Creative Writing Programmes
Asas 50 and its youth wing have had a prolific record and success rate in churning out workshops and programmes which are geared towards participation and appreciation of the Malay language and literature. These workshops range from the primary to the pre-university level and are customised to suit the contemporary needs of students and budding literary enthusiasts alike in consolidating their foundation of writing and the oppportunities to have their works published for mass readership at the national and even regional level. Currently, the Asas 50 Youth Wing have even designed a customisable edu-heritage camp/workshop in line with the efforts of the governing bodies towards a more artistically sentient nation base.
The concept of the edu-heritage camp cum workshop which spans 2 (customisable) activity filled days is a maiden attempt initiated by the ASAS '50 Youth Wing within its two-fold approach towards imbibing the traditional pedagogical approach towards literary education and exploration with an infusion of Olympian ideals. The pilot workshop, which was held at Tanjong Katong Primary School on the 17th and 18th of November 2008 seeked to inculcate and precipitate a sustained collective interest in literature, language and culture interspersed with traditional games under an 'Amazing Race' group challenge format.
Participants will also be exposed to a gradual immersion of cultural values which is designed to awaken the desire to enhance their understanding and appreciation of the language and its nuances outside the traditional boundaries of classroom learning and pedagogy. The inclusion of an olympian infused value theme helps to fortify and broaden learning potential besides adding a sporting yet constructively competitive edge for the participants.
ASAS '50 YOUTH WING
The initiative to establish a youth movement in literature was ignited in 2003 which when enacted, sparked a sustained flurry of youth involvement in the literary arts among students, trainee teachers and undergraduates. However, the movement had its beginning in 2002 through its founder and mentor; Mohd Pitchay Gani who was then the second secretary of Angkatan Sasterawan '50 or better known as Asas '50. The youth movement was strongly encouraged and supported by former President of Asas '50, the late laureate Dr Masuri Bin Salikun or better known as Masuri SN.
It was on 13th September 2003, in conjunction with the 12th Regional Writers Conference organized by Asas '50, in Singapore, that the Youth Wing of Asas '50 was formally formed. Since its inception it has continued to inject much vibrance to Asas '50's literary activities in Singapore.
A year later on 9th October 2004, with the support of the Singapore Malay Language Council and National Library Board, a landmark event took place at Geylang East Library. The prime leadership of language and culture societies of universities, junior colleges, polytechnics, madrasahs (Islamic institutions of learning), institute of technical education and mosque youths agreed with Asas '50 to set up a working network in tandem with governmental agencies towards the active cultivation of the literary landscape under the leadership of the head of Asas '50 youth wing, Fariz Husna Sajani.
Today, Asas '50 youth wing has evolved into a dynamic and forward thinking movement responsible for the planning and implementation of many a contemporary initiative, supporting institutions, tackling organizational issues ranging from administration, performance, design and myriad documentations whilst living up to its aim of contributing towards 'literature for humanity'. The new youth leader, Suryadi Bin Mohd Bajuri has taken on the task of engaging youth and cultivating interest in the literary movements under the mentorship of the inaugural head.
Youth Olympic Forum
The youth wing has also been proactive in evolving its approach towards the literary scene with concerted efforts towards a greater national outlook with events such as the Youth Olympic Forum held at Tampines Regional Library in August 2008. The forum was organized with the objective of addressing a multitude of issues ranging from the development of pioneering initiatives and activities to the streamlining of a concerted effort on behalf of literary youth bodies towards a rousing culmination of the world's inaugural sports and cultural festival that is the Youth Olympic Games.
National Literature Seminar
As part of the national literature pedagogy programmes lined up for students and teachers of junior colleges and centralized institutes, the youth wing was invited to grace the event as principal presenters of working papers developed for the subject module. More than 400 students and teachers were present at the Seminar for the Teaching and Learning of Malay Literature at Yishun Junior College alongside distinguished guests from the Ministry of Education.
AKTIVIS Academic Journal
The members of the youth wing have also been instrumental in the formation and establishment of the AKTIVIS academic journal as contributors, editors and publication team members. This journal which is coming towards its ninth year of publication is firmly established amongst the academic scene especially in the realm of Malay studies in the region and has been one of the crucial focal points for researchers and students alike.
ASAS '50 Youth Wing Anniversary
In celebration of its 5th anniversary, the ASAS '50 youth wing showcased an array of performances that highlighted its active and constant promotion of the Malay literary scene. The celebration revolves around the theme, Demi , otherwise known in English as ‘For', which invites viewers to interpret the subject within their own terms or understanding. Dwelling upon the notion of ambiguity, Demi incites ASAS 50's youth activists to creatively tackle the subject through their own genre of literary art forms.
The celebration was graced by Mr Masagos Zulkifli Masagos Mohamad, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Home Affairs. Mr Masagos was impressed with the growth and maturity of ASAS '50 and its youth wing. In his speech, he hopes that the ASAS '50 youth wing can take their development to a new level and seize the many opportunities that may sprout from Singapore's success in hosting the upcoming Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in 2010. With the continuous support of our sponsors, National Arts Council (NAC), Public Utilities Board (PUB) & National Library Board (NLB), Demi was a rousing success.
An important feature of the celebration is the relatively new approach in literature spearheaded by the youth wing known as ‘Graftera.' Graftera invites visual artists to give their takes on the various literary works available whilst adding to the latter an extra dimension to reinstate and reinforce their position as vibrant pieces of art. Through the process of Graftera, the artist assumes the role of a visual literary creator and seeks to rediscover the ‘soul' and essence of poetry. ASAS '50 seeks to create an awareness towards literary art for today's audiences through this contemporary approach.
