Tanda Putera – False, Dubious and Extremely Manipulative
Director agrees ‘Tanda Putera’ depicts Chinese instigators as behind May 13
BY IDA LIMSEPTEMBER 2, 2013
But Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba stressed that the film’s contentious depiction of events in the country’s history was merely due to historians saying that most of the parties to blame were from the Chinese community.
“As most of the Communist insurgents and urban agitators were Chinese, the representation in the movie is as what is written in history. It is not that the movie is making (the) wrong representation,” she told The Malay Mail Onlinetoday.
Shuhaimi explained that “Tanda Putera” was based on historical facts, saying that many of the Chinese Communists had then acted cruelly against their own race and had intended to seize control of the country.
“Tanda Putera talked about Communists, urban bandits and armed insurgents and the radicals. In that era, if you know history, the Chinese were split.
“A historian said almost 95 per cent of Communist agitators then were from Chinese community. They could be very cruel to another Chinese not supporting them. That’s facts of history,” she said, but declined to name the historian at this point in time.
“Many radical Communist provocateurs were resentful of the country’s leadership as they did not want to be in this country but could not go back to China. Or they wanted to own the country by force or uprisings,” the award-winning filmmaker added.
Yesterday, MCA leaders had said it was important not to make sweeping generalisations of the turbulent period in the country’s history, with MCA vice-president Datuk Wee Ka Siong saying that an ethnic group should not be held responsible for the actions of individuals.
“As I’ve said, it is important not to make generalisations. We should not blame the Chinese community for that occurrence,” Wee had said, referring to the May 13 riots.
In another statement sent to The Malay Mail Online today, Shuhaimi repeated her previous statement that “Tanda Putera” is not a documentary, expressing her hope that it would encourage Malaysians to find out more about the country’s history.
“Tanda Putera was meant to meet especially the young audience, in cinemas and hopefully inspire you to know more and open up the pages of history of this country.
“Whether based on historical facts, or true events, ‘Tanda Putera’ is a movie. It’s not a documentary. Movie-going culture draws a clear line separating the two,” she wrote.
In fending off accusations that the government had poured in RM 4.8 million to back the film in a bid to push its contentious version of the May 13 riots, Shuhaimi said that such funding was necessary for history-based and nationalistic films.
She said there was a lack of market demand for such films, which she said go against the “commercial” trend.
“Getting audience, mostly young movie-goers, to support nationalistic or history-based films is an on-going struggle,” she said.
She say producers would shy away from producing such films unless the “market trend starts changing”, saying that they would be more ready to risk budgets of RM1.5 million for commercial films such as those in the action, horror and thriller genres.
“So simply put ‘Tanda Putera’ would not be possible without support grants from FINAS and Mdec (Multimedia Development Corporation) to make this movie,” she said.
Shuhaimi had previously explained that “Tanda Putera” is essentially about Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and his deputy Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman — “two men who gave up everything, including their lives for the country”.
In her statement today, Shuhaimi said Malaysians should be proud of the sacrifices of these two leaders, whom she said had shaped the country.
“I have no qualms in telling the story of two great leaders with the highest sense of integrity. We should be proud of them. Their sacrifices and sense of loyalty are of epic proportions,” she said.
Last Saturday, minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the Chinese community should not feel slighted over the controversial film “Tanda Putera”, which allegedly portrays the former as having sparked the May 13 riots in 1969.
“The Chinese community as a whole is not responsible for what happened in 1969, only the individuals, they are the ones who should feel guilty.
“I personally feel that there are many Chinese Malaysians who are very Malaysian and they will not involve with this and they should not be blamed because of a few Chinese individuals who were involved,” the minister of tourism and culture told reporters.
Nazri, who said he has watched the film, which was originally slated for release on September 13 last year and premièred on August 29, said it was “well-researched” and reflects the “reality” of the turbulent period in the country’s history.
“Tanda Putera” met with controversy last year after an administrator uploaded to Facebook a photograph of a man urinating on a flagpole, purportedly a still from the movie, 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).”
Travesty of truth and distortion of history for Nazri to claim that Tanda Putera is well-researched movie and May 13, 1969 riots was caused by Chinese
By Lim Kit Siang
It is a travesty of the truth and distortion of history for the Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz to claim that Tanda Putera is a well-researched movie and that the May 13, 1969 racial riots was caused by the Chinese.
No well-researched and historically-faithful movie would have succumbed to flights of wild imagination as to create the fictitious urination scene by Chinese youths at the flag-pole of the well-guarded Selangor Mentri Besar’s residence as one of causes provoking the May 13 racial riots – reckless of the racial misunderstanding, hatred and conflict that could be generated today after 44 years by this totally fictitious episode and downright lie.
Similarly, no well-researched and historically-faithful movie would have concocted a total lie, noted by Free Malaysia Today journalist K. Pragalath in his film review “Tanda Putera falls flat”, where he observed:
“Tanda Putera opens with a dramatic scene of an incident where DAP campaign workers kill an Umno campaign helper two weeks prior to the general election then.”
This is not history but pure fiction – nay, it is unadulterated evil, wicked falsehood and a treacherous and treasonous tale, for there was simply no such incident in 1969 where “DAP campaign workers kill an Umno campaign helper two weeks prior to the general election then”.
Nazri has done Malaysian nation-building a great disservice in making the baseless claim that the the May 13 riots was sparked by the Chinese, just as it would be most slanderous and most irresponsible for anyone to blame the May 13 riots on the Malays.
The May 13 riots was not caused by the Chinese or Malays but by irresponsible individuals who plunged the country into the most tragic and darkest period in the nation’s history.
Who are the culprits of the May 13, 1969 riots? This is subject of conflicting accounts.
This is why in my first speech in Parliament 42 years ago on February 23, 1971, I called for a Commission of Inquiry into the May 13, 1969 racial riots to find out their causes, assess the racial polarization in the country and to make recommendations to prevent a recurrence of the May 13, 1969 racial riots and arrest the racial polarization in the country.
My proposal for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the May 13 riots is still relevant and valid today, not so much to apportion blame or to punish the culprits as 44 years had elapsed since the occurrence of the national tragedy in 1969, but to ascertain the true causes and developments to present the historical truth to present and future generations and to heal the country’s worst racial wounds and to remove the spectre of May 13 from Malaysian history.
This would be be more worthwhile and constructive than spending public funds to allow a movie director the “creative licence” to concoct fictitious events about the May 13, 1969 riots, which could only worsen racial relations and polarisation in the country.
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