Controversial ‘Tanda Putera’ film release shelved indefinitely, say sources

By Jahabar Sadiq
The Malaysian Insider
Oct 31, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 ― The public release of the “Tanda Putera” film that deals with the May 13 race riots has been put off indefinitely and now may hit the silver screen after the next general election, say sources.

The Malaysian Insider understands that senior government officials and the Najib administration did not want any distractions and potential flashpoints in the run up to the polls, which is likely to be held in the first quarter of 2013 after the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysian 2.0 (BR1M) is paid out.

The RM4.8 million film, financed with public funds, was first due to be released last September 13 but it was later pushed to November 17.

“There is too much controversy about the film and the authorities have decided on a later release date,” a government source told The Malaysian Insider.

One source added the government had no say in the script although it financed the film that had caused an uproar over the unflattering portrayal of people based on several opposition leaders.

“Putrajaya just wants to head off a potential problem. The people’s feelings are more important than the film production company,” he said.

“Tanda Putera” depicts second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and his deputy, Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, during the post-May 13 period. It was produced by Pesona Pictures Sdn Bhd in collaboration with the National Film Development Corporation (FINAS), which provided the financing together with the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDEC).

Abdul Razak’s eldest son, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is the current prime minister.

The film’s director, Datuk Shuhaimi Baba, confirmed yesterday that the film will not be screened on November 15 as previously planned.

“No screening, because (the) Nov 15 (date) has been cancelled. The new date will be in 2013. There is no more slots for this year,” Shuhaimi told the Malaysiakini news portal in a text message.

But she and producer Aida Fitri Buyong declined to state the reasons for the postponement.

“It is better if this matter is referred to the FINAS director Naguib Razak or (Information, Communications And Culture Ministry) secretary-general Datuk Seri Kamaruddin Siaraf for reasons (for the delay),” Shuhaimi said.

A focus group had previewed the film in July while its online trailer received considerable brickbats over some of the scenes depicting May 13. Shuhaimi had previously denied claims that the release date for the film was linked to the general election.

Last week, Putrajaya had defended its approval of “Tanda Putera”, saying it felt it was necessary to remind Malaysians of the bloody tragedy in 1969.

Deputy Minister Senator Datuk Maglin Dennis D’Cruz told the Dewan Rakyat on October 23 that the government believed that with the level of maturity of today’s youths, such historical events should be depicted in a most “effective and realistic” manner.

“Although it touches on a sensitive racial issue, the May 13 tragedy has become an important incident that Malaysians must take heed of and use as an example of how important racial harmony is to the country,” he said during Question Time.

He also gave his assurance that the government, through FINAS, reserved the right to reject any film production that violates the guidelines of local censors.

Shuhaimi had denied that “Tanda Putera” promoted a pro-Malay agenda or that it featured a character based on DAP lawmaker Lim Kit Siang who was portrayed in a negative light in scenes depicting the May 13, 1969 race riots, as suggested by some Umno blogs to the chagrin of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders.

Earlier this year, an administrator of film-makers Pesona Pictures’ Facebook fan page had posted a photograph of Lim being “manhandled”, with a caption asserting it was taken after the opposition leader allegedly urinated on the flagpole in the then-Selangor mentri besar’s residential compound in Kuala Lumpur before the May 13, 1969 riots.

The picture was removed last month, after personal attacks and threats were allegedly made against the cast and crew of “Tanda Putera”.

  1. #1 by monsterball on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 10:23 am

    Najib boasting Malaysia is best democratic country in the world…has films…many things…many books banned.
    What he wants is…”Trust me. I help you . You help me.”
    That’s is interpretation of best democracy…while he keep planning how to win 13th hooking fishes.. or by crooked means..

  2. #2 by Cinapek on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 12:31 pm

    The BN Govt must be feeling the jitters. What was obviously a film to score points to paint the Pakatan Rakyat ( and especially the DAP) to look bad and win the Malay votes are now being shelved for fear of the backlash. This indicates BN is not even sure if this film will help in winning the Malay votes but would certainly cause the loss of the non Malay votes.

  3. #3 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 12:59 pm

    Shelved? Oooooh. Wat a pity. Screen it. So that we could start our own well research effort to identify the 12 yr old boy who was killed by those umno people outside harun idris hse on the horrible day.

    We need justice for the boy. At the very least we need an open apology by umno to the parents (if still living) or relatives of that boy.

  4. #4 by cseng on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 1:03 pm

    May 13 is the lifeline of Umno and BN. Umno never forget to harp on this, every eves of GE. But this GE, they need to screen May 13.

    BN, especial MCA is embarking on ‘maintaining peace and harmony’ slogan recently, which is meaningless at the moment, why?

  5. #5 by monsterball on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 2:42 pm

    And now…Home Minister Hishammuddin said terrorists are in Malaysia.
    It’s back to same old stories…same old songs…to keep frightening Malaysians.

  6. #6 by monsterball on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 - 3:01 pm

    He said…the Govt knows foreign and local terrorists are using Malaysia as a transit point….sort of not targeting Malaysia anything.
    Dozens of commentators asked why the Govt know and not arrest all and put an end to it.
    It’s saying…they know who few International and local rouges and thieves…and are watching for one false move to arrest them.
    You listen to this idiotic Home Minister…you are an idiot too.
    First ..the PMs no suing others accusing them…totally opposite to the revered Lee Kuan Yew.
    Now…no arresting terrorists.
    If HM wants to watch over their activities…he should keep his mouth shut…and not let the cat out of the bag.
    I say..he is creating fear…telling voters not to change Govt…for continuity of their good work..watching over terrorists.
    Terror has always been created by Umno B..a part of their election strategy.

  7. #7 by good coolie on Sunday, 4 November 2012 - 12:09 am

    If Malaysia is being used as a transit point for terrorists, I hope they will not be allowed to pass through my house on their way to where they are going from when they came from.

You must be logged in to post a comment.