By Zairil Khir Johari
According to the Malaysiakini articled titled “Zam: DAP irate as its logo stands out in Tanda Putera” dated 4 September 2013, former minister of information Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin is quoted as saying that the DAP is against the film because the party’s logo is prominently displayed in the film’s controversial May 13, 1969 racial riot scene.
I would like to state that I have seen the film, and having done so, I admit that I am sorely disappointed. However, my dissatisfaction against the film stems not so much from the fact that the DAP was constantly maligned (indeed, our logo appeared to be omnipresent in most of the racial riot scenes, although there was no direct reference linking the party to the riots). This is because I had expected nothing less than a perversion of reality, as how the DAP has been constantly victimised and misrepresented in recent times, most notably over the CEC election.
I was also not surprised by the grossly unfair and one-sided portrayal of the Chinese as the main instigators of the racial riots. That too was expected, considering the film was fully funded by a RM4.8 million grant from FINAS (National Film Development Corporation) and MDEC (Multimedia Development Corporation). After all, race-baiting and provocation is everyday fare for the BN-controlled mainstream media.
However, what most surprised me, and disappointed me at the same time, was the fact that despite the record sum of money invested, the film failed miserably in its main objective – to honour and glorify the true achievements of the late Tun Abdul Razak.
Tun Razak, our second prime minister, is also known as Bapa Pembangunan (Father of Development), a sobriquet that reflects his efforts in championing extensive land reforms undertaken in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Under his stewardship, the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) and Urban Development Authority (UDA) were birthed, which ultimately led to rapid rural development and mass urbanisation of the Malays. Through FELDA, rural Malays were resettled into newly developed areas and granted land with which they could engage in modern agriculture. UDA, on the other hand, was tasked to oversee the urban migration of Malays.
As a result of these initiatives, millions of Malays were lifted out of poverty, while education and economic opportunities became accessible to the rural Malays. Consequently a thriving Malay middle class now exists today. That, above all, was Tun Razak’s greatest contribution to the country.
Unfortunately, anyone who watches the movie will be unable to appreciate any of those efforts. Instead, the viewer will merely learn that were it not for Tun Razak, Malaysia Airlines would today be known as MAL instead of MAS.
The gross abuse of millions of public funds for self-aggrandising propaganda notwithstanding, I believe the greatest tragedy of this film is its failure to contribute anything positive about one of our nation’s great leaders.