Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 24. 26th September 1973
It is most regrettable that the Malaysian High Commissioner, Mr Jack De Silva, should make allegations about our 'possible" collusion with the 'foreign power' behind the concert which was staged in the four cities last month, which distorts the theme of the concert.
The Chinese Language Club of the University of Otago, which organised the Eastern Cultural Concert, feels it necessary to clarify De Silva's groundless claims, despite the predicament we expect to find ourselves in.
The total cost of staging the concert, which came to about $3000, was almost covered by revenue from ticket sales of 2000 at $1 each and the subsidy promised by the NZ Students Art Council. Under no circumstances do we need to appeal to a 'foreign power' for financial assistance. The costumes and props were all the efforts of the enthusiastic students who eagerly wished to see the concert turn out to be a success. The two huge paintings which formed the background scheme of two items — 'The Pineapple Harvest Dance' and "When the Sea Roars' — were actually made up of 48 bed sheets contributed and painted by the students themselves. We could have easily dispensed with the need for such time-consuming work, if we had the boss back stage to lean on, not forgetting the 'quota' of the Department of Labour, which has to be satisfied at the end of the year.
We would challenge anyone to step forward with a specific charge and the relevant evidence about the accusation that a 'foreign power' sponsored the concert.
The accusation of 'vicious communist propaganda' is similarly unfounded. As was stated in the concert programme, our main aim in staging the show was to introduce a healthy culture to the students of our motherland and let our NZ friends understand the culture and lives of the people in our country. We believe that culture should be one which reflects the lives of the people, and not that of the feudal minority.
The charge of 'playing on Chinese chauvinism' is an attempt to distort the theme of our con cert. The items of the concert are representative of the way of life of people of the various races in our country.
The Pineapple Harvest Dance' reflects the life of the growers of three races. When the Sea Roars' is an item which depicts the sufferings of the Malay fishermen along the east coast of the Malay Peninusla. The Bamboo Dance' portrays the various padi-planting processes of our Malay brothers. 'Rubber Tree — our Beloved Mother' reflects the sentiments of the poor rubber trappers who constitute the three major races — Malay, Chinese and Indians — in our country. The Malay song 'Bersatu' is another interesting item which Mr De Silva missed. It calls for the people of all races to unite and live together as brothers and sisters. A glance at the list of items in our programme shows that the charge of 'Chinese Chauvinism' is yet another false allegation.
Finally, we wish to add that a concert of this nature is not uncommon in our country. Most of the items in the concert, such as 'The Pine apple Harvest Dance', 'Books, Books, Books', "When the Spring Comes' were staged in various towns in our country by the Malay University students during their tour around the Peninsula early this year. 'When the Sea Roars' was per formed in Singapore by the Southern Arts and Culture Society. The sketch "We Want to Live' was taken word for word from a widely circulated magazine "Varsity Culture" (fourth issue, p. 21—24) published by the Malayan University students.
It never occurred to us that a concert of this type would result in such an unfortunate scene. Neither did we ever expect to be accused of such things as being in league with a 'foreign power', 'attempting to overthrow the Malaysian Constitution' and 'playing on Chinese Chauvinism'.
As mentioned above, the main items of our concert have been publicly staged in our country in recent years and were believed by us to have been approved by our government. We regret very much the magnitude of the dispute generated about our harmless concert.
Up to the present moment, we still do not feel anything was wrong with the concert. Our main objectives in staging the concert have been achieved to a very great extent. Massive applause at the concerts and numerous letters of encouragement from friends all over the country are evidence of support for our concert.
We hope that this statement will clear up all the accusations, and we wish to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to our fellow students and New Zealanders who have shown their deep concern and sympathy towards the position we are in. We are an affiliated club of OUSA and we declare here that no political party was involved in organising this concert.
—Chinese Language Club, Otago University