May 13 film: Dishonest or Truthful Reconstruction?
The Tanda Putera filmmakers are marketing their movie as an educational product on the claim that the events they have depicted are based on established truth.
“My team and I did a lot of research, such as studying documented materials and photographs, to make sure the scenes were backed by historical facts,” its producer-director Shuhaimi Baba told the NST on Aug 4.
One scene in Tanda Putera is reportedly of Lim Kit Siang urinating at the flagpole (in the compound of) the Selangor Menteri Besar’s residence while at the same time shouting a racial slur.
[See Lim Kit Siang’s Aug 4 statement – ‘Tanda Putera’s “urination” episode – downright lie and dangerous falsehood’]
Lim has questioned whether there is an ulterior motive to incite mob anger against him. Is the canard one that is only recently invented to purpose fit Tanda Putera, and if so to what end? If indeed Lim did commit the act, “why had no one ever seen, mentioned or heard about it during the intervening 46 years until now?” asks one Netizen.
Logic dictates that if the powers-that-be had any concrete evidence of any such episode involving the then DAP organizing secretary, this damning detail would never have escaped being made public.
So much for Shuhaimi Baba’s careful “research” or is it that amoral pursuit of socio-economic and political gain is reaching new heights with new recruits?
In fact, the photograph of Lim being manhandled by the authorities – featured in the Tanda Putera official Facebook as one of the May 13, 1969 photographs of real-life events – can in reality be dated to a 1984 incident in Kota Kinabalu.
Lim’s press statement (refer below) clarifies the occasion of the photograph.
Najib administration behind the propaganda?
That Tanda Putera – a movie financed by Finas (Perbadanan Kemajuan Filem Nasional Malaysia) and Multimedia Development Corporation – chose to include such an inflammatory and defamatory scene casts serious doubts on the whole government (read: Umno)-backed enterprise.
It is a dangerous enterprise entering into the realm of celluloid demagogy.
It invites suspicion that Tanda Putera is just one step short of a propaganda exercise to subtly cast the opposition stalwart as a hateful, anti-Malay figure.
Against this backdrop of political distrust, it is only to be expected that pro-opposition supporters would see what they regard as “the May 13 film” to be part of a pre-election smear campaign against the DAP. Or in the words of an online news portal subscriber – “The campaign has now recruited the likes of filmmaker Shuhaimi Baba with her blatant lies on celluloid to demonise DAP.”
Lim has been advised by concerned members of the public to sue the filmmaker for her dangerous distortion or to obtain a court injunction should the scene remain intact during the movie’s general release, rumoured to be given the green light by November.
There have also been calls for the public to boycott Tanda Putera for its one-sided portrayal of the Chinese as the villains of the piece as well as over the bad faith inherent in the inaccuracy – which smells quite deliberate – of placing Lim Kit Siang at the epicentre of the riot outbreak in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur.
Even before the controversial movie makes its public debut, it is already wracked by widespread and confrontational polemics. The Tanda Putera trailer uploaded to YouTube has registered 4,379 ‘dislikes’ by viewers as opposed to a mere 472 ‘likes’ among those who had watched it. Roughly, nine out of 10 who voted have given it a thumbs-down.
Thus far, the pre-publicity buzz has indicated that the movie is an all-Malay affair –most certainly the main cast is all Malay and if not with a predominantly Malay research and production crew – projecting a staunchly pro-establishment slant.
The ‘timely’ creation of this movie sends the message that the Umno incumbency will not hesitate to conscript the various government agencies that it has at its disposal to maximize whatever psychological advantages the party can attain through entrenching a state-sanctioned national narrative.
Some quarters have already dubbed this Tun Abdul Razak Hussein biopic as a brown-nosing hagiography in light of the man’s eldest son possessing a current standing as the country’s prime minister.
The effects of this movie on our racially charged and ethnically divided society are all too easy to anticipate. Tanda Putera will split Malaysians cleanly down the middle along the pronounced race cleavage.
