The day politics failed to audition into showbiz

Kamil (red shirt) exchanging handshake with Jurey (yellow shirt).

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – May 4, 2016: Whoever came up with the idea of trying to mash-up politics and showbiz clearly was not thinking straight.

In fact, what appeared to be the latest attempt to shoehorn politics into the country’s entertainment industry did not provoke any applause from those of the film-making community.

The controversy was shoved into the limelight after Coalition of Malaysian Filmmakers’ Association (Gafim) president Datuk Jurey Latiff Rosli publicly complained about National Film Development Corporation (Finas) director-general Datuk Kamil Othman.

The tiff quickly escalated into a heated debate after Jurey’s letter, expressing displeasure over Kamil’s administration, to Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak was leaked into the cyberspace.

Nevertheless, the week-long feud ended amicably today as the duo decided to iron out their differences for the good of the industry.

“Both of us have ideas to improve the industry, and there are bound to be differences,” Kamil said at a press conference in Finas’ Merdeka Film Studio Complex here, today..

“But I’m glad Gafim and Jurey have chosen to meet us to iron out these issues, so that the industry continues to grow.”

However the news of Kamil and Jurey apparent attempt to settle their differences was not entirely surprising because rumors of it had already been floating in the cyberspace since two days ago.

A picture of the duo shaking each other’s hands was widely circulated in the social media even before the press conference.

Be that as it may, the rather saucy feedback from those involved in film-making over the notion of having politics infused into their turf proved that, in showbiz, politics is a big no-no.

Though Jurey did clarify that he had no ulterior motive, many were of the opinion that he was eyeing for Kamil’s post and was trying get it via Salleh’s help.

This however, did not go down well with almost everyone in the industry as many of them came to Kamil’s defence which led to the #KamiSokongKamil social media campaign.

“#KamiSokongKamil for the better change he brings and for the greater good of the creative industry…” was the response from Istanbul Aku Datang heroine Lisa Surihani via twitter.

“#KamiSokongKamil He got visions. Let him lead…” twitted renowned film director Aziz M.Osman.

 “What’s this I hear there’s a move trying to undermine Finas’s KP (Kamil)? Please allow him to make some needed changes! #KamiSokongKamil,” tweeted seasoned actress Fatimah Abu Bakar.

Interestingly, yet not entirely surprising, Kamil’s relentless passion for filmmaking captivated not only Malaysians but those of other countries as well.

Amateur filmmaker from Vietnam, Hang Nguyen Luong, pledge her support to Kamil saying that “it is people like him that makes us believe that change is possible.”

“I learned a lot from the workshop, and also got the chance to meet Datuk Kamil,” Hang wrote on her Facebook wall as she pointed out that she met Kamil at a filmmaking workshop in Johor Bharu.

“I remember hearing him talk about cinema and his firm belief of an upcoming generation of SEA (South East Asia) filmmakers, “the Rice New Wave.”

“I don’t think in my country we have such a person like him, in such position, with such knowledge, humour, experience and a passion to change,” she wrote.

Facebooker Leon Tan also shared a picture of Kamil posing together with American comic book artist, writer and also the co-founder of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kevin Eastman; and Oscar-nominated film director and visual effect artists, Tim Miller.

“Long before Datuk Kamil headed Finas, he has been a tireless ambassador for our creative content industry.

“It’s no wonder why his detractors fear the much-needed change he and his colleagues bring to our industry.

“We don’t want a bureaucracy, we want a bastion. We don’t want a caretaker, we want a catalyst. We want doers, not doormats; we want an explorer, not an expired official and their sycophants.

“I have full faith in Dato’ Kamil to build and lead a revitalised Finas for the future,” Leon wrote on his Facebook wall.

Despite the “crisis” appeared to be over, questions do linger whether Jurey will withdraw his letter of complaints that he had sent to Salleh.



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at