An open letter to Shuhaimi Baba

Sugasini Kandiah
The Malay Mail Online
August 30, 2013

AUG 30 — Dear Ms Shuhaimi Baba,

Last night, I went to watch your movie “Tanda Putera” despite the many calls to boycott it. I went to see the movie because 1) You urged Malaysians to see it before criticising and 2) I had hoped to learn something about the May 13, 1969 riots.

After watching the movie, as per your recommendation, I feel I learnt very little, if not nothing, about the May 13 incident. And I believe this is due to two reasons.

One, the film tackles the incident in a manner so shoddy it downright insults the viewer’s intelligence. Second, the director’s poor ability to translate historical interpretation into production leaves the viewer confused as to whether events in the film are fictional or not.

To be quite honest Ms Shuhaimi, you lost me at the very beginning of your film when you chose to show communists killing an Umno election worker and then showed members of the DAP and Gerakan terrorising Malay neighbourhoods in Kuala Lumpur.

You fail to show how these incidents are related and instead seem to have a jolly good time insinuating that the Chinese were primarily responsible for inciting all forms of violence during the period while the Malays are portrayed as simply trying to defend themselves.

In fact, the scene where former Selangor Mentri Besar Harun Idris gathers his men and urges them to drop their weapons and then faints when his mob runs riot is simply pathetic. The urination scene too was totally unnecessary especially since, by your own accord, it did not even take place.

Indeed, it is irritating that many fictional scenarios of Chinese belligerence were conveniently created to justify actual decisions made by the country’s leaders.

Ms Shuhaimi, you deliberately chose to portray the Chinese as disrespectful and violent knowing you could get away with it. All Umno leaders meanwhile are portrayed as holier than thou.

Your depiction of how Tunku Abdul Rahman “happily resigned” when he had in fact been ousted was also disappointing. Surely as a story-teller, you must realise having one-dimensional characters does your movie no justice whatsoever.

That being said, I must commend your feeble attempt to show how friends of different races stood up for each other during the racial riots. I think, however, there was a lot more you could have done with the subject which would have driven Malaysians to the cinema in droves.

I’m not sure I agree with the Penang government’s directive against screening the film. However, after seeing the film myself, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to watch it.

The last historical drama I watched was “Lincoln” which reflected on Abe Lincoln’s handling of the Civil War and perhaps I unfairly had that as a benchmark when I watched your film.

Still, when I think of how this film was showed in Felda areas prior to the general election, I can see why the story had to be distorted even further than what we usually encounter in our history textbooks.

Ms Shuhaimi, Malaysia is a young country that has a long way to go in terms of generating honest discourse on racial issues. You unfortunately have in no way contributed to that.

  1. #1 by Godfather on Friday, 30 August 2013 - 6:51 pm

    Is it true that a Proton Iswara was somehow teleported back into 1969 ?

    • #2 by Di Shi Jiu on Friday, 30 August 2013 - 8:18 pm


      Aiseh!! What’s wrong with you, man?

      Haven’t you seen the movie, “Back to the Future” ?


  2. #3 by cinaindiamelayubersatu on Friday, 30 August 2013 - 6:52 pm

    Shuhaimi, kalau kamu ada sebarang niat jahat dalam fiksyenmu, jawablah kamu denganNya di akhirat nanti

  3. #4 by Godfather on Friday, 30 August 2013 - 6:56 pm

    We are going to make a movie about Princess Hang Li Po and her Unit Tindakan Khas bodyguards Hang Too Ah, Hang Le Kir, Hang Le Kiu. We will go according to historical records to depict how these UTK folks back then were exponents of Shaolin kungfu. Mind you, there was no C4 then, but a new form of martial arts evolved into what is known today as silat.

  4. #5 by afral abdullah on Friday, 30 August 2013 - 7:17 pm

    Suhaimi Baba may be adequately rewarded whether her film will hit a box-office or not and that could put her in complacency as she may not have the worry of loosing money.
    I had strong feelings that the film will not, I repeat, will not hit box-office as her film contained more fictional than history. People are wise. People can form their own opinion. She must be real naive not to know that she can’t insult people’s intelligence or fully aware but motivated by other factors.Thank you to Sugasini Kandiah for ‘donating’ in ticket fare to Suhaimi. At least, public get a clearer picture of what Tanda Putera is all about.
    To Suhaimi Baba, read my lips (lines) ; I would not want to even 1sen poorer just to watch your film.

  5. #6 by Di Shi Jiu on Friday, 30 August 2013 - 8:31 pm

    Shuhaimi Baba,

    Your disgusting and false portrayal of historical events in Malaysia show you for what you are – a cheap attention-seeking wannabe movie maker.

    To prostitute your creative skills in the service of a corrupt and unjust BN government is an insult to artists everywhere in the world who have always been at the forefront of the fight against evil.

    You have relegated your art form to nothing but propaganda.

  6. #7 by bryanbb on Friday, 30 August 2013 - 9:14 pm

    This multi million Rm movie made seriousness of the subject of supposedly exploring the friendship of 2 malaysian political icons into a silly farcical exercise.
    A multi million budget and the end production has the feel of a very cheap B grade rubbish of a movie they churned out.
    Don’t waste time and money on it. Yawn..!

  7. #8 by tuahpekkong on Friday, 30 August 2013 - 9:18 pm

    This despicable film “Tandas Putera” must have been produced at the instruction of UMNO in order to serve its political agenda. Whether this film is fictional or not doesn’t really matter as long as it serves its intended purpose. No wonder the Chinese voted in droves for the Opposition.

