Category Archives: left curve


..ment Issue 01: Welfare Statement, O(nline)UT Now!

Friends and collaborators from …ment, new online journal on contemporary art, culture and politics, have released their first issue ‘Welfare Statement’. This first issue explores recent debates on the crisis of the welfare state and related issues. Contributors include Franco Bifo Berardi, Markus Miessen, Margit Mayer, DOXA, Patrick Coyle, The Public School, amongst others. Whilst the journal primarily operates online, a beautiful risograph print limited edition of 150, featuring a contribution fromElmgreen & Dragset, is available from various art bookshops in Berlin and shortly in London.
The London/Berlin based collective also announces a first event at the Chisenhale Gallery, London, on 16th April, co-organised with DOXA and the Amateurist Network. The event AMASS: Towards an Economy of the Commons, consists of an afternoon of round-table discussions and presentations on the notions of the commons. Participants and contributors include Anthony Iles (Mute) and the University for Strategic Optimism. Next issue is expected towards the end of the summer, and an event in Berlin is lined up in collaboration with Archive Books/Kabinett.

Sarawak Sights Rights and Might

Rio Tinto is raising money to buy Alcan (no debt crisis for the fat cats then), and there are rumblings about a plan to build a smelter in Sarawak, in conjunction with the chief minister of that jungle paradise (oops, I meant logging and mineral-extraction opportunity). I quote from the Herald Tribune of 7 August 2007. “Rio Tinto will hold a 60 percent stake in the venture to be known as Sarawak Aluminium Company. The remaining 40 percent will be owned by Cahya Mata, in which the family of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud is a key shareholder”.

OK, then how strange is it that Bakun Dam issues suddenly wash downstream (Bakun electricity will power the smelter). You can read between the lines in this press release that arrived today from Suaram [MYKAD is the curiously named Pass Card/Identity card of cyber-Malaysia – old visions from Mahathir dreams come true]):

Press Statement: 24 August 2007


Dr Kua Kia Soong, a director of SUARAM was denied entry into Sarawak at 9pm, 23 August 2007. Kua, who is also principal of the community-funded New Era College, was on his way to officiate the graduation ceremony of teachers who have attained the New Era College Diploma in Education at Kuching and Sibu.

After screening Kua’s MyKad, the immigration officer at Kuching airport informed him that he had been refused entry into Sarawak because he is on the “blacklist for involvement in anti-logging activities”. From the computer reading of Kua’s MyKad, the officer also knew that Kua is a former member of parliament.

Dr Kua has been an active campaigner against the Bakun Dam project and was a member of the fact finding mission to enquire into the conditions faced by indigenous peoples displaced from the Bakun area to Sungai Asap resettlement camp in 1998.

This action by the Sarawak state government is a gross violation of Malaysians’ right to freedom of movement in their own country. How can we celebrate fifty years of independence when our state governments can arbitrarily decide to deny a Malaysian the sovereign right to move freely in their own country?

More insidious is the way the new Malaysian identity card ‘My Kad’ has become the accessory of a Malaysian police state. This is a most serious abuse of Malaysians’ human right to privacy. It is clear from this incident that the My Kad is now used to store updated information and to be used arbitrarily by the authorities without any explanation being given. The immigration officer had at first refused to divulge the reason for refusing entry to Kua. The reason was only forced out of the officer through persistent demands by Kua.

In recent years, Kua has been going in and out of Sarawak using his old identity card without being refused entry. Clearly, the new “smart” My Kad carries an entire dossier about every Malaysian and has given authorities new resolve to settle old scores!

This incident shows that all information about Malaysians is used interchangeably between federal and state governments. For certain, all government departments have access to MyKad dossier about every Malaysian. Is this dossier also available to banks and credit companies? Who decides? Do we know?

As we reach the 50th anniversary of independence, we grieve the death of our right to privacy and the coming of age of a Malaysian police state. We baulk at the fact that one who cares for the forests, resources and indigenous peoples of Malaysia can be cast out of a Malaysian state while tycoons and politicians who rape an entire forest are feted as “towering Malaysians” and patriots. This brings to mind Samuel Johnson observation that “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel!”

Suaram condemns the Sarawak government for this arbitrary exercise of state power to refuse entry to a Malaysian who has been actively concerned to protect Sarawakian forests, resources and indigenous peoples’ rights.

Suaram calls for an explanation from the federal government regarding the information about Malaysian citizens that have been encoded in the My Kad and the extent of interchangeability of this information with other authorities and bodies.

Suaram calls on the Malaysian people to demand accountability from their government regarding the invasion of their right to privacy and an end to the makings of a police state in Malaysia.

I have more on Bakun (from Left Curve 23 1999 ‘Resettling Bakun: Consultancy, Anthropologists and Development’
and more on Rit Tinto in the categories…

New Left Curve Published.

The new Left Curve is out, with Publicity Section, lots of good stuff, including a piece by Roh Wright.
More details when I am back at my desk.

****** If you live in the Bay Area [USA], please join us for the

New Issue Release Event for Left Curve no. 31:

Wednesday, April 18, 7 p.m.

City Lights Bookstore

461 Columbus Ave., San Francisco

Imogen Bunting 2

Imogen Bunting was a very close friend and her death is an injustice I cannot reconcile (there is no god, no reason, no meaning, nothing fair – etc etc). An astonishing (and yet no surprise) number of people came to the commemoration, and folks from Goldsmiths, from peace boats (Hannah), from the TUC, from the New School spoke eloquently and beautifully. Many many tears were shed.

I am keen to see something of this energy tapped (Duchamp wanted to measure the untapped energy of falling tears – IB would have laughed right here) and I want to see that depth of feeling translated into an ongoing activism that befits the revolutionary politics that Imogen herself espoused. However smilingly she did so, she was totally consistent. I will post soon more of her writing, and I hope there will be further publications from others, but in the meantime you can check a piece that was published in the journal Left Curve a few years ago.

The picture is of the quilt made of Imogen’s garments – I would be embarrassed to call this trinketization, but the way it captures a deeper sentiment and echoes with the book we were doing (that will be done) itself catches me in the throat.

(added later – there will also be a memorial in NYC, see here)

Left Curve

Left Curve is a great journal and useful website, and gets rave reviews from elsewhere…

ie from

Left Curve: “Plainly the biggest and boldest experiment in LEFT CURVE is a lengthy segment called PUBLICity, which includes thirty-five pages of very short prose pieces on a wide variety of themes reflecting ‘aspects of global public life’. As with the lengthier articles, this section includes pieces which are informative and thought-provoking, juxtaposed with those which are self-conscious, dull and poorly written. Dipa Basu’s POLICING THE COLOUR LINE: CONTROL, CRIME, AND CULTURE AND THE HIP-HOP GENERATION is fascinating, while Alexander Bard and Jan Soderquist’s CREATIVITY AND POWER IN THE AGE OF INTERACTIVITY and Kien Nghi Ha’s HYBRIDITY AS CULTURAL COMMODIFICATION AND NATIONAL MODERNISATION are both insightful, challenging pieces. Given that PUBLICity includes contributors from every continent, and that its authors (who courageously publish their own email addresses alongside their work) explore diverse subjects, the results are often stunning. For all its risks and weaknesses, this is an experiment worth repeating. ”