My response to Abang Adik, the movie with rave reviews

I can summarize my response in three words. But before I get into that, I have to say I’d like to hear what law enforcement officers, whether police. Immigration, or local council – and lawmakers – think of the movie.

Now for my three words of response. The words are: sad, angry, and pleased.

First, I’m sad

  • I’m sad that in the midst of our affluent city of Kuala Lumpur, there’s so much hardship, suffering, and exploitation.
  • I’m sad that there are so many who exploit others, and so many who can be so easily exploited.
  • I’m sad that those who are stateless can exercise little to no agency in determining their own future.
  • I’m sad that I didn’t know what’s going on in my own backyard.
  • I’m sad that I hear nothing about such conditions in Sunday sermons or at other regular times in my church.
  • I’m sad that I don’t know of any potential solution to the problem of statelessness.
  • I’m sad that I don’t know of anyone who’s working on a solution.

Second, I’m angry

  • I’m angry that the “good person,” Jia En, who tried to help the stateless, the marginalized, suffered such a sad fate.
  • I’m angry that the writer/director doesn’t show the sorrow of the family and friends of Jia En.
  • I’m angry that there’s just a glance of the church where a service is conducted for Jia En. We’re just shown the outside of the church; not the mourners, not anything said in the service.

Third, I’m pleased

  • I’m pleased that a transgender person is given a positive role.
  • I’m pleased that most of the poor and marginalized are shown to be loving, caring, just, and that they often practice solidarity.
  • I’m pleased that a jailer is depicted positively.

Let me summarize

For me, the most troubling thing about the movie is that it shows just how distant the church is from the realities of Malaysia.

Christians say that the Kingdom of God has come, that Christ is king. What does the king have to say about the stateless?

Christians gather in churches. What representations have churches made to the government about the plight of the stateless? What solutions have churches proposed? What offers have churches made?

The stateless and refugees are made in the image of God. How can churches end the denial of identity, dignity and security to them?

Peace be with you.

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