ASAS '50 youth wing also awarded prizes to winners of an online literary photography competition in which interested participants had submitted their poem entries based on pictorial interpretations of places/things that depicted a local setting. Works of the winners were majestically displayed at the 5th anniversary of the youth wing.
Literary Workshops and Youth Publications
Two books that feature works of youths were also launced, namely Kota Siluman where winning entries from the 2006 edition of the Noktah Putih creative writing competition, which was run by the youth wing, are compiled. Kota Siluman exudes an aura of tranquility and hope, thus becoming the main inspiration for the title of this anthology. It not only reflects the creativity and competency of the writers but also exhibits the acute intellect that they transmit through their creative works.
This is in addition to the Scrinik anthology, a product of a new generation of sci-fi writers within the community whereby readers are made to weigh not only the benefits of science and technology to humanity, but also the inherent repercussions. These sci-fi themed short stories collectively, are a previously unprecedented exploration within the Singapore Malay literary scene. Discourses on man vs machine and science vs religion takes on a new and refreshing light in these stories. This publication graced the front page of the national Malay broadsheet, Berita Minggu.
The focus on the literary scene has also been augmented with the Bibliotherapy programme, a community outreach project funded by Asia Pacific Breweries Inspire Programme. The inaugural programme held over the course of 2008 to reach out to youths at risk through the utilization of literature as a means of personal growth and development will see its crowning through the publication of selected literary works of the participants in February 2009.
The programme was a resounding success and was lauded by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and. Minister -in-charge of Muslim Affairs. As a result, MENDAKI and MCYS have approached ASAS 50 with regards to planning and implementing programmes for youths at primary, secondary and even those out of school.
The youth wing's initial forays into the area of performing arts have also been well received by the public. In December 2007, the staging of late laureate, Masuri SN's work, ‘Matahari Malam' at the Arts House generated the highest audience turnout amongst the activities held there as part of the Singapore Arts Festival. This was followed up by another commendable effort Bisikan Nadim which was staged at the Victoria Theatre in December 2008. The well publicised semi musical portrayed the youth wing's efforts towards the appreciation and exploration of historically based literary works through contemporary readaptations.
Youth Wing Spreads Its Wings
The youth wing has also been playing a crucial role within the national realm and the Asian region. Hoirull Amri Tahiran, an executive member of the youth and main ASAS '50 committee is the incumbent vice president of Asia Youth Forum (AYF), a body ably represented by youth leaders from various tertiary institutions in Asia. He has also represented Singapore is regional events such the Future Leaders of Asia Forum which is an effort to promote leadership and social enterprise amongst the youth of Asia.
Nur Lelah Asfee and Nur Namira Mazlan have both served as and performed admirably as esteemed editors of NIE Voices, a monthly edition of the National Institute of Education, a testament of their highly adaptable abilities.
Muhammad Herwanto Johari, a trainee teacher at NIE was also approached by the Ministry of Education's Curriculum Planning and Development Division in March 2009 to give a talk cum workshop on the planning, execution and evaluation of literary programmes for primary school teachers. Herwanto has also been approached by the National Library Board to run a literary programme at the main branch in conjunction with the Read! Singapore campaign with the PM Mr Lee Hsien Loong as the Guest of Honour, which is scheduled for mid 2009.
In March 2009, Muhammad Herwanto and Noorhaqmal Mohd Noor were invited as studio guests at Mediacorp's radio station WARNA 94.2 FM with AB Shaik for a one hour live programme regarding the Bibliotherapy programme and the launch of the single Srikandi, written by Herwanto and composed by Aqmal.
Writing Workshop at Singapore Chinese Girls’ School
A writing workshop was conducted for students from the Singapore Chinese Girls’ School, on Saturday, 20th February 2010, from 9am to 4pm. It was conducted to impart useful knowledge and skills in writing short Malay stories. The speakers involved were Mr Pitchay Gani, the main organizer for the event, Mr Mohammed Latiff Mohammed, Mr Yazid Hussein and Mdm Norlila Abdul Ghani. A total of 69 participants were selected for this event while the facilitators involved were from the ASAS ‘50 youth wing. Furthermore, this workshop was held in conjunction with the upcoming short Malay story writing competition.
The writing workshop was intended to introduce the process of writing a short Malay story or cerpen to the students. ASAS '50 has been actively spreading Malay literary works and knowledge to the masses especially amongst youth. Apart from programmes such as Heartland Poet and Bibliotherapy, the recent writing workshop in SCGS has allowed the organisation to introduce itself including the writing of short Malay stories to the younger generation.
Having the opportunity to conduct this workshop, ASAS '50 presented to the students on various techniques and approaches in writing a short Malay story or cerpen. Talks conducted by those who were no strangers to the writing world, introduced and gave a deeper meaning to the normal terms used in teaching the skills to write a short story. We believe that having an award-winning writer like Mr Mohammed Latiff Mohammed, to share with the students his vast experience in the local writing scene would make the learning journey a far more enriching and valuable one for them. Apart from that, students were given the opportunity to come up with their own short stories using the techniques that were taught. The practice that they had during the writing workshop would be beneficial in their creative writing in the future. As a whole, the writing workshop was intended to enlighten the students on Malay literary works besides providing them a broader understanding of the technical aspects involved in writing a cerpen.
the Saturday was time well-spent for the students. They were receptive
to the lectures as well as the interactive sessions with the facilitators.
The fun-induced interactive sessions were done to ensure that the students
were able to express themselves creatively. While most of the students
had writing capabilities, it was gratifying to know that there were many
young and aspiring writers in the making, especially in writing short
Malay stories. Thus, the facilitators had an important role of honing
such talents and developing their skills to ensure that these students
continue their dreams of writing and spreading the beauty of Malay Language.
In retrospect, this writing workshop was an insightful experience for
both facilitators and students.
by: Shaheda, Hairani, Siti Noraisha