New May 13 movie courts controversy and distorting the true facts


Tanda Putera, the latest offering from local director Shuhaimi Baba, has received flak over what some say is a skewed re-telling of what happened during the 1969 race riots.

Some accused the RM4.8 million movie of demonising early leftist movements and more hero-worship than tribute to former premier Abdul Razak Hussein, who is Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s father.
    
NONEThe trailer for the movie - fully funded by the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) and the Multimedia Development Corporation (Mdec) - showed scenes of Chinese mobs marching through the streets of Kuala Lumpur after their success in municipal elections.

One group was depicted bearing the Labour Party flag, while that scene and others also showed Chinese Malaysians bearing banners proclaiming anti-Malay slogans.

The banners written in Chinese characters portrayed slogans that translated into ‘Malays go back to the village’, ‘Malays go die’ and ‘Take revenge’.

Garnering more serious brickbats are snippets from the movie’s official Facebook page which detailed scenes apparently slated to be included in the final cut of the movie.

One apparent scene was that of DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang purportedly urinating on a flagpole in front of the then-Selangor menteri besar’s residence.
    
Lim Kit Siang telah kencing di bawah tiang bendera Selangor yang terpacak di rumah menteri besar Selangor ketika itu, Harun Idris, (Lim Kit Sing had urinated at the foot of the flagpole bearing the Selangor flag at the then Selangor MB’s Harun Idris’ house)” read the caption of a photo of the actor portraying Lim being manhandled.

NONEThe photo was posted in the album titled ‘Peristiwa-peristiwa yang dimuatkan di dalam filem ini’ (Events depicted in this movie).

However, the photo and caption has since been removed from the movie’s official page, thoughMalaysiakini had captured a screenshot of the earlier posting.

Those in the industry who have watched the movie in a special preview on Wednesday to focus groups also said that no urinating scene was included in the preview cut.

There was also no mention of the scene in the movie’s script, a copy of which was obtained by Malaysiakini.

Lim Kit Siang had vehemently denied that the DAP was involved in instigating the race riots of 1969, and had said that he was away from KL on May 13 when the initial violence took place.

Director: Better for people to watch it first

When contacted, Tanda Putera’s director refused comment on the matter, arguing that the movie should be screened to the public first before it can be reviewed.

“I am loath to answer that question as people have not watched the film yet. It is better for them to have watched it first. I hope you can watch this movie,” said Shuhaimi.

Scheduled for release two months from now on Sept 13, Finas has however had put off the release of the movie until a later date, yet to be announced.

NONEWhile earlier it was reported that the postponement was because of the impending general election, Finas later clarified  that it was because they wanted to prolong promotional activities.

Some netizens has also attacked the movie’s storyline for apparently being an attempt at brown-nosing to the powers-that-be and a propaganda piece to drum up support for the ruling coalition.

The movie has been screened to focus groups since last week, gaining brickbats from some and praise from others such as Umno-linked blogger Papagomo, who posted a glowing review of the movie after watching it with fellow bloggers.

“We who have watched the movie shed tears several times and truly I feel that the film shall touch the hearts of not only the Malays about May 13, but also all races in Malaysia,” wrote the blogger in a posting.

shuhaimi babaShuhaimi (left) told the media that the movie focused on what she claimed is a special relationship between Razak and his then deputy Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, both aristocrats who sacrificed a lot to work together to save Malaysia from radicals and communists.

Hence this is probably the message behind the title of the movie, Tanda Putera or signs of the greatness of princes or perhaps the legacy of princes. 

Speaking to the media, Shuhaimi has defended her depiction of the scenes as being from the official version of history and from interviews with personalities who were present then.

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