Although the CPI supports freedom of the arts and expression, it is of the opinion that this film is the type of polarizing propaganda aimed at inciting members of an ingroup to hate and scapegoat some outgroups.
Rather than educating the public and enhancing the quality of public debate and analysis on an important watershed in the country’s history, it will only have the opposite effect.
Although banning the film or obstructing its dissemination is not the correct response to it, it is incumbent on all Malaysians of peace and conscience – including the Prime Minister and other leading members of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition – to set the record straight.
The powers-that-be must articulate their response to the film’s depiction of what happened and who were responsible for the tragic day of May 13 and the aftermath. This response needs to be ventilated and disseminated widely to serve as an antidote to the hateful and dishonest messages contained in the film.
– Center for Policy Initiatives
Lim Kit Siang’s Aug 5 statement:
Yesterday, I categorically denied the preposterous claim which had appeared previously on the official Facebook page of the May 13 movie, Tanda Putera, that I had urinated on the flagpole in front of the then Selangor Menteri Besar’s residence during the May 13 riots in 1969.
The Facebook had carried a photo portraying me being manhandled, with the caption:
“Lim Kit Siang telah kencing di bawah tiang bendera Selangor yang terpacak di rumah menteri besar Selangor ketika itu, Harun Idris. (Lim Kit Siang had urinated at the foot of the flagpole bearing the Selangor flag at the then Selangor MB’s Harun Idris’ house)”
The photo was posted in the album in the Facebook titled ‘Peristiwa-peristiwa yang dimuatkan di dalam filem ini’ (Events depicted in this movie).
Although the photo and caption have since been removed from the movie’s official page, Malaysiakini had captured a screenshot of the earlier posting.
I noted two very pertinent postings from the 69 comments since Malaysiakini [see ‘Kit Siang denies urinating on flagpole outside MB’s house’, Aug 4] reported my denial, viz:
RealSoldier witness513 its simply absurd to accuse LKS performing such despicable act because the flagpole is not freely accessable to the public as it is located within the compound of the MB’s house which is fenced and manned by a jaga. By accident I was at the MB’s on that fateful day from 3.00am to 5.30am on 514 following rescue operations by the security forces.
FREE The picture of LKS being grabbed and manhandled by officers was taken at the Kota Kinabalu old airport terminal. Those officers in white-shirt uniforms were immigration officers when Harris Salleh ordered the deportation of LKS from Sabah. This writer was inside a plane and saw from the window LKS being put in a wheelchair and wheeled to the plane for deportation back to KL.
What RealSoldier posted made eminent sense, as in 1969 I never knew where the official residence of the Selangor Menteri Besar was, let alone that it has a flagpole “located within the compound of the MB’s house which is fenced and manned by a jaga”.
This posting exposes the downright lie and dangerous falsehood that I or anyone could have urinated at the foot of the flagpole at the then Selangor Menteri Besar’s house – when it was within a confined and guarded compound.
The second posting is an eyewitness account of the origin of the photograph shown on the Tanda Putera official facebook.
The photograph was not taken in 1969 but 15 years later at the Kota Kinabalu Airport old terminal on August 26, 1984.
I had flown into Kota Kinabalu that morning en route to Sandakan in response to a challenge by the then Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Harris Salleh to repeat my speech in Parliament on July 23, 1984 outside Parliament without the benefit of parliamentary privilege on Harris’ abuses of powers as Sabah Chief Minister in particular with regard to Labuan being carved out of Sabah and made a Federal Territory.
I had challenged Harris to name the place and date for me to repeat my parliamentary speech, and when Harris named the Dewan Masyarakat Sandakan on August 26 at 10am, I immediately accepted and flew into Kota Kinabalu with the then DAP deputy national chairman and MP for Jelutong Karpal Singh enroute to Sandakan for the occasion.
