Festival’s search for meaning of independence

the coolerPETALING JAYA: The fourth iteration of the Cooler Lumpur Festival, held the past weekend at Publika, Solaris Dutamas, featured a stellar line-up of speakers that included former Washington Post reporter John Dinges, Malaysian illustrator and writer Boey Chee Ming and famous Malaysian cartoonist Lat.

Themed “RE: Independence”, this year’s festival was a collaboration between creative media shop PopDigital, British Council Malaysia and BMW Group Malaysia. Its aim was to examine the concept of independence and what it really means for “a person, a people and a nation to be truly independent”.

“This year’s theme is aimed at driving healthy discourse amongst communities, on everything from independence in nation-building, right down to independence in our everyday lives,” festival co-founder and executive director Hardesh Singh told FMT.

“The struggle for independence is a perpetual human pursuit. We want to be free. But are we really?

“We depend on our smartphones… social media… and soon, our cars. So, if we cannot function without technology, does this mean we can never truly be independent?”

Among the line-up of speakers were journalists Sharaad Kuttan and John Dinges, who examined in their talk “Journalism in Service of Democracy” what it takes to make democracy work and the role the press plays in democracy.

Cheryl Tan, Malaysian fiction writer Chuah Guat Eng and British journalist/theatre critic Kate Bassett spoke in “English, Singlish, Manglish”, a forum that examined the unique usage of the English language throughout Malaysia and Singapore, and how its versatility has spawned multiple lingual variants.

Cheryl Tan also collaborated with Malaysian fiction writer Shamini Flint to talk on “Chic Lit. or Why Women Should Rule The World”, a conversation on female writers, how they find their unique literary voices in the male-dominated literary world, and their necessity to the socio-political and literary landscape.

Boey Chee Ming and Singaporean comic artist Evangeline Neo spoke on “The ‘Art’ Of The Biography”, commenting on their storytelling process and what happens in between and behind the lines.

Bassett, Malaysian activist Pang Khee Teik, and cultural anthropologist Leyla Jagiella spoke on “Minds for the Future”, a forum on the necessity of critical discourse and its role in developing independent minds.

Renowned Malaysian cartoonist Mohd Noor Khalid, better known as Lat, also had a talk with columnist and writer Kam Raslan on being Malaysian, and how his famous comics have captured Malaysian culture over the years.

Festival collaborator BMW Group Malaysia also continued their BMW Safety 360 campaign to raise awareness and action for responsible on-the-road and in-car safety technology and practices.

“This time around, we will be partnering with the Association of Registered Childcare Providers Malaysia and San Lorenzo Montessori in Publika,” BMW Group Malaysia head of corporate communications Sashi Ambi said..

The Cooler Lumpur festival ran from 10-11 September at Publika, Solaris Dutamas.