LoyarBurok was featured in TimeOut Kuala Lumpur’s July 2013 print edition (read the text here). This is a supplemental online feature to the print article. His Supreme Eminenceness Lord Bobo Barnabus tasked LoyarBurokker Marcus van Geyzel to channel the Lord’s answers to Kong Wai Yeng.
You’ve read the interview about the monkey-fronted, socio-political blawg LoyarBurok (no, seriously, it’s a wonder typewriting monkey called Lord Bobo) in our ‘Malaysian Made’ July issue. Here’s more about their views on unity and the passionate chemistry between the Loyarburokkers, as explained by Blawgmeister Minion Marcus van Geyzel.
It must be very tiring to explain that Lord Bobo is real.
His Supreme Eminenceness Lord Bobo Barnabus is real and he exists solely in cyberspace.
But whenever we’re pushed to give a more ‘acceptable’ explanation, we say that we came up with the idea because we wanted to revolutionise freedom of expression, and encourage everyone to move away from the shackles of government-controlled mainstream media.
But the truth is, none of us can take credit for coming up with the idea of LoyarBurok, it’s all from Lord Bobo.
It’s sort of like ‘Life of Pi’: which version you believe reflects your character really. Anyone intelligent would know that Lord Bobo is real.
What keeps you guys motivated?
Although LoyarBurok is a community blawg, there is some work that goes beyond just writing for the blawg. Behind the scenes, the blawg is kept ticking by a handful of Masthead minions, in what is commonly known as an editorial team.
We really don’t need much motivation to maintain the blawg, the satisfaction of receiving article submissions, and seeing new writers finding a space to have their voices heard, keeps us going.
Plus the fact that we occasionally get recognised by cool and hip publications like Time Out KL, obviously.
LoyarBurok is made up of very outspoken and intelligent people. Were there times when the members disagreed with each other?
One thing we always tell new LoyarBurokkers is, prepare for your life to be changed forever. Some people come to LoyarBurok a little nervous, because they think that it’s a bunch of serious human rights lawyers (in fact most of us aren’t even lawyers, let alone human rights lawyers). It is great fun, unbelievable fun.
Being LoyarBurokkers who are free to express ourselves, of course there have been disagreements, but it’s always resolved very quickly.
Something else we say is ‘If it’s no longer fun, stop doing it’. It’s important not to take things too seriously; there’s a lot of tension in Malaysia these days – we think someone should organise a big love party.
Where do you think Malaysia stands in terms of freedom of expression and democracy? How successful has LoyarBurok been as a platform to express public views and encourage debate?
This is a very difficult question to answer briefly! Obviously there have been positive developments over the past five to six years in terms of freedom of expression in Malaysia, as the online space has opened up.
We would like to believe that LoyarBurok has been tremendously successful, and not just because we allow alternative views to be published, but because we allow views from young or unheard-of writers to be published.
We are very proud that many writers who debuted with us have gone on to become paid writers for other platforms, or are now deemed ‘experts’, who are called up by journalists for views on particular matters.
In terms of democracy, Malaysia is still quite immature. Many still think about democracy as being just about elections. But really what is more important is what happens in between elections. We have this flawed belief that we can only exercise our democratic rights every four or five years. Malaysians view politicians as VIPs, when in actual fact they should be serving the rakyat.
We need to learn to keep our leaders accountable. We need to learn how to exercise our rights as citizens. All Malaysians need is to attend UndiMsia! gameshops, really! Or, at the very least, read the blawg.
Will we ever be able to talk about race comfortably?
The answer is obvious. We should all be able to talk about it comfortably, but what’s ‘comfortable’ differs between individuals.
I love sitting on leather sofas, but some find them too hard. Some find bar stools comfortable, but it gives me a back ache. And let’s not even get started on bean bags. So yes, assert your right to comfort!
Do you think Malaysians can see eye-to-eye one day despite our differences?
I think Malaysians already do see eye-to-eye.
Unfortunately, for their own selfish reasons, our politicians want to divide us and make it seem as if we are divided by race and religion.
It was sickening to read many of the mainstream newspapers in the lead-up to the recent elections, stirring up racial issues in a most irresponsible and repulsive manner. We just have to ignore the lies and spin served up by the newspapers, and the fanning of the flames by irresponsible parties.