Interview: Huzir Sulaiman of Atomic Jaya

How did the idea for the play come about?
It was inspired by Malaysia’s mega-projects: Petronas Twin Towers, Multimedia Super Corridor, Bakun Dam and bizarre things like the World’s Biggest Ketupat. It was an interesting kind of national hubris that was developing. So I thought to myself, what would be the most mega of national mega-projects? Nuclear weapons, of course!

Do you enjoy taking pot shots at real world issues?
All playwrights work from real life to some extent. My early work dealt quite a bit with society and politics, but my recent work has explored a more interior landscape. Atomic Jaya captures the joyful madcap energy of a certain period of the country and my life.

Are Malaysian authorities OK with the idea?
Absolutely. It was written with a lot of love, and it fundamentally celebrates Malaysian-ness in all its hilarious and crazy forms.

What do you think Singapore would do if Malaysia decided to build the A-bomb?
It’s really not likely to happen, seeing as Malaysia did sign the International Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty more than 40 years ago. But if it did, I’m sure the behind-the-scenes diplomacy would kick into full swing. Again, a series of good meals might sort things out.

How would you describe the differences between a typical Malaysian and a Singaporean?
Singaporeans are a little more punctual, and a little more private. If Singapore was building an atomic bomb, they’d have finished it already, and we wouldn’t know about it.

Do you think the two countries might merge one day?
I don’t think an outright political merger is likely, but greater cooperation and openness would be great. Gastronomically, we would rule the world together.

Atomic Jaya is on Oct 24-Nov 1, 8pm. SOTA Drama Theatre, School of the Arts Singapore, 1 Zubir Said Dr., 6594-8411. $40-$65 from Sistic.