Monday, August 19, 2013

Taib and Rahman: The Ming Court Affair

“You cannot make a bid for power and after you fail say: … ah, we are together… let’s share power. Heads I win, tails you lose” - Taib Mahmud

The line above is not something I made up. They were actually said by Taib Mahmud, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, in 1991 after PBDS, a splinter political party seek to be readmitted to the main coalition that make up the government following an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow him.

The series of events of this period in Sarawak’s history saw the State Legislative Assembly dissolved in March 1987 before the plan to set a motion for vote-of-no-confidence against the Chief Minister led by the majority of the State Legislative members could begin to call for a more democratic process of election.
What was more surprising was the lead conspirator behind this was Taib’s own uncle and mentor, Rahman Yaakub.

With so much intrigue with conspiracies, political alliances and conflicts, I felt that this event in the State’s history has the kind of stuff films are made of - at least the dark, intense and gritty type of film with stadium speeches and behind closed door shouting- similar to the Star Wars saga family feud turning into intergalactic war.

I got the idea to write the story from the time that I spent State Library to work on my assignments for this writing course. At the Special Section of the library, I found two great resources, The Plot That Failed by Yu Loong Ching (1989) and The Political Saga by James Ritchie (1991) that documents this event. These materials are useful resources as they were written close to the time of the events and for large parts are made of compilation of newspaper clippings, election results and party manifestos.

The project’s question is how would I adapt the event into a good screenplay?

Although, this may sound a little adolescent, I will start by giving the film a working title. I find it difficult to write without one single theme that encompasses everything.

As the event happened 20 years ago, the keywords on the event that people would still be familiar today are: Taib, Rahman and Ming Court Affair. With that in mind I shall call the working title, Taib and Rahman: The Ming Court Affair to make it relevant and effective.

The title might have not struck a resonance to the international cinemagoers – like Star Wars – but I think it suits the purpose and audience.

My intention in making the film is not to get awards or break box office records but to combine entertainment and history lessons in a screenplay. The film would suit smaller screening particularly in the remote rural areas of the State and for groups interested in understanding more about politics in this region.

The next step in adapting the event into a screenplay is to arrange and edit them in the framework of the three-act structure that will give it a clear beginning, middle and an end (Green 2010). This is done before I add in the details like sequences, scenes and shots of Taib and Rahman: Ming Court Affair.

Act 1: Set up

The first act functions as a set up and point of entry to the screenplay. This part of the sequence will focus on the main characters of the film, Taib – who will be the point where we see most of the events – and Rahman.

Early in the screenplay, I want to show the relationship that they share as uncle and nephew. In the books that I have cite as resources earlier, little is said about this subject.

There are signs that the two were very close in their younger days. Rahman had affectionately reminisce that he used to babysit and carry Taib – ten years his junior – on his back when was a child. He also note that it was he who advised his nephew to take law instead of medicine as the profession was much more required in the State at the time.

In the first act I will use these information to reconstruct younger versions of the two to give the audience insight on the relationship that they had. This will provide a back-story and sets up the substructure that highlight how far their relationship soured at the peak of the Ming Court conflict.

The first sequences will follow a young Taib with scenes of him getting a scholarship, pursuing his studies as a Law Student in the University of Adelaide, meeting his wife Laila and his return to Sarawak. As the screenplay move forward, I will continue to develop the relationship of Taib and Rahman through their correspondence and the cordial and trusting relationship when they meet. Th first act continues as Rahman becomes the Chief Minister and Taib holds ministerial posts with the federal government.

Having all this in the first 25-30 minutes means that the beginning will be fast paced with short sequences and scenes.

Act 2: Conflicts
The second act is where the story builds.

I have identified that the story between the two builds up when Taib was rushed back to the State to take over from Rahman who stepped down as Chief Minister following a heart surgery in London.

It is here that we first see the conspiracy style of Rahman as he instructed State Legislative member, Sharifah Mordiah to step down from her seat to pave the way for a by-election, signaling Taib’s return to the State’s political scene.

Rahman retreats to taking the ceremonial position as Governor, with his nephew sworn in as the 4th Chief Minister of Sarawak.

