The New Sang Kancil Tales

Crocodiles sue Sang Kancil for RM 60 million

"We are not stupid," say cross crocs

May 4th, 1999

KUALA LUMPUR, May 4th, 1999 .... Declaring that they are not stupid, crocodiles have sued local satirist Sang Kancil for RM 60 million for libel. Raja Buaya, who filed the suit on behalf of the crocodiles, said that the article ‘Sang Kancil dan Raja Buaya’ portrayed crocodiles as big, stupid, witless animals that could be easily ridiculed and fooled. Raja Buaya is also applying for a court injunction to stop the defendant from further publication of the Sang Kancil fables, the greatest of traditional Malay folk tales and read by millions of children across Malaysia.

In the biting satire portraying the contest of brute strength against cunning wit, Sang Kancil writes about a mousedeer (also named Sang Kancil) who wishes to cross a river to get at some fruit on the other side but dared not swim in it for fear of the crocodiles that infested it. He then challenges the King of the Crocodiles (also named Raja Buaya) to prove there are more crocodiles than mousedeer in the world, and the arrogant King promptly calls up all the crocodiles of the river so the mousedeer may count them.

As tension mounts in the story, all the crocodiles floated to the surface and aligned themselves in a row from one river bank to the other, so the mousedeer could jump on the back of each crocodile to count them. He jumps on each one of them until he safely reaches the other side, after which he turned and jeered at the deluded Raja Buaya in front of all his subjects.

Looking upset, Raja Buaya said that the article was not only insulting to him but also to all crocodiles. He said the article had caused a great deal of hurt, shame and embarrassment to crocodiles and was maliciously intended to tarnish their reputation and credibility. “We are not stupid. I dare challenge Sang Kancil to prove that we are stupid,” said Raja Buaya, shedding large drops of crocodile tears.

He said that crocodiles were already suffering financial losses, claiming that fashion house Lacoste is thinking of abandoning their crocodile logo and replacing it with a gecko. The crocodiles say they may also lose royalty and licensing fees if the producers of a popular brand of underwear drop the name.

In his defence, Sang Kancil declared that ‘Sang Kancil dan Raja Buaya’ is only “a satirical piece of fiction” that should not be taken seriously. “It’s fiction. It’s not real. It’s make-believe. Can’t those reptiles get that through their tiny brains?”

“How can a mousedeer talk to a crocodile, for God’s sake?! They’re just dumb animals!” he declared.

During the ensuing three-year trial, millions of Malaysians across the country collapsed on the floor laughing uncontrollably when they read press reports of how the defence challenged the crocodiles to submit irrefutable evidence that they were not stupid. When the defence wanted to analyse the crocodiles’ genetic structure and demanded they submit to a blood test, the crocodiles raised howls of laughter in the courtroom when they requested a one-week adjournment to study for the test.

"I would like to stress that I am not saying that they are stupid," Sang Kancil said during the trial. "But, heck, they sure look stupid!"

The defence then showed hours of National Geographic documentaries that showed that crocodiles really could not talk and could only make an unintelligible series of growls, grunts and snorts. The evidence also revealed that they were not particularly bright.

Wildlife experts from the International Wildlife Society were also called to the witness stand to testify that there was no scientific evidence to show that crocodiles could vocalise words. “They swim, they wallow, they bite - but no talkie, I’m afraid,” said Dr Alan Doogong, an eminent Australian zoologist. "Scientists are also fairly certain that mousedeer completely lack the gift of speech. I also doubt if they can actually count.”

The prosecution attempted to present as evidence Walt Disney and Looney Tunes cartoon films portraying animals speaking, but the judge ruled it as “not relevant”.

This suit has resulted in a spate of similar multi-million dollar libel suits involving anthropomorphic creatures. The Big Bad Wolf is suing the Brothers Grimm another RM 60 million for their article “Little Red Riding Hood”. Hans Christian Andersen is facing a RM 10 million defamation suit for his article “The Ugly Duckling”. And judgement for the case of “Three Bears versus Goldilocks’ is expected to be delivered next April 1.

When told of the suit brought against Sang Kancil, national laureate Datuk Professor Shahnon Ahmad said “No shit ....”

Asked to comment on the suit in a special CNN interview broadcast worldwide, Sang Kancil said that the crocodiles may have just bitten their own tails. “Where I was previously only read by children, today even adults are reading my tales. Every line of the story was published in the press during the trial. Copies of ‘Sang Kancil dan Raja Buaya’ are being circulated around the Internet by the thousands. The story is even appearing in Reformasi websites.”

He also reminded the crocodiles of the history of Melaka. “That historic empire was founded on the site of where a single mousedeer fought off a pack of the king’s hunting dogs. We may be small - but we fight back, and we fight back hard.”

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