Onus is on UMNO Youth and Utusan Malaysia to substantiate their allegation that “The New Village” glorified the MCP and demonised the police and soldiers

In today’s Malaysiakini report “Unfair to ban ‘New Village’ on trailer alone, says Shabery”, the Communications and Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek said he was not surprised that the film had drawn protests from UMNO Youth and party-owned Utusan Malaysia as I too “over-reacted” to another controversial “Tanda Putera” film after the screening of its trailer.

He said it is unfair to judge ‘The New Village’ based on its trailer release along and said a “rational” decision must now be made on its fate.

I invite Shabery to specify how I had “over-reacted” to “Tanda Putera” after the screening of its trailer, as I had never seen the trailer of “Tanda Putera”.

My first statement on Tanda Putera is available on my blog, dated 4th August 2012, as follows:

Tanda Putera’s “urination” episode – downright lie and dangerous falsehood

Despite his 1Malaysia signature slogan, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is continuing to allow his UMNO/Barisan Nasional election campaign machineries to disseminate downright lies and dangerous falsehoods calculated to incite racial hatred and undermine national unity with the approach of the 55th National Day and 49th Malaysia Day celebrations.

One of these “downright lies and dangerous falsehoods” flooding the UMNO/BN social media and exploited by the 10,000 UMNO/BN cybertroopers is that I had caused the May 13 riots in 1969 through shouting the most racist slogans in the streets of Kuala Lumpur on May 11, 12 and 13, 1969.

Despite my firm denial of these wild and reckless allegations in my speech in Parliament on March 22, 2012, declaring that I was never in Kuala Lumpur on May 11, 12 and 13, 1969, these “downright lies and dangerous falsehoods” have continued to make their rounds in leaps and bounds in the cyberspace.

On 20th July 2012, Malaysiakini carried the following report “New May 13 movie courts controversy”:

New May 13 movie courts controversy

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.

A few film critics have 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.

The 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 the success of the opposition parties 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 depicted 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 Siang 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.

The 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, though Malaysiakini 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 had vehemently denied that the DAP was involved in instigating the race riots of 1969, and had said that he was not in Kuala Lumpur 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,” 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.

While 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 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, she said, that was the message behind the title of the movie, Tanda Putera, or signs of the greatness of princes or 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.

I was in Sabah on July 20 on a three-day visit with DAP MP for Segambut Lim Lip Eng. On the very same night at the DAP Inaman Sepanggar ceramah, I referred to the Malaysiakini report on the May 13 film and denied in the strongest possible terms that I had “urinated at the foot of the flagpole bearing the Selangor flag at the then Selangor MB’s Harun Idris’ house” as earlier claimed by the movie earlier Facebook page, and sparking the May 13 riots as I was simply not in Kuala Lumpur on May 11, 12 and 13 of 1969!

Even the photograph that was used in the movie’s earlier Facebook page was not a photograph taken in 1969 but was from a different incident in Sabah 15 years later in1984!

In the past fortnight, the legion of UMNO/BN cybertroopers have escalated their campaign of downright lies and dangerous falsehoods based on the movie’s “urination” episode to incite racial hatred and undermine national unity – completely oblivious that this is the month when all Malaysians should make a special effort to come together as Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region to emphasise and underline their common identity as Malaysians.

The spokepersons of the movie have said that the film was based on a lot of research, such as studying documented materials and photographs, to make sure the scenes were backed by historical facts.

Where were the documented materials and photographs that I had urinated “at the foot of the flagpole…at the Selangor MB Harun Idris’ house” on May 11, 12 or 13, 1969 when I was never in Kuala Lumpur? For that matter, where are the documented materials or photographs to show that there was such an incident and that it was not a mere figment of the imagination?

The White Paper issued by the National Operations Council in 9th October 1969 entitled “The May 13 Tragedy” made no reference to any such urination incident.

If the movie Tanda Putraja gives a biased and unbalanced account of the May 13 tragedy in 1969, it will be the cause of grave national misunderstanding and discord on the occasion of the 55th National Day/49th Malaysia Day, making a total mockery of the 1Malaysia objective to build a united Malaysian nation!

Can Shabery point out how I had “over-reacted” to the film ‘Tanda Putera’?

In the case of ‘The New Village’, I have not seen the film but UMNO Youth and Utusan Malaysia’s allegation that it “glorified” the Malayan Communist Party as heroes and put the Malay Army Regiment, the police and British soldiers as “enemies and bad people”, is not substantiated by the trailer of the ‘The New Village”.

The onus is therefore on the UMNO Youth and Utusan Malaysia to substantiate their allegation that “The New Village” glorified the MCP and demonised the police and soldiers at the time.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah