Archive for September 9th, 2013

The best (acting) prime minister

Mariam Mokhtar
Sep 9, 2013

No one will dispute the filial piety and devotion shown by Tawfik, the eldest son of Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, who was once called “The man who saved Malaysia.” Dr Ismail died in office, in his capacity as acting prime minister, effectively the best prime minister we have had.

tun dr ismail abdul rahmanDr Ismail was remembered for his non-ethnic approach to issues and his concern about racial polarisation. He had a strong work ethic, was a strict but fair man who adhered strictly to rules. He despised incompetence and lateness. He was feared and respected. He refused to grant favours even to relatives and close friends. He was highly principled and enjoyed debating.

He avoided conflict of interest and the British High Commissioner said in despatches, “Ismail was a man of formidable reputation for integrity and talent in all communities.”

Tawfik has sullied his father’s memory by aligning himself with the present, undistinguished Umno Baru politicians by suggesting that the controversial film, Tanda Putera be made into a mini-series. Read the rest of this entry »


Is the dissemination of racist lies, poison and incitement, regardless of the harm to Malaysian nation-building, the surest way to high votes and influence in the upcoming UMNO party elections?

There has recently been an unprecedented outpouring of racist lies, poison and incitement in Umno media and social media, whether facebook, twitter or blog, raising the question:

Is the dissemination of racist lines, poison and incitement, regardless of the harm to Malaysian nation-building, the surest way to high votes and influence in the upcoming UMNO party elections?

Two days ago, the UMNO official newspaper, Utusan Malaysia carried a report quoting a former Umno deputy minister, Dr. Mohd Fuad Zarkashi making the accusation that the DAP’s criticism of the film “Tanda Putera” “samata-mata ingin menyembunyi kebiadapan Penasihat DAP, Lim Kit Siang yang bertindak kencing di depan rumah Menteri Besar Selangor ketika peristiwa 13 Mei 1969”. (Utusan Malaysia 7.9.13 p.13)

How can the former Umno deputy minister say, and Utusan Malaysia publish, such dastardly falsehood, when this is a most irresponsible and downright lie?

I was never in Kuala Lumpur at any time during the May 13, 1969 racial riots, and the director of Tanda Putera, Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba had claimed that the fabricated urination incident in her film was her “creative licence” in her fictitious account of the May 13, 1969 racial riots!

This is not an isolated instance, as there had been a recent spate of malicious lies and falsehoods in UMNO media and social media, like the blog post of former Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin last Tuesday (3rd September 2013), accusing me of having “sowed the seeds of death” in causing the May 13, 1969 riots.
Read the rest of this entry »


Tanda Putera, a replacement for Bukit Kepong

— Ravinder Singh
The Malay Mail Online
September 9, 2013

SEPT 9 — “Tanda Putera” was not a natural birth. In contrast, I believe, “Bukit Kepong” was.

“Bukit Kepong” was a film made in 1981 and based on an incident in Bukit Kepong in 1950. It portrayed a historical fact and was not produced with any ulterior motive.

However, certain vested interests saw how it could be put to political use. It became the prime weapon in the election campaigns of the ruling coalition. For the next several elections it became “mandatory” viewing by the electorate starting a few weeks before each election, and almost to the eve of the election.

The TV screening of the film was calculated to “motivate” the voters into supporting the ruling coalition to ensure a “peaceful” future. If not, another Bukit Kepong could happen again.

Impulses reaching the brain through the sense of sight are very powerful. They account for about 80 per cent of all that the mind absorbs. So, screening of the film at the critical hour before the elections was a calculated strategy to condition the minds of the viewers to believe something and react accordingly at the ballot box. It was mind-conditioning.

Having been used for campaigning purposes at a few elections, it had become stale. This is when someone got a brainwave to produce a designer movie to replace Bukit Kepong. This brainwave, I believe, did not originate in Shuhaimi Baba’s mind. It had to be the mind of a master strategist, as far as election campaigning goes, that came up with it. Read the rest of this entry »


In search of lost truth

Aerie Rahman
The Malay Mail Online
September 6, 2013

SEPT 6 — The polemical Tanda Putera was screened a few days ago to mixed reviews. I dislike reading reviews before experiencing the said movie/book/concert myself as it conditions my mind to see things according to the reviewer.

However, since Tanda Putera didn’t make it to any cinemas in London and probably won’t ever, I read and listened to reviews to get a glimpse of all the fuss.

What piques my interest about this film is the brouhaha surrounding it. Some people are angered at the RM4.5 million grant it received. Some are angered at how it masquerades itself as a historical film when some parts are purely fictional. Some are just angry.

At the heart of the controversy there is actually a contest: a contestation of the truth as to what really occurred on that fateful day of May 13, 1969, the contextual considerations that triggered the violence and the subsequent events that unfolded after that day.

Most people are unsure and uncertain about this black spot in our history. Materials on this topic are insufficient.

Since the truth is unclear, people start to formulate their own versions of the truth. I can’t blame them; the truth is after all elusive and relative. The truth is liable to be subjected to various interpretations and manipulations to suit the ears of the hearer and wishes of the maker.

Films such as Tanda Putera are controversial because it is perceived as being intellectually dishonest by telling only one side of the story. The huge subsidy demonstrates the government’s power in the production of a certain historical narrative. Read the rest of this entry »