Thursday, August 02, 2012

Tanda Putera: Up to the Censorship Board?

With their PG13 secured on June 7th, will it be allowed release accordingly?

Sources within Ministry of Information, Culture and Multimedia (MICM) revealed that the Tanda Putera film issue was raised in cabinet meeting yesterday.

The decision was to leave it to established procedure and left to the Lembaga Penapisan Filem (LPF) or Film Censorship Board to decide. In other words, just like Namewee can get his film shown, the message was not to interfere

One source told this blogger that the Minister for MICM, Dato Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim had given his words that he will not invoke his power under various act to supercede the decision of cabinet and allow the independent decision of the Censorship Board to take effect.   

LPF is the Government agency empowered to implement the Film Cinematograph Act (1952) and Film Censorship Act 2002. The agency falls under the purview of Ministry of Home Affair. [Read LPF website here.]

For Tanda Putera to be allotted the September 13 showing date, it must have undergone due process and receive the LPF censorshop approval. True enough, they obtained their PG13 assignment on June 7th 2012.

Does this mean the film producer have to reapply to LPF again like some fruits and vegetables have expiry dates?

Will it mean further editing for this film that had cautiously given it's script for prior vetting by Rais's Ministry and agencies related to security and had FINAS's close involvement in the editing process?

In a press conference, the Film Director, Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba was adamant to have the May 13 scenes taken from historical records and the National Operations Report. [See here to download a copy.] 

If so, why should this "Penerbit Filem Malaysia" be unfairly subjected to "double vetting" and occur additional cost, delayed release and face emotional stress from this episode?

Costly delay

Everyone talking and flexing muscle but only the Producer is personally putting money where their mouth is

More so with FINAS, the government agency responsible for developing the local film industry, as financier,  gets a first crack of the first RM1 million of revenue from ticket sales.

Almost in the same manner as bank financing rather than business partnership that come with risk sharing, FINAS gets their money back first before the film producer get to taste the revenue from their investment, hardwork and creativity. The revenue from ticket sales comes after the "no-risk" cinema operator deducted their half from ticket sales.

The comfort to help film producer like Persona Picture is the tax rebate policy that was established during the times of Tun Dr Mahathir. 

Tanda Putera also had the benefit of grant from MDec for use of costly special effects.

However, to meet the September targeted showing date, sources within the industry claimed that Persona Picture had to incur additional cost due to technical problem.

Although one of FINAS role is to provide technical assistance to filmmaker in producing film, be it in making  available latest technologies for filmakers or providing technical expertise such as in engineering, it falls short in keep up with the times and needs.

Much of the money to edit the 70 local films produced annually flows out to Bangkok, where engineers from Technicolor is stationed or traditionally Hong Kong.       

With the producer having their personal rishk capital in the project, it is unfair when some authorities flex their muscle at their whims and fancy.

It is unbecoming for a veteran politician like Rais Yatim to be swayed by the psywar trick of DAP's Komtar cybertroopers did an aggressive campaign on Facebook and You Tube to disLIKE the movie.

Told by many sources, Rais had intervened and instructed FINAS to postphone it's showing to an undetermined date. Sadly it shows poor and clouded judgement on his part.

The September 13 slot allotted for the FINAS-financed film coincide with the prime period of Merdeka month celebration, after Hari Raya and the beginning of school holiday.

Not only do the unclear status of it's release could result in lost opportunity for the film producer, Persona Pictures may lose the wajib-tayang slot to other films on queues, they were left in the lurch as to how to move forward. 

Is there any scene that must be edited? Do FINAS and the Ministry want to disengage their involvement in the film to reduce any possible political fallout? The least would be to remove any logo of the Ministry or any of the agency related to it in the film's credit. Maybe even get someone to buy FINAS out. 

One FINAS source said Rais refused to meet any officials of Persona Picture or film director, Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba. He made up his mind that the film will get released after the general election. DOes he knows the general election date?

And knowing his paranoid behaviour, he probably warned against any attempt to give any private preview to the Prime Minister or his wife.

This is really unfair because it is only Persona Pictures that is putting money where their mouth is.  


Can he  contribute to develop local film industry with a one year contract?

For the FINAS Director General, Mohd Naguib Razak whose one year contract will expire in December this year, he can't afford to put his stand across to the Minister. "Hell hath no fury" than one with a vindictive personality disorder.  

Naguib Razak (no relation to the Prime Minister) has to "play badminton" and be willing to be part of the entourage of high powered Ministry officials to escort and receive him at official functions. Even companies in the industry are instructed to fill the hall and make the presence of your eminence filled with pomp and pageantry.. 

