THE BN’S SWANSONG: May 13 film ‘Tanda Putera’ is Umno’s worst propaganda
Well, Shuhaimi Baba you cried, raved and ranted that you were an independent film maker with your own views. You said “Tanda Putera” is not a political film to support any party.
I say, Bull Shit! It was supposed to be released in November last year but because Najib could not make up his mind on the election date, the film was postponed till he made up his mind. Looks like the 13th General Election is just weeks away now because the boss himself has released it to be premiered at the Felda gathering, where about 3,000 thousand got to watch it first.
Why was a local film premiered at an event not related to the film industry? Always there will be a fanfare for the premiere of any local film with personalities from the industry invited and it is always at a local cinema or a viewing hall.
But for “Tanda Putera”, it is done at an event for Felda settlers. Doesn’t this stink of government propaganda?
Without integrity, an artist is NOTHING
And you, Shuhaimi Baba, you said you were not biased. I’ve not seen the film but I suspect your hands were tied and you were dictated to on how to direct the movie, or else why this suspense?
But no matter what the pressure, you should have stood firm. Shame on you! You belong to the Arts and you must have the integrity and sense of doing justice to your profession and to society. If it is a propaganda film, then it should be made by a young aspiring film-maker who needs money – not you, an award-winning director.
And to Najib, if you thought that by showing this movie to the Felda Settlers, you will win over the Malays to vote for BN, then my friend, your 1Malaysia is a SHAM!
Here you are dividing and ruling the people, but you charade as if you want everyone to be united under your 1Malaysia umbrella. Do you dare show this film to an equal audience of Malays, Chinese, and Indians and then see whether your slogan is 1 Malaysia or 1 Malay-saja.
How sad for Malaysia when the Prime Minister of the country has to choose sides, and to win votes he has to make a movie on a subject of that Black Day when thousands of Chinese lives were lost and his own party disgraced itself by instigating the killings.
By right this movie should be banned if touches on sentiments of fellow Malaysians, but here it is funded by the Malaysian Government no less – all for the purpose of propagating votes.
Back to you Shuhaimi Baba, I hope this film will be your swansong. I am sure you will be paid handsomely because after this film you may lose all credibility as an artist to your fellow comrades as well as the general public.
Most probably politics will beckon soon. If BN wins, you can have the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism as a gift (don’t worry you won’t need votes for it, they will make you a Senator first and then offer you the post).
Of course, if the opposite happens and you cannot make a living out of film-making , you will have to find an alternative job. Such is life. And remember Shuhaimi, what goes around comes around. So don’t be too happy and gloat when you should be thorough ashamed of yourself!
FILM REVIEW Despite the cabinet deciding against airing the controversial Tanda Putera film until after the next general election, the leader of the same cabinet, Najib Abdul Razak, appeared keen on showing it to only selected segments of the Malaysian populace.
The reason is likely that the film is a double-edged sword, serving as an effective propaganda tool but which may well offend other communities.
While both the Malays and Chinese were depicted as turning on each other during the May 13 riots in the film, the latter were often characterised as the aggressor.
The show opens with a group of Chinese who appeared to be Communist sympathisers attacking a party worker, urging that the 1969 general election be boycotted.
The victim was later revealed to be an Umno member as a news flashed with the headline: ‘Umno party worker killed’.
A voice then narrates that victory marchers had chanted “Melayu balik kampung” (Malays should go back to their villages), hurting the feelings of Malays and thus triggering the May 13 race riots.
In the build-up to the tension, it showed a group of Chinese youth vandalising campaign materials and who were later shot by police when fleeing, causing anger among the Chinese community.
Later, an angry crowd of Chinese protesters assembled and their leader said don’t give reasons for the police to arrest them as they could take “revenge” during the general election, six days later.
After the general election, it showed several scenes, presumably opposition supporters of Chinese descent, laying claim to to Selangor after the incumbent Alliance (present day BN) failed to obtain a majority to form the state government.
A scene showed a group of Chinese on a lorry entering a Malay kampung, declaring that the area now belonged to them, causing tension as police attempted to prevent a clash.
