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Yasmin Ahmad wanted to confront prejudice head-on and address the stereotypes in

Malaysia. She does this by having the main characters portrayed by people of
somewhat different cultures, and seemingly incompatible religions and beliefs; and
she ultimately makes the audience realise that stereotypes are judgmental and
absurd. In the first moments of the movie, there is a scene where Orked explains
about the psychological effect of the coloniser on the colonised and how some
races have since been seen as superior. This categorisation on the basis of race is
totally unfair. Each person is different. Its totally wrong to have stereotypes such as
Malays are lazy or Chinese are cheats, and Yasmin addresses these
stereotypes at the start of the movie itself. The British made a smart move when
they segregated the different races during the historical times; divide and rule. The
catastrophic aftermath can be seen till today, hence the reason why Orked argues
passionately about the racist legacy of colonialism, whereby Asian still fall in love
with white people thinking that they are superior, yet she says You like what you
like lah! The underlying lesson when assessing those stereotypes is that no real
development will take place in Malaysia if those stereotypes stay as present as they
The movie goes into great detail and vivid scenes about the different cultures in
Malaysia. In the first scene itself, we are introduced to Jason, hair dyed like a rebel,
who is reading a poem by the poet Rabindranath Tagore to his mother. This
difference of style of hair versus reading a poem is unusual in cinema, as is the fact
it is a scene about a mother and son sharing an intellectual interest. It is also
noteworthy that Jasons mother speaks to him in Malay but he responds to her in
Chinese; this emphasises the Cultural differences and varieties that Yasmin Ahmad
wants to portray in her movie. Another slight unusual thing in the movie is how
Orkeds mum treats her maid Kak Yam, more like a good friend, to the point that the
maid can actually sit with them and watch TV, unlike in Malaysian culture. But the
most striking cultural aspect is Orked to being the typical heroine as is portrayed in
Malay cinema and television. She represents a change to what it means to be a
young Malay woman in a modernised Malaysia, and has to deal with a multi-cultural
society- one which has not fully recovered from the racial riots of 1969.
Yasmin Ahmad also tackles the issue of the education system in Malaysia, in the
scene where Orkeds mother and Kak Yam are discussing the results of Orked and
Jason. They thus bring up an issue that has rarely been spoken in public in this
manner before- the special rights of Malays. The fact that Orked got a scholarship
with 5 As but Jason scores 7 As but fails to get a scholarship and has to work
illegally selling pirated VCDs to support himself. In that way, Yasmin examines the
factors of class and ethnicity in Malaysia.
Lastly, throughout the entire length of the movie, the audience encounters the
stereotypes present in Malaysia. From Jason finding it strange that a Malay would be
interested in watching Chinese videos to Orked challenging her friend who called
Chinese people slit-eyed people by saying Whats wrong with you? Blabbering like
an uneducated fool. This shows that though Orked, Yasmin Ahmad demonstrates
that she herself does not believe in being superior to other races despite being a
Malay herself.