FINAS is due to for a merger with Lembaga Filem Negara next year, thus Naguib's position in the new merged entity is still in a state of limbo that personal honour and principle is the last of priority.
Like the coterie of Directors and Secretaries in the Ministry, Naguib will have to fore-go his role in the day-to-day operations of his organisation. With a one-year term, forget about formulating policies, planning strategies etc. to develop and promote the local film industry.

After all, that is the sole authority of the Minister whose administrative style is equivalent to the central planning and command system of Soviet Russia days.

Control freak

If this is deemed as an exaggeration and a vindictive attempt to paint negatively a Barisan Nasional Minister, a widely known incident that involved the Ministry of Education should highlight further the point.

In one occasion involving the Bahasa Malaysia position in the PPSMI issue, MICM's view was seek after.  Instead of letting the Ministry staff and officers do their job, the former Bahasa Malaysia teacher later turned lawyer insisted upon himself to prepare a paper to be sent to the Ministry of Education.

Subsequently, he instructed his officers to insist the MoE to submit the paper as cabinet paper.

A meeting of officials involving the two Ministries was called and the MoE officials highlighted the flaws with the paper. The officials from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Multimedia kept quiet and just look down, neither acknowledging nor defending "their" paper.

It was later discovered that it was Rais's and his own Minitry's officers were too embarassed to take ownership of it.

Logo that is Government's prerogative and aired but not official slogan?
Another classic case of Rais's control freak nature comes about in the recent debacle over the Merdeka Day slogan and theme song. When opposition raised that the slogan "Janji Ditepati" was inappropriate and partisan, Rais replied arrogantly to say the Merdeka Day slogan is the Government's prerogative.

Lyrics by Rais Yatim?

Eventually it was exposed that he wrote the lyrics to the theme song and naturally the slogan was his, public pressure piled up on him.

Words were the amateurish looking and unprofessional logo was made using photoshop software in his office. He personally gave the concept and supervise it's creation. It wouldn't be a surprise that he himself did it.

On this one, the opposition has a point.

Merdeka Day is a national celebration for the whole country, thus politics has to be put aside. Traditionally, the King, Prime Minister and his Cabinet and Head of Oppositions is on the podium during the Merdeka parade. Let Merdeka Day be a day of unity.

More so near a general election, where every political party is highly sensitised and nuances of partisanship should be avoided. Furthermore, UMNO roadshow also carried the same slogan. 

Rais tried to wiggle his way out by claiming there is no official logo. Who is he kidding when the song and slogan is already on the air in RTM1?

But it still his reelection campaign

Today it is heard that there is a news report of him attempting to spin this time that the slogan is similar to that of Obama's and anyone against it is deemed as anti national. Rais is entitle to his opinion, just like any dogs that had his days are entitle to bark, but it is up to the public to agree or disagree.

It is better for him to lie low and stop embarassing the Prime Minister. .

Similar to the case of Tanda Putera, it was Rais's intervention and control freak nature that interfere in the due process of Government. Ministerial intervention and memandai is one common cause of bureaucratic impediment.


Who will the next canned film director?

The motive for Rais to intervene in Tanda Putera is unknown.

However, Rais is known to be a sensitive and vengeful character. He does not take comments, criticisms and suggestion well. It is often taken as personal to mean that he is incapable and not knowing how to do his job.

For one, he is very sensitive when it comes to any comment on RTM because he has his hand directly in the running of RTM. As a background of the problem in RTM, Gelagat Anwar, a blog known for inside stories wrote here on the internal problems related to Rais and his devious Secretary General.

Reknown film director, Hasham used to publicly raise the issue of RTM's pitching procedure. It seems the established film directors are not allowed to participate in pitching their script. It is meant for the newbies and unestablished ones. [Read here.]

Knowing the Ministry's Secretary General, there could be something devious at work. Rais whose got his hand directly in RTM, maybe slighted.

Could it be he has some ax to grind issue with all reputable and established film directors? If there is, what are the issues troubling him?

For one, Rais had a slug out with the late Yasmin Ahmad who withdraw participation of the film Sepet from one Kuala Lumpur film festival.

Certain quarters claimed "someone" planted Raja Azmi to question Sepet's victory at the 18th Malaysian Film Festival. [Read here.]     

Two years ago, there was uproar over two appointments to the Board of Directors of FINAS by Rais. Both Ahmad Idham and David Teo came from the same company. It was nothing personal but Film Directors felt it was highly improper. Read here.

This is the stuff of legend in the industry. It was told that Rais use to be in a meeting with film directors over an issue. He blew up in the meeting and uttered the words, "You watch out! You watch out!"

The non-renewal of the contract for the former Director General of FINAS has that suspicious touch of Rais. Although no police or MACC report was made, there was a smear campaign within the Ministry to accuse him of cronyism and collusion practises.