Another scene showed a group of Chinese youth urinating on a flag pole bearing the Selangor flag outside the residence of then-state menteri besar Harun Idris.
They declared that Kuala Lumpur – then still part of Selangor – as belonging to them and the menteri besar should get out.
At a protest, the crowd chanted Chinese slogans. A Malay police officer there later shifted uncomfortably when he was told that they were chanting “Malays go die”.
In yet another scene in Setapak, a group of Chinese refused to allow two Malay youths on a motorcycle to pass, claiming that the area now belonged to them, and subsequent beating up the duo when they persisted, until police intervened.
The duo, beaten bloody, subsequently made it to Kampung Baru where a rally led by then-menteri besar Harun of Umno was ongoing.
Enraged by this, the Malay crowd took it out on a passing vehicle whose driver was Chinese and he was killed. Later, a similar Chinese crowd also went about hunting for Malays.
In another scene at a cinema, the screen suddenly blacks out, replaced with Mandarin words which asked Chinese to leave the venue, which they do.
A man then shouted in Malay why there was Chinese words on the screen and demanded for the show to be put back on. Then suddenly, the remaining audience in the cinema was massacred.
Throughout the build up of tension and race riots, there was a mysterious Chinese man who observed the happenings, and he was later revealed to be a Communist leader – indicating that they may have had a hand in orchestrating the mayhem.
This was likely derived from former prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman’s book, entitled May 13: Before and After published in the same year of the riots in which he blamed the Communists.
Countering alternative takes
However, the film also sought to portray Umno leaders then as having taken every precaution to prevent the racial riots.
Prior to the Umno rally going awry, Harun was shown reiterating that the rally should be peaceful and urged participants to put away their weapons.
Even when the participants became out of control after witnessing the two bloodied youths, Harun had repeatedly shouted for them to stop, until he suffered chest pains.
kua kai soong and may 13 racial riot book 170507The scene appears to counter the version of the May 13 riots by author Kua Kia Soong in his book entitled May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969.
Kua’s book had blamed, among others, Harun for orchestrating the riots in a bid to oust then-premier Tunku Abdul Rahman.
The book, which was based on British declassified documents detailing observations by foreign diplomats and correspondents using dispatches in the country, also appeared to receive another rebuttal as the film portrayed these sources negatively.
In one scene, a group of foreign correspondents were shown arguing with an official as they were not allowed out due to a curfew, and subsequently said they would write with their “imagination” since their movement were restricted.
The National Operations Council chairperson and subsequently second premier Abdul Razak Hussein also shot down a foreign diplomat for disputing the casualties figure from the riots, demanding their source of information, to which the diplomat was unable to answer.
The portrayal is a good reminder to audiences of the May 13 racial riots – version as told, and which spectre is often raised, by the establishment.
The film also focused on a group of multiracial class of students and their lecturer who were threatened by Malay and Chinese mobs.
Despite their efforts to help each other regardless of race, they eventually drifted apart due to racial fears but later made up as the country pulled away from its dark history under Abdul Razak’s premiership.
The scenes made up about an hour of the film, while the in the second part, the attention shifted towards Abdul Razak and his deputy Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman.
Idolising Abdul Razak
Though it also touched on the struggle against the Communist threat, the New Economic Policy as well as BN’s 1974 general election victory, they were in flashes as the attention was on the two men.
Both of them were gravely ill but concealed their sickness from their families and struggled to perform their duties in the short life they had.
NONEIt also told of their close friendship, where in one instance, Ismail had asked Abdul Razak to take his personal doctor for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1973 in Canada after learning of the latter’s illness.
Ismail died of a heart attack while Abdul Razak was in Canada. Abdul Razak later insisted that Ismail be buried in the Heroes’ Mausoleum.
The pace of the second part was significantly slower than the first, but was emotionally manipulative.
It portrayed Abdul Razak’s slow and painful death and his family’s struggle to cope with the predicament.
