Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Model Bawean 2011

Some time during first half of 2011, I received an email from Persatuan Bawean Singapura "Singapore Bawean Association" for a little lunch meeting at Hajjah Maimunah restaurant at Joo Chiat Road. I was a little anxious when I was greeted by what seemed like the whole committee from the association! I've not been married yet, but the occasion felt like a Malay pre-nuptial merisik ceremony, haha! There were no less than 8 persons from the committee asking me all sorts of questions - all pertaining to my ethnicity and work. I guess they wanted to have a sneak of how rooted I am as a Singaporean Bawean and curious about my work.

Well to cut the long story short, I think I must have impressed them. Perhaps where I am personally and professionally, checked well into their conditions to something that I never expected in my whole life would qualify into :)

The Bawean Teladan "Model Bawean" award was presented on 11 September 2011.

This prestigious, bi-anual award is handed to Singaporean individuals of the Bawean ethnicity who have excelled in their various fields of work, but most importantly one that puts the ethnic group to the forefront in the national/international professional arena. Previous recipients were the late Hj Ridzuan Dzafir (1999; ex Director-General, Trade Development Board; ex President, Singapore Islamic Council 'MUIS'), Uztaz Hj Embik Ali (religious leader), Hj Ahmad Dawam (Bawean Putera Sepak Takraw Club), Sujimy Mohamad (media entrepreneur) and Hj Suhaimi Salleh (financial entrepreneur). I am recipient number 6.

It was only when the media reported the event on it's front page that I digested the situation. I'm humbled to be placed among the respectable award receipients before me.

It's just, surreal.

I am terribly humbled by the fact that my own community, the Baweans, recognise my work. (The other Malay main ethnic groups in Singapore are the Javanese and Bugis). It's overwhelming to know that people out there connect with what I'm doing professionally.

This award just not about me, it's about the brave elders in my family who uprooted and left their homeland. I dedicate this award to these pioneers without whom, Singapore would be a different place. Truthfully, along with the other accolades in television and still-fledgling film work, I have never envisioned that I would be a Model Bawean (or receive an award of this stature). The responsibility that comes with this award cannot be underestimated.

So, what happens after this? I hope to be consistent, both professionally and personally. This journey is a constant learning experience. And yes, I am still human.

My journey started with the intention to consistently do the best that the circumstances would have allowed. Awards and accolades are truly, bonuses. What's important for me is that my work would make a difference to people's perception of the human condition. I don't set out deliberately to make a change but I need my audience to realise and connect with me that we can make a change, that we can empower ourselves in whatever circumstances we might be in. Perhaps being one of the handful Malay students in my secondary school at Anglo-Chinese School (when there was only one ACS - Barker Road) and subsequently being one of the 2 Malay enlistees (!!) for National Service at the 1st Commando Battalion naturally taught me to stand out among the crowd. Perhaps growing up in working-class Boon Lay estate taught me to rise above that neighbourhood, to break the cycle and be the best.

I have to admit there's still a murmur of discomfort among some local-born Baweans - too embarrassed to own up their roots socially. Perhaps for the reputation that the early Baweans might have brought when they arrived these shores. We are too aware of the lingering, not-too-positive impressions the other ethnic groups might still have on the Baweans.

I only have this to say to these insecure folks - you're your own victim, when you succumb to your own baggage! You are what you perceive other to be. I quote Lady Gaga - "Just put your paws up, 'cause you're born this way baby!".

الحمد لله All praises due to Allah

I have made this short video especially for the event. It was a scramble for ideas. I didn't want a corporate video about ME. I want it to be a tribute to my family that has supported me in this journey. And to celebrate the local Bawean community that has come a long way ever since our forefathers set sail with their little "perahu" (or so I was told by the elders) on the treacherous seas separating Bawean island in Indonesia and Singapore.

I thank my uncle, Hj Ahmad Purut, for kindly obliging to be in this video at such short notice. He speaks Bawean in this video. Also my mother, Hjh Isah, who had no clue then why I would want to make a video of her making the Murtabak/Roti Bawean :P


News of the event travelled fast and a couple of media in Bawean wrote about it too! I'm pleasantly surprised. This is truely special to be acknowledged by the kind folks in Bawean! Thank you so much.

BERITA HARIAN (Page1, 19 Sept 2011, Singapore Press Holdings)


Real said...

Well done - good to see Singapore recognising local talent again!

Sanif Olek said...

Hi, thank you for the kind words.