

No woman really had a say in anything. In fact, when my father found out about me and Rick, my husband, he banned me from seeing him. I went against that of course, behind my father’s back, then my son came along the day my father died and that’s where my new life truly took off. It’s confusing being a woman with a traditional heritage.

I’m the eldest in my family but my brother is the next in line to lead this family. I have ‘elder sibling’ responsibilities which is generally to lead, yet I am never always the leader, so no matter how I lead, right or wrong it barely matters.

I love my new little family with my husband and son, but it’s hard not to admit that this was my way of coping with my father’s death, allowing myself to be lost in a totally different world and finding myself along the way”.

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Mushamir Mustafa

Do you have a story? Let us know here: https://forms.gle/ht4HsvbxgSgcKS5h8

HOKL went and interviewed the cast (as their characters) of ‘Malaya Relived: The Fall of Singapore’ theatre/play, which tells the story of Zubaida and Zabir, two siblings of Bugis ancestry living in Singapore under the British empire coping with their father’s mysterious death. Their relationship is conflicted when Zabir blames their father’s death on Zubaida’s courtship with a British soldier, while Zubaida is convinced that there are ‘black magic’ forces at play.

The next play, ‘Malaya Relived: Merdeka’ is playing from 19th – 21st April. For more information please visit http://www.liverandlung.com/malayarelived — with Putrina Mohamed Rafie.

(This post was first published on April 10th 2019)

Thank you to The Financial Express (Bangladesh) for writing our latest story that has gone viral!

https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/national/photo-story-of-extraordinary-bangladeshi-worker-in-malaysia-goes-viral-1553941251?fbclid=IwAR2dFJgIDvE-xIRytMtgPGQ8IwaJm8T9X04-xmtuH3L6pNqbN7nAm6Hsz1M

Do you have a story? Let us know here: https://forms.gle/ht4HsvbxgSgcKS5h8

(This post was first published on March 30th 2019)

“I left my homeland Bangladesh 27 years ago when my fifth child was just 6 months old…”

“I haven’t returned since. I miss my family and they miss me too. But this is for them.

All of this is for their future.

I came to Malaysia because I heard there were plenty of jobs here. Even if it is just doing jobs that no one else wants to do, I’ll do it. I’ve been doing it 7 days a week, 365 days a year for the past 27 years. I haven’t once taken a day of sick leave or even an off day. And I’m still going strong, insha’Allah.

My needs here are simple. I send most of my earnings back to my family. I wake up, I bathe, I have my breakfast, I go to work, I come back, I talk to my family back home over the phone, I rest and it’s the same thing the next day, and the day after that. I have made some good friends here, too. 

One of my daughters is now a judge, another is a doctor and my son is an engineer. I’m thankful for what they have achieved.

This December I will be going home for good and finally see my family again. It will be the first time I’ll see my two grandchildren too. 

I can hardly wait.”

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Abu Bakar is a 70-year old cleaner who works at Klang Parade. He is the oldest among his crew. 

Captured at Klang Parade as the crew celebrates their achievement for winning Klang’s Cleanest Public Toilet (Mall) award by Majlis Perbandaran Klang.

Photostory by Ariel Chew
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa

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(This post was first published on March 29th 2019)