As his condition deteriorated, one of his sons, Johari, spent most of the time by his deathbed but there were mentions of one “Jib” does make an appearance over the phone, presumably present-day Premier Najib.
After Abdul Razak’s death, there were several flashes of Abdul Razak interacting with common folk and how he had touched their lives.
One example was when he visited a run-down school and met a teacher who wore a torn tie.
He immediately instructed for facilities to be upgraded, the children be provided with necessities and even got the teacher a new tie, who went on to work at his office.
The film’s portryal of Abdul Razak was simplistic, with the bulk of it dedicated towards idolising the former premier whom had overseen several landmark policies of BN such as the New Economic Policy, Malay as the national language and Felda schemes.
No doubt large parts of the film were indeed based on research materials but they were religiously derived from the official version.
It is akin to flipping through a secondary school textbook, one-sided and shallow in its presentation but lacking in depth and hardly thought-provoking.
The film’s portrayals resonate well with BN’s age-old message, but airing it to the general populace now will likely solicit controversy and debate which may prove risky so near to a general election.
‘CARRIE RINA’ is a pseudonym. The writer is a film enthusiast who had the opportunity to watch the film at one of its previews held for different groups over the past months.
|8:31AM Feb 22, 2013|
YOURSAY ‘It looks like Umno is not willing to let bygones be bygones. If hatred is all they have, the people should not feel upset as they belong to a bygone era.’
Absalom: The timing of the appearance of the movie ‘Tanda Putera’ and its release are a clear indication of just how irresponsible, reckless and desperate the ruling regime can be.
They have no hesitation in trying to stir up racial tension and hatred and potential loss to businesses and the economy. Not that there is much chance of that now since Malaysians of all races have proven to be much more mature and are quite clear what the real issues are, as evident in the Bersih outings.
The fact that Pakatan Rakyat is made up of multiracial parties and PAS – an Islamic party which is getting huge support from non-Muslims – goes to show how far the people have come since 1969.
At this point, Malaysians of various races are not against one another but are together against the prevailing ills of corruption, injustice, abuse of power and poor management which is plaguing the nation.
Kee Thuan Chye: If the account of the film given here by Carrie Rina – that it is one-sided and shallow in its presentation, lacking in depth and hardly thought-provoking – is accurate, I have to say I am thoroughly disappointed that director Shuhaimi Baba has sunk so low as to have become a propagandist.
Kim Quek: So this is Umno’s secret weapon unleashed on the eve of the general election – a complete distortion of history to portray the Chinese as aggressors and the Malays, the victims.
This film, which is selectively played to Malay audience, is designed to incite racial hatred and fear, so that Malays will instinctively cling to Umno to seek solidarity and security. Whereas, the truth is: both Malays and Chinese were victims of certain Umno leaders’ greed for power, whereupon, hundreds, if not thousands of innocent lives were lost in this ugliest chapter of the nation’s history.
Such dastardly election tactic has also unmasked the deceitful and two-faced PM Najib Razak, who would risk engulfing the nation in racial fire so that he and his party could cling on to political power.
We were made sacrificial lambs once (in 1969) – to satiate Umno leaders appetite for power; let us be very determined that we, Malaysians of all races, will not be made suckers again.
Anonymous$&@?: I hope that some young and upcoming indie producer would shoot a short documentary of May 13 based on Kua Kia Soong’s book of the same title and put in on YouTube to counter the lies and bull that is being portrayed in ‘Tanda Putera’, which everyone knows is an Umno propaganda tool to stoke hatred against non-Malays.
Shows the true intention of PM Najib behind his 1Malaysia slogan, which is just a facade.
Hplooi: Watch this documentary ‘The Silent Riot’ by a young Malaysian (Nadira Ilana) about the riots in Sabah in 1987 and you may perhaps grasp the mindset and modus operandi of a certain key element in our political ecology.
GeneYen: The Umno-BN leaders are so adept and skilful at playing up something as important as religion against Pakatan, especially PAS. We must be prepared that they will be even better at playing up, and even bringing on, a replay of May13.