This event, sown the seed of conflict between the, as Taib decides to do things his way and choose to ignore Rahman’s ‘advices’. In the screenplay, I will show example of this happening, such when Rahman criticize the Federal government for the delay and scale down of the Bintulu Port in 1983 at its opening ceremony after which Taib staged a walkout.

Soon after Rahman resigned as Governor citing health issue as the reason although it was an open secret that it was because of his diagreement with Taib.

In the second act I will also introduce a new complication: the disharmony in one of the coalition party, SNAP, in Taib’s Barisan Nasional. The conflict begun when SNAP, a predominantly Dayak party appointed a Chinese as its president. Because of this, member of the party, Leo Moggie, Daniel Tajem and James Masing left SNAP and formed a splinter party, PBDS with Leo as its president.

Rahman took this opportunity to create an alliance with Leo and his new party with an end to overthrow a common enemy Taib who is perceived as ignoring the plight of the Dayak for the Chinese. The alliance will be written in the screenplay as they all meet at Ming Court Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

At the scene of the meeting, Rahman is confident. His past as Chief Minister and Governor and his cleverness/ruthlessness in removing his own predecessor Tawi Sli and appointment of Taib made the other conspirators even more trust in him. With PBDS Rahman had the support of popular Dayak leaders.

The plan was set in motion happens when 4 of the State’s cabinet ministers resigns. Taib receives a Telex from 26 out of 48 State Legislative members to resign honorably or face a vote of no confidence.

In the second act, the screenplay, the scenes would move between closed-door conversations, phone calls, press conferences and public speeches. The newspaper statements from both sides will also be prominent.

As the twist and turn develops, I will show Laila, providing essential and much needed counsel and support for his husband. The scene with Taib and his wife will be weaved in subtly with the two listening to P Ramlee – a popular Malaysian singer from the 50s and 60s - together, and sitting for a meal together.

With the person cast for the role, Laila might steal some thunder from all the confusion that his happening around the State’s political scene with her intelligence and demure way together with her habit of driving cars very fast. These lighter scenes are important to give a contrast to the more serious political scenes.

Act 3: Climax and Conclusion

The third act is the climax of the story.

Instead of bowing to the pressure of more than half the State Legislative member pressure to resign, Taib fights back.

In a mood of defiant he appoints new young cabinet ministers whom he knows does not have any link to Rahman. He then called for a fresh election in a month’s time – two months ahead of the next State Legislative seating. In effect the State Legislative Council had to be dissolved.

The sequences that follow will show Taib’s Barisan Nasional, Rahman newly formed party Permas and PBDS on a campaign trail. Rahman is shown calling Taib a weak leader, PBDS members such as Tajem making racial announcement such as “it is time for the Dayak to become generals instead of soldiers” and Taib making the most convincing and clear argument of all that Barisan Nasional stands for “politic of development and not of power”.

The results pour in with scenes of people from all walks of life in the State tuning the radio and ended with the Election Committee General announcing that Barisan Nasional had won the election with 28 seats compared to PBDS and Permas’ 15 and 5 seats.

The scene moves to a long shot showing thousand of his supporters waiting for his house. The Chief Minister arrives in his silver Rolls Royce and soon after we see him being carried on his cabinet minister’s shoulders with a jubilant crowd.

Taib calls for all to accept the results as gentlemen. Rahman retired outside of politics to conduct free religious classes and PBDS continues to be an opposition at State level but align to the government at Federal level for the next few years.

Murshidi: The Imam of Gambier Street

This story is passed down from our father, from their father who got the story passed down from their father. If they had lied, then so will the story.
- Opening lines that usually accompany local oral stories

The year is 1888. It has been 18 years since Charles Brooke had ruled Sarawak after succeeding from his uncle, James Brooke.

A boy, fourteen years of age, was navigating his way through people looking to do their daily shopping at the bazaar of Gambier road. The smell of ground turmeric, garam marsala, chili powder from the shops gives a deceiving sensation of warmth. He rubs his hands together and then kept his arms close to his body. The loose baju melayu that he wore seems to do the least in protecting him from shivering early morning air as he advances past the hand lettered signs of the shop fronts. His footsteps quicken, part because he likes to arrive early and part so that the movement will help in warming himself.

