D’state we’re in: 'D'State of D'Nation'

Instant Café Theatre (ICT) turns 2.6 decades old this year, and they are celebrating with a satirical reunion show, ‘D’State of D’Nation’. We check in with Uncle Khoo and Baskaran for the story
D'State of D'Nation

In late 1989, Jo Kukathas, Andrew Leci, Jit Murad and Zahim Albakri started their own theatre company and roped in some friends from all walks of life – actors, musicians, lawyers, insurance agents, the unemployed. Now in their 26th year, ICT, alongside familiar names like Patrick Teoh, Paula Malai Ali, Edwin Sumun, Gavin Yap and more, take us down ‘mudah lupa lane’, where they hantam everybody with their political satire classics, and throw in some fresh skits that reflect the current state of the nation. Yes, it has been 2.6 decades – is the number a coincidence? Uncle Khoo (Patrick Teoh) and Baskaran (Manesh Nesaratnam), two security guards from the show, give us the deets.

How would you describe ‘D’State of D’Nation’?
Baskaran It’s exciting. As each new day passes, oil revenues drop, the ringgit drops, purchasing power drops and our vision is no longer blurry from the laced teh tarik of the last 2.6 decades. We’re finally able to see things and each other as we truly are. D’Nation is knowing itself and becoming slimmer. We’re becoming the Biggest Loser Asia. Awesome, kan?
Uncle Khoo What you mean exciting, Baskaran? Exciting your head lah! I was there at Merdeka you know; independence! Now that was exciting. Now everybody up there thinks they’re all so big shot, play golf lah, go Hawaii lah. Now even vaping they say cannot do. What they want us to do – sit and shake leg all day is it?
B But Uncle – isn’t that what we do? Shake leg inside our guard house?
UK That’s our job lah!

It’s also been a while since the ICT gang has last seen each other...
B I think we miss each other – some more than others. Also, we miss having a good laugh. There hasn’t been an ICT revue for years. The pressure is building up in D’Nation like wind in the stomach after consuming too much sambal belacan. After a while, if there’s no release, it can get cancerous. I think ICT is coming back to avert a national health crisis.
UK I think those flers also got nothing better to do. You think if they are famous Hollywood actor they will come back is it? Okay some of them got role lah in Hollywood film – like that Patrick Teoh and he very good you know – but the rest of them shake leg in KL now.

What’s special about ‘D’State of D’Nation’?
B Actually, special branches of society have always thought of every ICT revue as special. But we’re not that special. Please, ignore us.
UK Hello! They’re asking about the country lah, not this ICT thing. But you’re right – the country also not so special.

We heard that you two are security guards and also loan sharks...
B Due to inaccurate reporting in mainstream media, people think loan sharks are cruel. But everything is relative. Baskaran and Uncle Khoo know they’re Malaysia’s underbelly, but their message to everyone is this: At least we’re not the rectum. They have many redeeming qualities and as they perform one horrific crime after the other, their relative beauty will be unveiled to you.
UK Baskaran – you stupid or what? I told you if people ask, we say we’re security guards! We’re not loan sharks. Only SOMETIMES we lend money. But we’re not loan SHARKS. More like LOAN IKAN BILIS. We’re small fry only. If you want to know the big shark you go ask about this 1EmptyB Company...

Is there anything you'd like to change about the state of the nation?
B I want the price of roti canai to stay low and for Harimau Malaya to be in the World Cup again. Isn’t that what everyone wants?
UK I want the price of cendol to stay low and for Harimau Malaya to be in the World Cup again.

So, what can we expect from your show?
B To attain inner peace, to fall in love with Malaysia again and to be healed. Humour is like rubbing Himalayan rock salt on someone else’s wound. Let the healing begin!
UK Baskaran, who taught you to speak like this? ‘Due to inaccurate reporting in mainstream media’! ‘Premium condo populated by the Malaysian elite’! Your auntie is Auntie English is it?
B No Uncle!
UK Then speak proper English can or not?
B I’m trying Uncle! I’m trying!

Tell us why Malaysians should come see this show.
B It’s not just Malaysians – pendatangs, brain drain deserters, project IC Malaysians (regardless of whether your MyKad has expired) – everyone is welcome. This is your show too.
UK Just make sure you park in the visitors carpark! And Baskaran...
B Yes Uncle Khoo?
UK Don’t talk so much.

Five other ‘D’State of D’Nation’ characters tell us what they’d like to change about our nation...

Ribena Berry
Photo: Instant Cafe Theatre Company

Ribena Berry

Ribena Berry (Jo Kukathas) would like to make ministries more accountable and transparent, rethink GST and collect taxes properly; fix the traffic situation; increase the minimum wage; build underground, not over-ground, mass transit systems so that KL can remain beautiful and retain its few patches of green; end discrimination against LGBTs; get tough on corruption at all levels; help the poor, the homeless, the marginalised; have more women in parliament; go green; protect and help all animals; protect our forests; don’t be a cause of the haze; try not to be openly sexist; love the arts; love our rivers; dress how you like; mind your own business about how others dress; live; and have purple hair at least once in your life.

D'State of D'Nation
Photo: Faizal Mustafa


YBeeee the Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Cutting Ribbons (Jo Kukathas) would like to not change anything. But he wants a road and an airport to be named after him and to have a stadium that doesn’t fall down.

Kuah Jenhan

Mr Leong

Mr Leong (Kuah Jenhan) would like to change d’state of d’currency. It’s becoming incredibly hard to go to d’Australia.

D'State of D'Nation
Photo: Faizal Mustafa

Puan Badariah

Puan Badariah (Jo Kukathas) would like to find the name of the person who gave a sizable donation to her boss in the hopes of clearing her boss’s name. She wouldn’t change a thing about the nation except that she hopes it’ll stop losing so many things.

Rashid Salleh

Jalaluddin Hasbeen

Jalaluddin Hasbeen (Rashid Salleh) would like to change nothing because Jalaluddin doesn’t rock the boat. He is part of the boat. ‘Is that your final answer?’