We have to be prepared for this possibility if they are booted out of Putrajaya in GE13. Maybe, just maybe, Lahad Datu is a simply a dry run to try out the readiness of the Home Ministry, police, army and the politicians.
Aries46: Whatever tales and propaganda that have been spun over the last 45 years to justify the massacre of the Chinese in May 1969, the perception of the man on the street is that the whole act of terror was planned and executed by Umno in order to seize power through its proclamation of the state of emergency that followed.
And the fact that this same regime can once again after 45 long years resurrect the spectre of May 13 through its ‘Tanda Putera’ propaganda merely to strike fear into the Malay electorate is most despicable and reprehensible.
It is heinous actions of this nature that shapes the perception of the layman as to what constitutes BN.
Ruben: Despite the cabinet deciding against releasing the movie, it has made its rounds with the intention of stirring up ugly memories and also unnecessary racial tension.
I don’t believe the version of Malaysian history as recorded in school books and pro-government media, as they are often twisted to suit the ruling party.
That is why this GE is so important – we cannot let the government literally get away with murder, corruption, racialism, lies and untold number of scandals.
Hopeful123: Who would believe that the minority Chinese wanted bloodshed? The minorities would be the losers, since the army, police and every other civil service are under the Malays. The Malays of today cannot be conned or bluffed anymore.
Cogito Ergo Sum: With the screening of this movie, BN has confirmed that it has overstayed its welcome.
A vote for BN in the old days was a vote for moderation. It is now a vile and racist party that is no longer relevant to the modern world, out of touch with the people’s aspirations and has a warped vision of the future.
Wanderer: I was there when this sad event unfolded at that time. Two of my Malay friends who were playing golf with me asked me to go home right away without finishing our game because I had to drive through a Malay kampung.
They were top civil servants who had received advance information of trouble in Kuala Lumpur. I was grateful to these two fellow Malaysians.
Relevancy: It looks like Umno is not willing to let bygones be bygones. If hatred is all they have, the people should not feel upset as they belong to a bygone era.
We should just show Umno and BN the exit.
Opah: The best part of this movie is that we, the Malaysian taxpayers, paid for it – a ‘free’ movie for Umno to propagate its lies and to frighten Malays into voting for BN in GE13.
|8:40AM Feb 22, 2013|
FREE YOURSAY ‘How does this movie ‘help to prevent May 13 happening again’? It’s like saying watching horror movies will help us get over our nightmares.’
Tanda Putera a double-edged sword
Bender: Is this how we are supposed to overcome the trauma of the May 13 incident? I didn’t experience the riot first hand and I have no idea what went on that day. But if I were to watch this movie, I may get traumatised by it.
Now ‘Tanda Putera’ director Suhaimi Baba, can you explain to me why I feel traumatised just by reading this account of the movie (imagine what would happen if I did watch it) when you said it is supposed to have the opposite effect?
I imagine if people who were actually there during the riot watch this, they would be experiencing the same thing too, perhaps with more devastating effect because they would have all their bad memories brought back.
Clearly this another tool meant for BTN (Biro Tatanegara) or BTN-style brainwashing. I swear I’m not going to watch this movie (and neither would any of my family members, if I can help it), not even if somebody gives me a HD (high definition) version of it for free.
YF: Where is the healing process? Suhaimi Baba, you’re lying. You don’t seem to know what you are producing, unless it is not you who are producing it but Umno.
And the fact that the opposition logos and Mao Zedong’s face are shown so clearly in this movie is proof that it is an Umno movie trying to pin the blame of the May 13 incident on the opposition with the intent of accusing them of being in cahoots with the communists.
This accusation is not history, this is ‘fitnah’ (slander). The nation was at war with communism so who in their right mind would carry Mao’s picture in 1969? Historically accurate? Hardly!
It is historically adulterated to suit Umno’s racist agenda prior to GE13. These are Nazi tactics. Stop it.
Kgen: How does a racially provocative movie like this “help to prevent May 13 happening again” as the stakeholders are fond of saying? It’s like saying watching horror movies will help a patient get over his or her nightmares.
