So as most things are in our industry, it was a small storm in a tea cup.
A few people flexing their feeble muscles, a couple of individuals who think they are well versed in the Finas Act and a few others thrown in into a misplaced subplot. In the end – it was another bangsawan.
The incumbent Director-General of FINAS has since made a public statement about his extension and also his disappointment over the writings of one popular Malay newspaper columnists who goes by the pen name of Kak Pora.
The statement he made goes like this:
Pada masa sama Mahyidin juga didakwa oleh penulis Kak Pora enggan ditemui media berhubung dengan isu dana hangus.
Soal dana hangus pernah disiarkan oleh Hip pada 9 Ogos lalu iaitu mengenai produser enggan membayar semula pinjaman bank untuk menerbitkan filem yang dianggarkan berjumlah RM8 juta.
Mahyidin berkata, kebanyakan kandungan artikel yang ditulis dalam ruangan Kak Pora itu kurang tepat, malahan ia tidak sepatutnya ditimbulkan tatkala kehangatan isu semasa mengenai FINAS sudah reda menerusi penjelasan daripada pegawai kanan kementerian, termasuk daripada Timbalan Ketua Setiausaha (Kebudayaan) Kementerian Penerangan, Komunikasi dan Kebudayaan, Datuk Mohammed Mohd Daud.
Perlukah saya (Mahyudin) hendak memaklumkan kepada semua pihak bahawa Menteri sudah melanjutkan perkhidmatan KP FINAS? Saya fikir tidak perlu, nanti apa kata pihak lain pula. Ia kelihatan kurang manis. Biarlah pihak lain yang beritahu tetapi bukan daripada saya.
Saya agak kecewa dan tulisan Kak Pora itu menjatuhkan maruah saya. Lebih-lebih lagi apabila dikaitkan dengan surat sokongan daripada Perdana Menteri, jelasnya.
Berhubung dakwaan beliau mengelak dari media untuk mengulas dana hangus, Mohd Mahyidin sekali lagi menjelaskan, perkara itu sebenarnya adalah tanggungjawab antara pihak bank dengan produser sebagai peminjam.
Menurutnya, peranan FINAS sekadar memberi surat sokongan atau perakuan bahawa sesebuah karya daripada mana-mana syarikat perfileman layak diberikan pinjaman.
Katanya, walaupun FINAS mengeluarkan surat sokongan, pihak bank mempunyai prosedurnya sendiri untuk membuat keputusan akhir sama ada pemohon layak diberikan pinjaman atau sebaliknya.
Urusan pinjaman daripada kalangan produser filem ini ditadbir oleh pihak bank. Kenapa pula saya hendak mendedahkan syarikat penerbitan yang gagal membayar pinjaman ini? Lagipun saya boleh disaman oleh syarikat penerbitan kalau memberitahu pihak mana yang gagal membayar pinjaman itu kerana mendedahkan perkara sulit antara peminjam dengan bank.
There’s a few disconcerting comments made.
Is it correct that he shouldn’t inform the industry that he has been given a three-month extension by the Minister? Who would be the right person then to inform the industry? The Ministry? The Minister? The Deputy Minister? The Secretary-General of the Ministry?
Is there anything wrong in him informing the industry of the extension which was confirmed by the Minister? Why keep the industry in the dark? Isn’t he proud to have been the three month extension to lead the industry via FINAS?
I doubt a three-month official extension in his contract comes under the jurisdiction of the Official Secrets Act. In fact, by informing the industry of his extension, it would have put paid to rumors of other personalities vieing for the seat.
Now at least, the industry will have a three month rumor-mongering session of who will replace him.
In fact, with this extension, shouldn’t the industry also wonder why he was given the extension? Is there anything of significance that he can do in these extra three months that he could have accomplished within the last four years at FINAS’s helm? The only thing I can see of any significance is the organising of the oft-postponed National Film Awards.
Shouldn’t the industry also be wondering that by giving the extension to the current DG, it also means that the Ministry has not found a suitable replacement for him? This is weird because the industry is a billion dollar industry.
The Ministry has in fact recently identified that the creative industry is an important contributor to the national GDP bringing in RM6 billion annually and providing employment for more than 126,000 people annually. (This number differs remarkably from the amount of RM8 trillion quoted by the Film Producers Association in March last year).
What we would like to know is how much of this RM6 billion was actually contributed by the local film industry (Feature films and TV). It could be small because if this number includes the revenue generated by the cinema industry (which should not be considered as part and parcel of the creative industry) and also the distribution sector of the market, plus the advertising and TV commercial industry, the amount generated by local feature film and TV production industry isn’t that big.
What I am trying to say is that let’s give a better and more accurate picture of how healthy the local film industry is. Is it a really healthy RM6 billion industry? Or just a RM100 million industry. If it is RM6 billion, then the DG’s position in the industry is one helluva important post.
Now, what about him saying that FINAS only plays a small role in the approving of loans to producers.
“Peranan FINAS sekadar memberi surat sokongan atau perakuan bahawa sesebuah karya daripada mana-mana syarikat perfileman layak diberikan pinjaman.”
Is this true? Does this mean that once FINAS approves and recommends that a production can receive a loan it then plays a hands-off role? Does the bank (in this instance) BSN then take over the process of evaluating and approving the loan and can ignore the recommendation?
If this is true, than logically, if the Bank can overlook a FINAS recommendation for a feature film loan for reasons only known to them, the Bank can also offer loans to a non-FINAS recommended movie for a producer they believe is capable of ‘servicing’ a loan.
What is the criteria for the Bank to now release the loan?
I don’t understand the DG’s statement about this. As far as I know, BSN is entrusted to administrate the loan. They do not have a say as to who should or should not receive a loan once FINAS approves it. Unless of course, there is an unwritten law or policy that allows BSN independent assessment of the loan application. If there is then really what function does FINAS play in this loan process if BSN can ignore the recommendation?
Finally, I think the film industry has a right to information regarding the status of the fund.
They have a right to know who has received the loans. They have a right to know who has failed to service the loans and default on their repayments. Why? The fund belongs to the industry and they have the right to know. If such official information is made known, many producers would not believe in rumors that the loans are only given to a select few. They would also then understand what proposals or what genres are recommended by FINAS and receive the loans.
They would also then be free to question why a company can receive three consecutively loans without fully repaying the loans and then make a request for a fourth loan when FINAS only allows one company to apply for loans three times and that too if their repayments are serviced regularly. I’m not saying that this has happened. I’m saying that the industry should be able to weed out rumors and only be presented with official data.
Shouldn’t the FINAS DG should be courageous enough to inform the industry with facts and truths? But when he is quoted as saying:
” Urusan pinjaman daripada kalangan produser filem ini ditadbir oleh pihak bank. Kenapa pula saya hendak mendedahkan syarikat penerbitan yang gagal membayar pinjaman ini? Lagipun saya boleh disaman oleh syarikat penerbitan kalau memberitahu pihak mana yang gagal membayar pinjaman itu kerana mendedahkan perkara sulit antara peminjam dengan bank.”
If the industry knew who these companies are that received loans and did not pay it back, we ourselves would then know which company not to support. This is because the fund is the industry’s and we should not tolerate any producer who received loans from this fund and not pay it back. Unless of course the fund is really ‘free money’ as is referred to by many in the industry who can’t seem to get any for themselves.
If this is the case, really then, it's a complete waste of time for me to even comment about this.