Those who know Rais well would describe such vindictive nature as typical of his character. He can lie and go back on his words. [Read the subtle words of his former staff here].

What is lying when Rais is not ashame to display his arrogance.

God knows if there is an intention to reprimand all the established film directors for being vocal and hurting his larger than life ego. 

Emotion aside

Namewee's film released but not Shuhaimi Baba's?
Shuhaimi Baba may escape this attempt to sabotage her because the response to the Tanda Putera preview was phenomenal and she got backing of the media, mainstream and alternative.

The racially motivated DAP cybertrooper attack had no justification.

Like versus Dislike figure on Facebook or You Tube are manipulatable. One well trained Facebook cybertrooper can manage 10 accounts and using several laptop, seamlessly change from one character to another.

While the cybertroopers were acting the bad cop role, there were others playing the good cop like Helen Ang's here and here making cautionary statement and using the overused argument of prevention better than cure.

Whatever emotive response that can arise after coming out from the film, as many young commentators puts it before during the release of Namewee's film and also now, "Let us judge the film ourselves and not some old folks with old school values."

If Namewee can be allowed, Shuhaimi Baba's more professional and creative work should be allowed release.

The problem is that there is too much discussion focused on the May 13 part. Those cybertroopers and also critical comentators including foreign wire have not viewed the film.

Upon viewing it without any prejudice, they will realise that the May 13 bit was basically a dramatic preamble. It is the premise to understand the burden the two leaders had to carry to rebuild the nation.

It is important to enable the youth understand that our country had broken to pieces because of racism and insensitivity before. It is not fear factor politics or old trick propaganda but real clashes and bloodshed had occurred.

Thus it would be highly irresponsible and perposterous to make up stories without fact backing it and accuse anyone would intentionally allow such massive violence and death to let loose for a socio-political agenda.  

The film is about dedication and sacrifice of two leaders in rebuilding a nation from the aftermath of May 13
As a responsible film director, Shuhaimi Baba had done her research and based her work on documented fact.

All the participants in event - UMNO, DAP, Gerakan, Labour party, PAS, MCA, etc - were depicted in accordance with the documents.So does atrocities of the Chinese towards Malay, Malay towards Chinese and Chinese towards Chinese.

There was a scene depicting someone but no names were mentioned to maintain minimal level of sensitivity.

One scene was of someone peeing at the foot of the flagpole in front of the Menteri Besar Selangor house and shouting racial slur. Another was a student demonstration which Tun Dr Ismail suddenly appeared out of the police truck.

Unlike the local political player usual habit to arouse anger and hatred through blame [read an example in Apanama here], the film's May 13 scene did not blame at any political party, or individuals or race, but on subversive elements and instigators.

It is this subversive elements that was depicted in accordance to documents as mostly Chinese communists killing policemen, police officers and rubber tappers of all races. Is the Chinese too sensitive to this historical reality that was potrayed in such realistic manner?

The Chinese that watched and understood the film saw nothing into it. So does the Malay, Indian, young ones and opposition party supporters that saw the film.        

Furthermore, why should the Chinese bother when they hardly watch Malay films?

While Malays do patronise Chinese films, the opposite does not occur. Frankly, Chinese do not patronise Malay films.

If there are political motivation, why the worry then? Chinese votes for DAP is said to be rock solid.

Adults and old school oldtimers from urban areas hardly patronise Malay films too. Why would they worry of that segment of Malay votes destined to vote for DAP will be deviated?

Anyway it is nothing for them to worry because the Malay votes will only be a tussle between UMNO and some for PAS. It is minimal for PKR, including for Anwar in Permatang Pauh. .

This film is also about moving forward
Unless the odd chance of some whacko nincompoops decide to vent their emotion aggressively in public, the likelihood is that the political impact is minimal and no violence will arise. Some may be angered by the scene but it is not likely to result into violence.

It didn't happen with Namewee, and it won't happen for a historical film.

Damn it! Why look too much into it?

There won't be such sophisticated eventuality of life imitating art or art imitating a life. This is just a movie, folks.

* Edited 8:00 AM 3/8/2012


Kamal said...

Now no more censor board la.self sensor.Actually Rais who stop it.Up to him.
Ini cerita Melayu dah takut bayang sendiri.Telok dah jadi Masin.

Anonymous said...

If the comments that I read are true, this is a big shame to those who died. I am from that era, a young boy running for his life in Chow Kit, survived because a kind pak cik hid me in his house. that kind man is no longer with us today but I say to all of you if this this nonsense continues it will create the same atmosphere for the pogrom that happened then!

Anonymous said...

The best movie I have watch before 31 August 2013. Anyway, everyone was patriotic and enjoyed the movie. Funny one part of the movie about coconut water. Secondly, tears cried by the son of the Prime Minister which move many people who empathize with the filem.

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