Anonymous #19098644: The worst propaganda are the half-truths and untruths. It is a documented fact that weapons had been stored at the Selangor MB’s residence at the time of the May 13 riots.
It was Umno that instigated the riots. Malay rejection led to Malay seats like Balik Pulau falling. To regain power, Umno instigated racial hatred of the Chinese using exactly what Perkasa is doing now. They falsely claimed that the Malays would lose power and be sidelined.
Can you imagine opposition leaders Anwar Ibrahim and Abdul Hadi Awang sidelining their own race? The difference today is that it is not the Chinese versus the Malays, but Pakatan Rakyat versus BN. It is the corrupt Umno versus the people.
It is the lies of the mainstream media versus the strength of the Internet media. It is truth versus ignorance of information.
The rakyat today are better educated, more urbanised, more comfortable with the other races after 44 years. It means the threats and deception of the BN no longer work. Ultimately, it means the end of the BN.
Anonymous_4031: Everyone should read Kua Kia Soong’s book ‘May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969′. The author took great pains and at great cost and time to piece together this ugly and tragic episode of Malaysian history.
Mind you, Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first prime minister and Hussein Onn, the third prime minister, who both believed in justice, equality and fair play for all Malaysians, had to eventually resigned from Umno.
They could not stomach the wrongs that were being done under Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s regime.
JohnnyIpoh: The best unbiased version to read about the May 13 incident is Leon Comber’s ‘13th May 1969: A Historical Survey of Sino-Malay Relations’.
I’ve read Kua’s ‘May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969′. It’s a good reading but I found the analysis of the riots rather flimsy and academically not so rigorous where most of it were based on conspirational theory of internal power struggle within Umno to oust Tunku Abdul Rahman.
The best reading is still Comber’s book which traced the roots of May 13, 1969 ethnic riots way beyond the incident itself.
The academically rigorous historical survey done by Comber cover many decades of Malay-Sino relationship since the first Chinese community landed on the shores of Malaya up until the May 13 incident happen as well as the effect of the incident on ethnic relations afterwards.
Get Comber’s book as well as Kua’s book. Compare and evaluate yourself. Never limit yourself to only one source of information.
OMG!!: May 13 may have been eclipsed by the citizenship-for-vote scandal as the saddest and darkest day of Malaysia’s young history. It was the turning point of racial disunity in Peninsular Malaysia and is often used by irresponsible politicians to serve their own ends, this time, by the current PM and ex-PM.
There are as many stories as theories as to what were the actual causes of the tragic incident, including an allegation that it was a coup by some Umno ultras to grab power from the Tunku.
It therefore necessary to have a RCI (royal commission of inquiry) to establish the truth so that the wounds could be healed; innocent bystanders were adequately compensated and bring to a closure this tragic chapter of the country’s short history.
LJC: This is dirty politics for personal gain. Shame on the PM for approving the screening of the movie just before the general election, which is meant to fire up a certain group – the rural Malays – as well as to spook them.
PM, please use your position to bring the people together, not tear us apart. We are already a divided society, even though we pretend like we are not, and you are widening the division.
Kim Quek: So this is Umno’s secret weapon unleashed on the eve of the election – a complete distortion of history to portray the Chinese as aggressor and the Malays the victim. This film, which is selectively played to Malay audiences, is designed to incite racial hatred and fear, so that Malays will instinctively cling to Umno to seek solidarity and security.
Whereas, the truth is: both Malays and Chinese were victims of certain Umno leaders’ greed for power, whereupon, hundreds, if not thousands of innocent lives were lost in this ugliest chapter of the nation’s history.
Such dastardly election tactic has also unmasked the deceitful and two-faced Najib, who would risk engulfing the nation in racial fire so that he and his party could cling on to political power.
We were made sacrificial lambs once (in 1969) – to satiate Umno leaders appetite for power; let us be very determined that we -– Malaysians of all races – will not be made suckers again.
Maju: Najib, why show the film now? Are you telling the rakyat “like father, like son”?
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