At an opening in between the busy shops he turned left into contrastingly quiet corridor. So narrow was the corridor was that at any given time, it only have space for two adults to walk past it at the same time. Its tall walls and miniature square green and white tiles emphasized further how narrow it corridor was. It is halfway through the path, is to be found Masjid Bandar Kuching or more commonly known to the locals as Masjid Thambie. It was named after the Indian Muslim community that had arrived here even before James Brooke, the Royalist, had berthed on the swampy shores of the Sarawak River.

It was here, at Masjid Thambie, that classes on how to read the Al Quran and speak Arabic language were conducted for children during daytime and at nighttime for adult.

The way that these lessons are carried out, follows a tradition that dates back to the 6th century at the the time of Prophet Muhammad, where he had used his house and later the house of his friend Al-Arqam Ibnu Abu Al-Arqam to set up the first religious school Dar Al-Arqam.

The boy took off his slippers placed it neatly near the wooden fence as not to block the entrance and steps into the outside terrace of the mosque. As he made his way, he can see the bedok, a large drum used to call the faithful to prayers five times a day. He then takes his absolution, washing his hands, face, arm, forehead and foot three times.

The wooden door of the mosque lets a creaking sound letting him into a spacious but dimly lit hall of the mosque.

“Assalamualaikum” he greets.

The man in the mosque turns slowly to look at the recently arrived young guest.

The appearance of his face shows the signs of old age with spots and lines. His grey hair was visible on the side his neatly wrapped turban. The thin moustache above his lips was also grey. He wore an Arab styled white robe, which covers his thin frame.

“Wa’alaikumsalam dear Murshidi,” replied the man, showing the most sanguine of smiles.

The man, Abang Abdul Rahman bin Abang Haji Ibrahim is Murshidi’s teacher.

Thirty years ago he had returned - earlier than he had planned, as he was in the midst of his studies- from Mecca upon hearing that the place where he was born had fallen into the hands of an Orang Putih – a term used to describe Europeans by the locals, which translate into White Man. Abdul Rahman was concerned that from this development, the Orang Putih would pave way for the Christian missionary movement that were already active in the region to make their way into Sarawak.

As soon as he had arrived, Abdul Rahman made arrangements to meet James Brooke. He was aware of how James Brooke had massacred the Dayak that wants him out of their lands with machetes and spears with disproportionate use of canons and rifles justifying it as a war to end piracy.

In the meeting Abdul Rahman tells James Brooke that he does not want to fight with him, he just want assurance that the Christian missionary does not preach to the Malays.

His maneuver works. After the meeting, James Brooke prohibited the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, lead by Rev. Francis McDougall, from bringing Malay Christian convert from neighboring areas to preach to the Malay Muslims in Sarawak. The ban however works both ways as Brooke had also asked the Malay Muslim not to preach to the Dayaks who were largely practicing Animism.

The agreement made with the Malay Muslim was a strategic one for James Brooke. He was aware that the Malays were a lot more organized than the Dayaks and his resources were limited if both groups in his state decides that he was a common enemy. He also knows that the Dayak respected the Malays and the agreement can set precedence that they too might consider a truce.

The diplomatic way that Abdul Rahman begun negotiation demonstrates that working together with the locals might be the best way for him to run his new country.

 He had reinstated the positions and title such as Datuk Imam and Datuk Temenggong that the Malays had previously held under the Brunei Sultanate and reopened the Balai Datus.
Abdul Rahman was offered the highest of the positions carrying the title, Datuk Hakim Keramat that makes him judge of all of Malay cases. At first he had refuse the position but James Brooke insisted that telling him to give it a try first. Otherwise, it leaves him no other option but to banish Abdul Rahman out of Sarawak. He consented.

The other students were beginning to make their way into the hall.

One of them was Anshaari whose deep set of eyes, sharp nose, lightly tanned skin, good posture, as well as his pleasant manners hints that he will soon be a very elegant young man.