But at the Kota Kinabalu Airport, I was denied entry on the directive of the Sabah Chief Minister who had challenged me to repeat my parliamentary speech against him in Sandakan later the same morning!
I was told to take the same flight out to return to Kuala Lumpur. In the 2-and-1/2 hour standoff with the immigration authorities, I made it very clear that denying me entry into Sabah was a gross abuse of Sabah immigration autonomy powers and I was not prepared to leave my own country on my own free. I told them that they will have to bodily carry me up the plane. Finally, they put me in a wheelchair and bodily carried me up the flight steps to the waiting plane.
That was the 1984 Kota Kinabalu photograph which Tanda Putera official facebook had used as one of the May 13, 1969 photographs!
The two Malaysiakini reader comments cited above are the real stuff of people’s history, unalloyed and unadulterated by lies and falsehoods.
Let us have more real people’s history on what actually happened.
‘RealSolder’ has debunked not only the lie that I had urinated at the flagpole of the Selangor Menteri Besar’s house, but that anyone else could have done it as the flagpole is within the confined and guarded compound of the Menteri Besar’s house.
But how did the canard of the “urination” at the Selangor Menteri Besar’s house, provoking the May 13 riots, originate?
Since the Tanda Putera official Facebook entry, I had asked around whether anyone had ever heard of any “urination” incident at the flagpole of the Selangor Menteri Besar’s house provoking May 13 riots, and nobody has ever heard of it before.
Neither the White Paper issued by the National Operations Council on 9th October 1969 entitled “The May 13 Tragedy” nor Tunku Abdul Rahman’s book May 13 – Before & After made any reference to any such urination incident at the Selangor Menteri Besar’s residence.
This has become the Urine-Gate or Pee-Gate of Malaysia.
Malaysians should do a Sherlock Holmes to find out the “who, when and what” about the origin the canard of “urination” at the flagpole of the Selangor Menteri Besar’s house provoking May 13 riots in 1969 – for if there is no truth whatsoever, it should put to rest once and for all.
When did anyone first heard of such a canard? Or is it a very recent vintage – just for Tanda Putera?
It is indeed sad and tragic when all efforts should be made on the occasion of the approaching 55th Merdeka Day/49th Malaysia Day to emphasise the unity in diversity of the Malaysian nation, there seems to be anti-national elements out to create racial distrust and dissension and undermine national harmony by spreading the most vicious lies and falsehoods about the history of the nation.
If the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia slogan and policy is to have any meaning at all, I call on all Malaysians to prove that they are Malaysians in heart and soul on the occasion of the 55th Merdeka Day/49th Malaysia Day!
EVIL INCARNATE: Umno-BN’s blockbuster movie May 13, 1969
Written by Iskandar Dzulkarnain, Stan Lee, Malaysia Chronicle
The most saddening event in Malaysia’s politics today is the screening of the new May 13 movie – Tanda Putera. What is the country coming to?
Barisan Nasional, which calls itself as a caring government and the ‘only alternative’ in this country refuses to lift a finger to stop this madness! But it’s time Malaysians told them – stop it!
For God’s sake, stop damaging racial relations in this country any further. If Malaysians don’t want you at the 13th general election, please accept defeat graciously and leave. You can always come back in 5 years time but Malaysians cannot afford another 5 years of such evil scheming aimed to destroy the fabric of our own society just so that the BN can stay in power.
It is really sickening to see a faltering government conjuring controversy after controversy to try and justify its right to rule, only to be caught in the act time after time for false representation. You can kid the Rakyat once or twice, maybe three times but you can’t kid them all of the time. Malaysians are not that dumb.
Too late for BN to garner a mandate?
The GE-13 should have been held a year ago. BN would have had a fighting chance to garner a solid mandate. Instead, greed to regain a two-thirds majority got the better of them and today, they are in real danger of losing their simple majority to rule.
No right thinking Malaysian would allow BN to have a two thirds majority. BN should be contented with either a two-party system or get ready to warm up the Opposition bench.
