It seems now the earliest possible date for the much awaited movie by acclaimed filmmaker Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba about the lives of Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman between May 1969 till January 1976, ‘Tanda Putera’ has been shifted to a date sometime in November.
It became controversial when the minister-in-charge of information, communications and culture Dato’ Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim Ph.D felt the starting bit of ‘Tanda Putera’ depicting situation that lead to the bloody racial riots of 13-16 May 1969, was ‘politically incorrect’ and ‘decided’ that the film should be screened after the 13th general elections. So, FINAS which was sponsoring part of the film, backed off and ‘Tanda Putera’ be taken off the queue for screening in the local cinemas slotted from 13 September.
When Cabinet decided two days ago that the decision to public screen ‘Tanda Putera’ rest on the censorship board’s approval, it seemed that the ‘Rais’ factor has been downplayed. Lembaga Penapisan Film, an agency under Home Ministry, already issued PG13 certificate on 7 June.
However, now that ‘Tanda Putera’ is off the wajib-tayang program queue system where FINAS slot a stream of locally produced movies in the cinemas as an affirmative action to ensure all 170 or so movies get to be screened. To get it back into the cinema circuits means FINAS got to slot it back at the end of the queue, all over again. Originally, FINAS already slotted ‘Tanda Putera’ for 13 September, a decision made four months ago.
Now, it seems that the earliest practical date for the public screening of ‘Tanda Putera’ in the cinema circuit is November. And it is believed that the much talked about ‘Control Freak’ Minister would not lift a finger to ensure that the movie is being ‘intervened’ for an earlier screening date, even though his own people all over the Ministry feel that it is a good movie to tell what happened in the past.
“Forget about 13 September. Another film has been slotted in”, an official of FINAS’s take on the matter. This person is dismayed and baffled why FINAS, which task is to develop and promote local film industry, did not defend ‘Tanda Putera’. Then again, the minister-in-charge of the arts, archives, culture and media has this habit to appoint CEOs of agencies report to him in very short stints. It is a very effective method for them to demonstrate the ultimate loyalty to the man, not the cause, principles and policies.
Bottomline, its all about the ego of an expired man versus the bigger picture, in the literal sense.