He finds his place next to Murshidi.

“How are you today my cousin?”

The class went on without much else fanfare. Their teacher was teaching them tajwid, the right pronunciation in reading the Al Quran. There were plenty of rules to remember like how the 28 Arabic letters or abjads reacts to certain vowel diacritics.

“The difference between mad asli and mad arid lisukkun is that the latter is found only at the end of sentences and instead of two it becomes six harakah

“Wa-lad-daa-aa-aa-aa-aa-aa-liin”, reads Abdul Rahman, hitting the floor simultaneously six times to show how long it should be read before asking his students to repeat after him.

The students enjoyed listening to the unusual pronunciation in the Arabic language and the energetic way that their teacher despite of his age delivers his classes makes the time flies really quick.

As the students were making their way out, Abdul Rahman asked Murshidi and Anshaari to stay.

“There is no need to worry my sons,” says Abdul Rahman calming the boys anxieties at being held back after class.

Abdul Rahman praised the cousins that they had been a good student for the past seven years and that he does not have much left to teach them as his own studies was cut short due to the situation happening in Sarawak at the time. Since then, he was steadfast that his students would continue their studies so that they could learn what he had missed.

“We human beings plans, but He – referring to God – is the greatest of planners”, his eyes suggest that those words was directed to him and not the students he was addressing.

“Alas, I have truly great news and I really could not keep it with me much longer” and suddenly there was a gap in his sentence, “but I am feeling too thirsty to tell you now”,

Anshaari jumps on his feet and ran to to fetch a glass of water from the container that was already prepared by the caretaker of the mosque for Abdul Rahman.

“You are a good student Anshaari”

The teacher then takes a few gulps off the glass.

“Now where was I? Oh, how is your parents Murshidi?”

“Aunty Dayang and Uncle Abang is in good health and so are my parents” it was Anshaari who answered.

“Anshaari, have your forgot that half of faith is patience”.

“I am sorry”

“I know you are and apology accepted”, although strictness is a trait shared by many religious teachers, Abdul Rahman instead felt that curiosity is a virtue.

The suspense did not last much longer after that as Abdul Rahman told Murshidi and Anshaari that he felt that it was high time they take their studies to a level that the Masjid Thambi could not give them. He tells them that he wants to see them continuing their studies in the holy city of Mecca.

In Mecca, he says there was a man that he wants them to send his regards and study with a prodigious student of his. He retold the story of the orphan boy that became a hafiz – a person who had memorized the holy book – when he was only 14. The last time he had visited the holy land, he continues, he could not contain his pride in seeing him teaching at the Grand Mosque. His pride was inflated further when he learned that his student who had penned several religious texts (Omar 2003).

There was no need for Abdul Rahman to say the name of the person he was talking of, Murshidi and Anshaari knew that the man was Sheikh Othman bin Wahab.

Abdul Rahman asks his two students to discuss this with their parents first even though he believes that there would be any reason that they would disapprove of the idea. He advised them not to take too long to decide, only half wittily telling them that he was not getting any younger.

At that, the teacher then bid express his good wishes to indicating the end of their conversation and that his students may leave.

The two cousins made their way calmly out of the mosque. The weather was no longer the cold morning that they had to endure on their way to the mosque in the morning. The sun was well out now above their heads.

They just managed to contain themselves until they reached the end of the corridor. Once they were in the open streets, and far enough that their teacher could not hear or see them, Anshaari pulled his cousin and gave him a hug to the point that it was difficult for him to breathe, planting a kiss on his cheeks.

                   “We are going to Mecca my brother!” exclaimed Anshaari in simple Arabic that he had learned from his teacher.

“Yes, we are!”

How could they not be excited? They had heard so much about the city from stories about the prophet as well as from the stories told by returning pilgrims. For the community that they were living in at that time, it was the ultimate journey.

It seems every year when people return from performing the hajj, there were accounts on miracles that they had witness while they were there. It usually involves a boy whom they say is their son whom they had lost at birth giving them water from the zamzam well, a cat that had reserved a place for them to pray as well as hardship that they had endured because of the sins of their past. Their teacher however told them not to listen too much to this account, as people tend to believe what they want to believe.

