Monday, September 29, 2008


During my first year as a producer in TV3, we always thought of producing things that were different from the usual fare you saw on TV. So when the station's first Hari Raya came in 1984, we at TV3, wanted to be different even when it comes to getting the Prime Minister's message on air.
I decided to get the management to agree to allow me to shoot the then Prime Minister,Tun Dr Mahathir, and his wife, Tun Dr Hasmah, at their official residence. I didn't want us to take the official feed from RTM - with the PM behind the rostrum reading a prepared text.
I wanted the people or the public to get a glimpse of Tun as a father figure, without the trappings of authority.
Surprisingly, we got the greenlight to do just that. So, about two weeks into Ramadhan, we were allowed to go to the official residence of the Prime Minister and I got to direct this great man. It would be my first of many contacts with him.
When we reached the house, we decided that the living room would be where we would shoot the Prime Minister.
What I wanted was for Tun and his wife to be seated on the sofa with a table in front of them. On the table, I wanted a stack of Hari Raya cards that they had received from the rakyat.
When Tun appeared in the same room, it was like a dream come true. My hands must have been wet and clammy when I shook hands with him. I cannot remember much of the details, but Tun and his wife were already dressed in baju Melayu and baju kurong, and they were very much at ease.
They waited for my directions - jeez...imagine me directing the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Anyway, I told them that I wanted them to talk to the public in the most informal manner. Greet the public, pick up a card or two, read them, and then wish the viewers a Selamat Hari Raya.
The moment I most remembered was when Tun Hasmah shed tears reading one of the cards before wishing the viewers a wonderful Raya. That was something we couldn't have planned.It was a gem.
The shoot took about an hour. Just like that, it was over.
When the Raya message was aired over TV3 on Raya, I remembered it causing quite a stir. The Ministry of Information and RTM must have popped a blood vessel. We had upped the ante. We caught them with their pants down and they didn't like it.
For the first time, the Malaysian TV viewers were given a glimpse of the Prime Minister and his wife in a different light, and it was brought to them by the first private TV station in Malaysia, and not RTM.
Somehow, that didn't ring right for many parties. So, it was the last such message from the Prime Minister. Since then, it was always the official bland Raya message behind the rostrum in between flags, over and over again. Don't know why they don't want the PM to be seen as just another human being, as another Malaysian.
Whatever the reason was, the memories I took home from the shoot will always be amongst my most treasured moments as a TV producer.


TV Man said...

I was to young to remember, but you describe the scene so beautifully, is there any chance we can catch the clip online? On Youtube perhaps :)

anwardi said...

Hi tv man,
I dont think anyone outside TV3 would have had a copy of the Raya speech. This was years before the digital age and before the advent of Youtube. However, I am sure TV3 has the recording in its archive. Who knows, maybe when TV3 builds its own Museum, it will show the clip to viewers.