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Netizens demand Finas’ clarification on language segregation

KUALA LUMPUR – August 9, 2016: Scores of netizens are demanding a further explanation from the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) over the language-based category for the upcoming Malaysia Film Festival (FFM28).

The decision to separate this year’s best picture award under the Bahasa Malaysia and non-Bahasa Malaysia was announced last week and has since been widely criticised.

This decision affects movies like ‘Ola Bola’ and ‘Jagat’ which are not in Bahasa Malaysia and has led to some industry players pledging to boycott the festival.

In response to the uproar, Finas’ director-general Datuk Kamil Othman commented that the decision was due to the government’s push to promote the national language, insisting that the two sub-categories are on equal footing.

Kamil also reiterated that a movie could only be nominated in the best film category if 70 per cent of its dialogue is in Bahasa Malaysia.

Even so, many Facebook users feel that the ruling is unfair to film makers and demand for a clarifications from Finas.

Azman A. Hamid commented: “Segregation is already wrong morally. The promotion of official language? Are you kidding me with such excuse?

“You people have lost your focus on the main purpose of the festival, which is to choose the best Malaysian-made film, when you added your personal criteria to discriminate the films,” Azman wrote.

Hii Kwong Hua wrote: “It is not your job to promote our country’s official language. Your job is to promote our locally made films. Your statement is in itself very contradictory, so please explain to us.”

“A film is for anyone to go see and relax at the same time,” Kjoo Ong commented, “So, tell us, why must there be segregation in awarding and thus  allow it to become a racial issue?”

Jaded Mesh wrote: “You’re saying that 70 per cent of a film’s dialogue should be in Malay language. Then, what about several movies that were not using standard Malay language like that of ‘Mat Rempit’?

“It’s not wrong to promote the national language, but why put ‘Ola Bola’ and ‘Jagat’ in such a position when allowed movies using improper language to compete in the past? What’s your point?”

Nevertheless, some support the Finas’ decision.

Mohd Rizaini Ghazali wrote: “I don’t see anything wrong done by Finas. They are just promoting the use of national language in local movies.”

Esa Adam said: “The rule is there for so many years. The affected producers should know this rule. Why do you have to question it now?”

In response to the debate, Kamil, after a dialogue session “#tanyafinas 2.0” yesterday told reporters that it is possible for the FFM’s organisers to expand the current award categories or to remove the non-Bahasa Malaysia category.

However, such a decision will depend on the outcome of the discussion between Finas and its strategic partner, the Malaysia Film Producers Association, as well as the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia.

The Mole is still waiting for further updates and clarifications from Finas.

The festival will be held on September 3.

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Amira Nutfah Zulkifli

Amira Nutfah Zulkifli

A budding journalist. Aside of struggling to understand Malaysian political scenario, she is inspired to study and fight for women's emancipation. Above the rest; she simply loves her nation.