  8. #9 by on cheng on Friday, 30 August 2013 - 10:01 pm

    if gerakan n dap were so naughty, in may 69, how come never prosecute any of their member in court for this may 69 event even after 44 years? what our police n attorney general are doing (or had been doing) all these years???? BIG FAILURE LAH !!
    what this film suppose to teach ?? want make racial polarization even more serious ?? So that WAWASAN 2020 can be achieved ?? BIG PUZZLE !

  9. #10 by undertaker888 on Friday, 30 August 2013 - 11:36 pm

    this sor-hai-me is just interested to wash off mamak’s sin.

  10. #11 by yhsiew on Saturday, 31 August 2013 - 2:33 am

    “Tanda Putera” is Shuhaimi’s movie of fantasy.

  11. #12 by Noble House on Saturday, 31 August 2013 - 4:56 am

    5 million of the taxpayer’s money to showcase UMNO B’s gutter politics to shore up its propaganda machine through the creative work of fiction most likely from the Director’s own excrement.

    What an insult!

  12. #13 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 31 August 2013 - 7:55 am

    You chose the sensational part about Tanda Putera and flip it over and its closer to the truth of what happened..

  13. #14 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 31 August 2013 - 8:02 am

    If Tanda Putera should be screened in public open air, then Chua Soi Lek’s video should also, its less obscene..

  14. #15 by negarawan on Saturday, 31 August 2013 - 10:10 am

    I would recommend reading the memoirs of LKY in which he recounted how the then UMNO secretary-general Jaafar Albar and Razak instigated 1964 racial riots in Singapore and used Utusan Melayu to incite the Malays against the Chinese and to remove LKY from office.

    The British high commission in KL reported:
    “The riots had a political rather than religious origin. Communal tension has been sharpened during the past few months by a propaganda campaign (conducted primarily by the leading Malay newspaper, Utusan Melayu) accusing the PAP government in Singapore of unfair treatment of Malays there. Utusan Melayu often acts as the mouthpiece of UMNO, and in particular of its extremist secretary-general Syed Jaafar Alba. The loss of the Malay seats in the Singapore Legislative Assembly last September to the PAP rankled, and UMNO resentment was increased by the PAP intervention in the Malayan general election in April (unsuccessful though it was), and by the PAP’s continuing efforts to set up a grassroots organisation in all the main Malayan towns.”

    The New Zealand Dept of External Affairs concluded:
    “The fact remains that UMNO (and ultimately UMNO’s leaders) must bear the main burden of responsibility for the recent outbreak by virtue of their recourse to the excitation of Malay racial sentiment. It appears to us that Razak and other UMNO leaders did not act soon enough to curb the excesses of extremists like Jaafar Albar and we were left in even more disturbing doubt by the reaction of the federal government to the riots.”

    In 1966, after the separation, Albar and the Utusan agreed to apologise in court through their lawyers and pay for all costs.

    This lowly-rated film by Shuhaimi Baba is no doubt another propaganda by UMNO to throw bad light on the opposition leaders and the Chinese community, and is just the same old dirty and incendiary tactics used by UMNO since the 60’s. UMNO will not find any respect from all right-thinking Malaysians.

  15. #16 by on cheng on Saturday, 31 August 2013 - 11:35 am

    This film good or not?
    Why not try to market internationally, sell it to cinemas in Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia, UK, Australia, Canada, Philipines, China, Japan, Mongolia, USA, France, Spain, Mexico ,S. Korea, Vietnam, Russia etc, Introduce English, Chinese, Tamil, French, Spanish, Japanese, Thai, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Russian, sub titles etc,
    Then see the response ?

  16. #17 by on cheng on Saturday, 31 August 2013 - 11:39 am

    If after 44 years since then, and the ruling govt (same all along), still cannot make all the races united (trully), then it is a BIG BIG failure for the govt, unity should already be natural if govt had done its works n duty !

  17. #18 by boh-liao on Sunday, 1 September 2013 - 5:39 am

    We must realise dis is d latest UmnoB’s weapon of constant reminder 2 Malays (esp simple rural Malays) dat Chinese r causes of problems in Tanah Melayu
    UmnoB, rogue film directors,etc r elements of d AXIS of EVIL – 2 hang on 2 power based on racial ketuanan n hatred

    Dis film is a big COUP 2 UmnoB
    Dis film has proven 2 UmnoB dat they can LEGALLY use totally cooked-up fr thin air ideas (n market them as facts) 2 incriminate selected individuals or grps of individuals n 2 brainwash people 2 believe in them
    They hv now d LEGAL instrument 2 [email protected] LIES 2 rakyat, even 2 create mistrust, hatred, n amok, riot
    A VERY dangerous privilege indeed

    Wonder if a director produces a FICTION movie showing a top ranking minister of a country n his evil fat wife ordering a lovely foreign lady 2 b C4 2 pieces, OK or not aaah

  18. #19 by Danniel on Sunday, 1 September 2013 - 7:28 am

    Dear stupid Shuhaimi, I think Chua Soi Lek's sex video is much much better than your stupid Tanda Putera movie.At least Chua Soi Lek sex video is an honest video which doesn't twist and alter historical facts like what you do in your stupid Tanda Putera movie. You are not fit to be a movie director, you are only suitable to play the role of that stupid whore in Chua Soi Lek's sex video.

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