What Kuah Jenhan Told Us About UPSR, Hello Kitty And A Smash Hit With LCW
Imagine waiting to interview Kuah Jenhan in the noise and bustle of Urbanscapes 2014 and he rocks up on a small horse named Pony Eusoff, looking like the iron fist ruler of a certain Korea (Hint: Not South Korea). After showing us around his fictional town of North Bangsar, Jenhan puts away his persona as Jon Mayor, the ruler of North Bangsar, and wears his almost-serious persona for SAYS' Mei Mei Chu.
Hi Jenhan! Wait should I call you Jenhan or should I call you Jon Mayor? This is a little bit confusing.
Jenhan: Jenhan, yeah, Jenhan is good.
It's been a tough year for Malaysians, we've had plane tragedies, political frustrations, rising cost of living, you name it. But, we want to help pick up the spirits of our dear Malaysians and remind them that it's not too late to have good year.
Jenhan: Sounds good.
We're going to ask you to give your positive spin, or things you've learnt, from some of the biggest incidents that have struck Malaysia this year. Are you game?
Jenhan: Sure! I'll try.
Awesome, here we go. Number one, the double MAS tragedies.
Jenhan: That was, of course, a very sad situation. I remember I was in Singapore when the first plane went missing and I was very worried and concerned. When I came back, everyone was mourning together, people were affected. Throughout the years, a lot of people have become very sensitive especially with race and politics, but when this happened, everybody dropped that. We were all concerned together as a country, as a nation. It reminds us that we are together. That’s something that I find very touching.
Number two, the UPSR leaks.
Jenhan: I think it was very funny. If you have to leak UPSR, in fact, I've put this in the North Bangsar history – “Thinking is illegal, thinking smart is illegal. And intelligence is defined as 'as long as you pass UPSR leaked, or unleaked'”. I think it’s a very funny situation, no one would expect it!
Number three, the petrol price hike, and now fuel subsidies are completely abolished.
Jenhan: Sure it’s frustrating when prices keep going up. I’m not very old, I’ve gone through a few hikes before, and so did a lot of us. We cope, we survive, we always make do, I think that’s the best thing about being a Malaysian, we just learn to survive.
Tell us about Dato' Lee Chong Wei's doping allegations.
Jenhan: Oh wow. I wasn’t really following this, but when I heard people were disappointed and stuff like that, one of the funniest things that came out was he said that he is fixing his teeth so he can be an actor. I don't think if he was serious or not, but if it were a joke I think he’s a really funny guy.
So could Dato' Lee join the stage with you one day?
Jenhan: For sure! I would welcome him with open arms. I think our show would be a smash.
What do you think about the Sedition Act arrests? Especially now that Najib has said the act is here to stay.
Jenhan: Some things I disagree with, but at the end of the day, I still have to have a certain amount of trust for our leaders. I hope that whatever they decide is for the good of the people. And I believe that sometimes, who’s to say if it’s good or bad. We really don’t know la. I myself don't know also. But, I have to believe that it’s for the good of the people la.
What did you learn from the issue of rising extremism in Malaysia? With stories of the I Want To Touch A Dog event, Halloween fatwa, Oktoberfest ban, and even the Hindu deity on water bottles.
Jenhan: I feel that a lot of it stems from fear, and fear comes from not knowing things. I think, with the Internet and stuff, people are learning more things, being exposed to more things. I hope that in time, less and less of these things will happen.
What is your positive outlook on the Uber versus taxi drivers saga?
Jenhan: The positive thing is that people appreciate quality. I think it is good to have healthy competition. I believe that taxi rides are a lot better now that Uber exists, because they have to give a certain quality. When competitor comes in and offer a certain quality, you have to match it or be better. So that’s a good thing, healthy competition.
And last but not least, Hello Kitty is not a cat!
Jenhan: Hello Kitty is a British girl, right? Well, she is a very strange looking British girl. I hope to never ever meet a British girl who looks like that. I would be quite scared.
What are you looking forward to in 2015?
Jenhan: Personally, I am going to be in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I’m not sure if I would be the first Malaysian, but it’s going to be a month-long, it’s a big festival. It is the biggest comedy-specific festival in the world. I hope to do us proud, and if I do us proud, I hope that’s good news for the nation. There will be 500 shows for a whole month, and I will be performing every day for the entire month. There’s where a lot of the comedy people of the world come together.
How tough is the pressure?
Jenhan: It is very tough, because going there and being there for a month is expensive. To have to go up against 500 other shows every single day, that’s a lot of work. So I’m just preparing myself and hoping for the best.
And what are your hopes for Malaysia?
Jenhan: I hope definitely less tragedies, maybe some comedy here and there.
Remember we talked about helping people to end the year with a bang? Tell us 5 things Malaysians can do to make the rest of 2014 a good one.
Jenhan: Erm... Five things ah. Okay, tip number one is: If you got friends outstation, go and drive and visit them now. Because soon, petrol price expensive, so just go and meet your friends. Now you’ve got a good excuse, so that’s one thing you can do.
Tip number two is... Year end is always the time when there are a lot of shows going on. Spend some time to go and watch some shows. It teaches you things.
Tip number three. There’s a mushrooming of a lot of organic and healthy food. Which is very interesting, like juice and stuff like that. Now there are a lot of people who send prepacked lunch. Maybe every day of the week, try a different shop? Eat healthy?
Fourth, learn to have fun, stop worrying so much. I think as Malaysians we worry a lot, just chill out lah.
And tip number five, don’t be behind the computer so often. Go out there and live your life.
We have time for one more question. Any last words for Malaysians?
Jenhan: Don’t take things too seriously. Learn to see different sides of things. Because humour is probably the way forward in terms of understanding. That’s how I understand things.