From Perak Pirate Kings To Gods
First-time screening in Singapore – two independent movies about Perak’s most infamous pirate legends
Singapore, 8 April 2009 – Focusing on Perak’s illustrious coastal history, The Pirate and the Emperor’s Ship and Ah Kew the Digger will be screening for the first time in Singapore from 1 to 3 May at The Arts House. Presented by Da Huang Pictures in Kuala Lumpur, the two independent movies have captured real life stories of two pirate kings, Tan Lian Lay and Tan Huan Siea who were once the most feared during their times but later became a god or hero in their own ways.
In The Pirate and the Emperor’s Ship, the documentary retraces how pirate king Tan Lian Lay went from being the most powerful gang leader to a hunted man and later a deity. In 1946, Lian Lay fled to Bagan Siapi Api, a predominantly Hokkien Chinese fishing town in Sumatra. After he was gunned down by the authorities during a scuffle, his spirit spoke through a medium. He wanted to repent for his sins and help people by giving out lottery numbers. His predictions were so accurate that a group of people built a “temple” for the spirit. However in all humility, the spirit declined the altar and asked to be seated at the back of the temple where he is still being worshipped as a “General” today.
Similiarly in Ah Kew the Digger, it tells a story about another “sea king”, Tan Huan Siea who ruled Perak from 1959 to 1981 despite being one of Perak’s most wanted criminals. The secret to his survival and popularity amongst the locals was by making regular contributions to temple festivals, always telling the locals to keep the change when he bought things from them and paid his works very well every month. In addition, he was also a peacekeeper between the various clans and secret societies in Perak. His popularity was so strong that he even managed to convince a whole fishing village (suspected of being his base) to relocate when the authorities wanted to capture him. Of course, he was never caught and “disappeared” to some say, Thailand.
Directed by independent filmmaker Khoo Eng Yow, both films follow the efforts of Lee Eng Kew (fondly known as Ah Kew), Taiping’s archaeologist and field historian. A self-taught researcher and historian with no relevant degree or professional training, Eng Kew examines stories of the dead by going to cemeteries and studying the graves specifically in Taiping, Perak. His fieldworks and writings are widely recognised and even commended by academics, editors and researchers. He was commissioned to write a paper on Chinese tombs in Taiping and the founding of Taiping by a Universiti Malaya lecturer, Professor Saw Keng Wah. The son of a petty trader and sixth child of seven children, Eng Kew has always been interested in history and intrigued by the tales of he heard as a child.
Says director Khoo Eng Yow: "Ah Kew is fun to work with. He is humourous and easy going. I have not come across anyone who can get along with village folks as fast as he did! His knowledge on Chinese ritual and culture is outstanding and shooting a documentary with him is like bringing a "ritual-pedia" on the set."
There will also be a Q&A session with director Khoo Eng Yow and researcher Lee Eng Kew after each screening from 1 – 3 May. For more information on the screenings, please visit www.theartshouse.com.sg or contact our Box Office at +65 6332 6919.
The Arts House at the Old Parliament
Occupying the 182-year old building which was the former Parliament House and Singapore’s first Court House, The Arts House was officially opened in March 2004 as the only gazetted government building designated as a multidisciplinary arts centre. The Arts Househas since beenoffering itsvisitors a broad spectrum of activities ranging from contemporary arts & entertainment events to lifestyle options, and at the same time playing an active role in the development of the Singapore arts & creative scene with its strong intent in supporting and promoting Singapore artists and their artworks through its various initiatives and platforms in Singapore as well as internationally. The Arts House is managed by The Old Parliament House Limited, a not-for-profit full-service arts management company limited by guarantee. For further information, please visit www.theartshouse.com.sg
For media queries, please contact:
Executive, Arts & Communications
The Arts House (Managed by The Old Parliament House Limited)
1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429
Tel: +65 6332 6915
Fax: +65 6336 3021