The trip to perform Hajj is done by the elderly or the rich who had saved or could afford the month long journey to the city of the prophet.

Ecstatic as both of them were, all the listening and reciting in the hall all morning had made both of them feeling famished.

It was a fine day for them to sit by the bank of the Sarawak River. It has not rained for the entire week, so they soil was not swampy and they are at no risk of getting scolded for getting mud on their clothes. They found a nice shaded spot, on a branch of a mangrove tree. The tide was was falling carrying with it drifting branches as the water flows out into the South China Sea.

Sitting on the branch they could see dozens of small fishing boats and river taxi making its way in and out of the jetty. Two larger steamships of the Borneo Company Ltd were anchored at the wharf; with men carrying disproportionally large sacks in and out of the hull. Across the river they could see the magnificent new Government House, the official home of Charles and his wide Renee Magaret with its tall and thin barks of betel trees sprouting out of its grounds. The relationship between the Rajah with the Dayak had improved since Charles came to power, and the betel trees bears the intoxicating nuts that the natives very fond of. They chew the nuts with lime wrapped around basil leaves.

The cousins were looking forward to sharing the meal that their mothers had prepared and packed for them. When they opened their container, to their surprise, they both had rice with ikan kembong – a local fish. They laugh, thinking, what difference would sharing make, if they had the same thing.

* * * *

That afternoon Murshidi told his parents about the good news. He had hoped that they would show the same joyful excitement as he had experienced earlier with Anshaari. Instead cry of joy, the news was received with tears from his mother and a look of utter solemn resignation from his father. It was only after that did he understand the other side of what his journey to would mean for him and those that he loves.

How could he have known? After all he had not as much as stepped out of the borders of the city. He moved to gently wiping his mother’s tears with a flick of his thumb, pleading to her that she stop crying

His sister walks into the living room, cutting the intensity moment with a tray loaded with tea and crackers made out of sago.

“If you don’t want me to go, I won’t mother”

She lifts her head to look at his son and smiled. She was always impressed at how sensitive his son was.

“It is not that I don’t want you to go Didi” calling him with the affectionate name that he is known in the house.

She continues to tell Murshidi that it was not unusual for parents who loves their children to feel selfish about parting with their child. She tells Murshidi not to despair and to only think of the knowledge he would acquire from studying from scholars like Sheikh Osman Bin Wahab – the only pious scholar in Mecca that she knows. Both his parents shared with him that they knew that this time would come and they had always prayed that he would one day become a pious person. Murhsidi takes his mother in his arms holding her as if it were his last time he could do so.

That night, while lying on the mengkuang mat, Murshidi finds it difficult to fall asleep. His mind was anxiously traveling back and forth between the excitements that the journey promise and melancholic when thinking of what he would be leaving behind.

The croaking sound that the frogs were making, as usual were exact in predicting the rain was imminent. The leak on the roof had let water to dribbling into the container that had been placed on the floor.

* * * *

The specially chartered steamship, SS Hibiscus, with its loud roaring sound thundering out of its coal fired boiler, awaits its passengers to board it, as it gets ready to travel west en route to Mecca in time for the next Hajj season. Hundreds of people were at the wharf today to see their family member board the ship. There were few that were not crying. Most have spent their lifetime working so that they could go on this journey once. The elderly getting on the ship were half expecting that they would die in the holy land.

The weeks between the time that his teacher had told him that he was ready to continue his studies to this day had been agonizing for Murshidi. He was spending a lot of time close with his parents, helping out with chores like cleaning the area the house and tending to the chickens and goats.

The ship had now blown its horn signaling the passengers need to be on board.

Murshidi embraced and kissed the hands of both his parents and asked his younger sister to take care of their parents. His mother hand him a packed lunch, his favorite fish curry and soybeans. Tears fell out of her Didi’s eyes as he thought of how his mother had never failed to cook for him.

“Remember my dearest son, when you hold a burning wood, clutch until it becomes ash”, his father advised.

