Kee Thuan Chye


Born: Penang, Malaysia


Kee Thuan Chye (born 25 May 1954; aged 63 years) is a Malaysian actor, dramatist, poet and journalist. Acting in theatre, films, and on television for more than 30 years, he continues to do so. In 1981, Kee co-founded the theatre group, KAMI, in Kuala Lumpur. A noted civil rights activist, he would express in his plays whatever he could not express through the newspapers under Malaysia's repressive Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA). For speaking out without fear or favour, Kee was among the first recipients of The Annexe Heroes Freedom of Expression Awards when it was launched in 2008. In 2010, he was also voted the 34th Most Trusted Malaysian in a poll conducted by Reader's Digest. Although social reengineering under the New Economic Policy had already begun after the 13 May Incident of 1969, it became more pronounced after Mahathir bin Mohamad became Prime Minister in 1981. At the New Straits Times, Kee Thuan Chye received numerous memos from his editor-in-chief for trying to push the parameters and opening up public discourse on what was deemed 'sensitive' issues. Firmly believing that the responsibility of a journalist to the public is to inform them of the truth, he had to battle with his superiors and as a consequence, he was often punished, marginalised, and shut out. In 1988, Kee received his master's degree in drama from the University of Essex, after being awarded a British Council Fellowship for postgraduate studies in England. In 2001, Kee Thuan Chye became the Associate Editor of The Star in Kuala Lumpur, creating and editing the English column, Mind Our English, until retirement in May 2009. His Sunday Star column, Playing The Fool, which he began in April 2001, ran for only two instalments before it was cancelled. In his inaugural article, Kee had written that he would be speaking out frankly on social and political issues, without fear or favour. His second article, hitting out at racial discrimination in Malaysia, was published but when it came to his third article, the editors got jittery and suppressed it. The Star finally decided to terminate the column after Kee submitted his fourth article.

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