The polls delay has caused so many unpleasant incidents to emerge that many Malaysians already view the Federal Government as nothing more than a bunch of power-brokers struggling desperately to stay in power at any cost. That’s how dim the scenario looks today!
Screening such a controversial movie is simply the last straw for most Malaysians. The May13 incident is a ‘dark horror episode’ that should remain buried in the past.
Digging it up to remind Malaysians of the cruelty, madness, evil deeds and murderous intents of masses running ‘amok’ in the streets chopping everyone up in a blood bath is a perverse condition of unstable rulers who should belong in a mental institution, not governing our nation.
Screening it and reminding Malaysians of these horrors, may activate unstable ‘copy-cats’ serial murderers baying for blood. It may cause them to lose control and copy the demented actions of the Umno Youth which instigated the tragedy.
It also reminds us of the mass shooting during the premiere screening of ‘the Dark Knight’ when an unstable American tried to copy ‘the Joker’ and gunned down 12 people in cold blood, injuring scores of other victims.
What does the government hope to gain from screening such a film as Tanda Putera? With its depiction of hideous atrocities and racial slurs, is the May 13 movie expected to remind the audience of our illustrious history or to be taught a ‘new’ history where Umno’s role is washed clean and it is all Lim Kit Siang’s fault. Yet the DAP adviser was not even in Kuala Lumpur but in East Malaysia when the May 13 incident broke out in 1969.
The REAL HORROR of May 13
The racial riots on that fateful day led to a ‘national emergency’ or Darurat. Officially, 196 people were killed between May 13 and July 31, 1969, due to the machete attacks and other violent acts. Journalists and other observers have stated many times, this number is intentionally under-counted and the real tally much higher.
Other reports at the time suggest that over 2,000 were killed by rioters stirred up by Umno Youth and mainly in Kuala Lumpur. Many of the dead were quickly buried in unmarked graves in the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital grounds.
Thousands were injured and maimed for life. It was almost a full-scale war. Even the death toll from all the ‘Rambo’ movies combined hardly touched 200 casualties. And now the BN government, for its own motives, thinks that it is good idea for Malaysians to be reminded about its sordid past.
Although, many Malaysians know the real truth leading up to these events, the BN government has no qualms as to distorting the accuracy of the events depicted in the movie.
May 13 movie to make the Malays hate the Chinese: Chong Wei to appease the Chinese
Now, on its final leg leading up to the GE-13, the BN government is desperate to grasp at something that can sway the people – in this case, the Malays – against the Chinese.
All the talk about 1Malaysia sounds so hollow when the authorities have no wish to enforce or embrace the concept. Even making a national her o of badminton star Lee Chong Wei won’t help because the people know Prime Minister Najib Razak is playing a devious game.
He is using May 13 to get the Malays to hate the Chinese and using Chong Wei to appease the Chinese that this is ‘not so bad’ after all.
Somehow, with such fictitious sincerity, unity may indeed be a lost cause unless there is a regime change. For as long as the BN remains in power, it will see racial unity and integration as a direct threat to its hold over the country.
First Anwar, now gunning after Kit Siang
Implying that the DAP and a living, breathing leader to be the cause of the May 13 riots is not only character-assassination and gutter politicking, it is downright Evil.
Ban the movie immediately for the distorted historical events and inaccuracies for these are dangerous and can be perpetuated as being the truth when it is anything but truthful.
Those who were born after May 13 and are gullible enough to believe Umno-BN would be telling their children and grandchildren 50 years from now that it was Kit Siang who started the racial riots.
But the fact remains, Kit Siang was not even in Kuala Lumpur. How could he have urinated on a flag pole bearing the Selangor flag at the residence of the then Mentri Besar Harun Idris?
After failing to convict Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, despite Sodomy I, Sodomy II and the awful Datuk T sex tap, are the Umno-BN now turning their attention to the DAP and Lim Kit Siang?
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