Anshaari tapped Murshidi, giving a nod that indicates that it was time they say thank you to their teacher Abdul Rahman and board the ship. The Datuk Hakim Keramat was observing from a distance, his students saying goodbye to their family. Both students of the Masjid Thambi kissed their teacher’s hands, thanking him for all that he had taught them and the trip that he had made possible.

They now made their way aboard the ship. There they were, on this Saturday morning, in the year 1888, were standing on the deck of the SS Hibiscus about to begin what will be the journey of their lifetime. The sound of engine had now become louder and the ship was making its way away from the wharf.

Their family waved their hands at them and they return with their own. It didn’t take long before they were gone from their view. There was no looking back now, Murshidi thought. His travel companion was staring at the horizon, enjoying the ocean breeze delicately caressing his face. The city of the prophet, Mecca, awaits them.

* * * *

What have been some of the pressures and pleasures for you of being the family history writer?

The process of writing family history in Sarawak has its pressures especially as not much of it were documented. Most of what were written are on the Brookes, his European officers and a small group of upper-class locals that made up judges, mayors, and religious leaders. For the rest of us, it is oral history told by our grandparents, parents and other relatives.

Abang Yusuf Puteh, author of the Malay Politics and Perabangan on the genealogy of the aristocratic Abangs of Sarawak, noted that where documents do not exist, or are scanty at best, it is difficult to separate myths from history.

On the other hand the benefits more than make up for the frustrations.

For example, the process of writing family history has encouraged me to spend more time and share things with family. My grandparents, were only too eager to go through the family album with me – visual anthropology?

Listening to my father talk about his relationship with his grandfather is also special to me. He had always been a private man and it made me feel a closer to him as he recollect stories like how his grandfather always made him to eat half boiled eggs with soy sauce before going to school.

The hours spent at the Special Section at the State Library was a joy. It may have only two rows shelves on Sarawak history, but for a newbie like myself they are more than enough.

One history that fascinate me was the Ming Court Affair of 1987. It was the incident where an attempt was made to overthrow the Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud by none other than his own uncle, mentor and previous Chief Minister, Abdul Rahman Yakub. Yu Loon Ching had usefully compiled newspaper clippings of the events from March 10 to April 17 April 1987 (Ching 1987). It also made me ask about the role my grandfather played since he was the secretary to Abdul Rahman at the time.

The most significant pleasure for me from writing family history is how it has created this new layer of appreciation for things that are already so close to me. 

Think about and discuss how the need to tell a story has, or might influence, the way you would write your autobiography.

How often it is we surmise, that life is like fiction – if not more exciting? We could see comedy and tragedy is everything as we choose. We read what we see as much as the reader will see what we write. 

We are familiar with Barthes or Foucault’s ideas like the death of the author, and what difference does it make who is the author? When writing one considers what is seen and the words selected to describe it.

An autobiography being a story about my life, can’t escape how I see and understand the world. The sums of my readings, experiences, environment and etcetera will have an influence on my story just as Judith Fishman noted that a story is a selection, interpretation or restructuring of events and evaluation of it, a fundamental means of ordering and understanding (1981).

We reconstruct our known past through the filter of our present insights.

To ask the question of what events would I change for the sake of a good story in my autobiography, is like asking how much would I distort my life story? If it were only elements of my life, that I think is worth a story, would it be better to write a fiction based on my life?

A favorite author of mine during my adolescence period, Nick Hornby had taken this path with his novels Fever Pitch, High Fidelity and About a Boy. In the novel there are autobiographical patterns: the protagonist is a man in his thirties with an encyclopedic knowledge of adolescent things from football and music records. Is a book deal about a fictional know it all, art teacher that is scared to actually become an artist in the pipeline?

In writing my autobiography I would need to balance between the facts of what, where, when, how and at the same time holds the readers with the sort of visual imagery that Van Gogh’s had in his letters and the lyrical way that fictions are written. This is as far as I would go to make a good story, that is by giving it a flowing narrative voice rather than change the events in the story.

I would like to end this week’s discussion by sharing a quote from the 2001 movie A Knight’s Tale loosely based on the Canterbury Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer. In the movie Chaucer played by the brilliant Paul Bettany being accused of lying replied,

                  Yes… Yes… I lied… I am a writer!  I give the truth scope! (2001).

How would you go about verifying events depicted in letters and diaries written by family member

Verifying events depicted in letters and diaries written by a family member is like detective work. Like Sherlock Holmes the writer looks for leads and deduces from information she or he had collected. 

How we come to understand reality is much closer to storytelling than didactic record keeping . Letters and diaries are personal in nature, which means that there are limitations to the accuracy of the contents because of memory, perspective and etcetera.

The events written in letters and diaries can be verified when there is something that it can hold itself against. Having it allows me to suggest, this happened because it says here on the official record, or he was there at the event and here are the photos to prove it.

It requires effort from the writer to walk away from his desk and travel to places, take time to flip pages and may even not yield any results. It is nonetheless necessary to do it in order to avoid lazy mistakes.

Having said that, the story of James Cook with regards to the aborigines shows that history is not always a linear construction. As Healy notes in his article on the subject, history can be culturally peculiar and specific (n.d). Inaccuracies may not be in the letters of diaries but oversight made in record entry, or even how things had been written and accepted all this while.

The pursuit of verifying events is not only to gives more credibility to the story but also how it could lead to discovery of new details.

In my own investigation, I have kept in mind that not everything is directly recorded or have a picture to explain things. Connecting elements of stories also requires use of imagination in recreating events.
For my major assignment, I had written:

The smell of turmeric, garam marsala, chili powder and other spices sharply pierced into young Murshidi’s nose as he navigates his way through the crowded walkway. After a sharp left turn, the atmosphere became suddenly still as his steps echoes along the narrow corridor leading to the Madrasah. His lips continue to move inaudibly, reciting his homework, the sura Al Buruj. He is all too mindful of the Sheikh’s rattan stick.

There is no way for sure that I know that this is how it happened with Murshidi in the 1890s Kuching. Based on information I gathered like how what the Indian Muslim trade at that time, the location of Murshidi’s house being close to the madrasah and my own experience walking around the place, I had used it to fictionally reconstruct the story.

How faithful it is to reality, I can’t say for sure, but I think the reader could acknowledge where I had applied some creative license and which are facts. 

The Pitch

A pitch is about not telling a story but selling a story. The idea is to convince them that the story will make a good investment that will be accepted by the intended audiences. This is important I think as when writing I can be too close to my story that I lose sight of the big picture, with the huge amount of money spent in making a film and the entertainment value for the audience.
So how do you sell an idea?
Start by keeping it simple. The reason for this is not only due to the amount of time that the producer is willing to give the person doing the pitch but ultimately it also serves as a test of how clearly the plot of the story works.
The movie Twins (1988) about twins who are complete opposites in term of physical appearance and character is an excellent example. The situation where you have a contrast between the two characters promises a lot of comic possibilities.
Let the script explore and explain the details. For the pitch, pack a lot of punch and go for the knockout.
Now, I’d like to try to apply the principles we learn this week, for the purpose of pitching for an idea that I have for a romantic comedy.
I thought that a simple love story could be larger than life when put under the microscope slide. This story is about love that is already lost that presents itself with a second chance.
Jack and Jill were falling in love with each other in their final year in college when it all crashed abruptly after he had learned that she was in fact in a relationship with a successful architect. Jill was about to leave the other man but before she could, Jack had learned about this and refused to talk with her and after graduating decide to move to another city and where he worked in advertising.
I will direct the producer’s attention by asking questions to pique their curiosity. These questions could be, how did fate brought them together again? Again the idea here is not to put too much emphasis on the details but rather set the direction for the plot. 
The twist of fate happened when working on a production of an advertisement led him to a fishing village and there she was running a small seafood restaurant. Surprised to have met Jack again, Jill created a lie about being married and having children when all. From then on they keep meeting each other, first by chance then otherwise in this scenic setting with fishing boats by the river and seagulls.
As the story progress, she had to cover up the fact that everything she said was a lie with him discovering inconsistencies of her story.