Sunday, September 23, 2012


We are Malays…maybe…I think so...not quite sure…
By Anwardi Jamil
In the constitution, the Malays are given a definition. Article 160 of the Federal Constitution defines the Malays as someone born to a Malaysian citizen who professes to be a Muslim, habitually speaks the Malay language, adheres to Malay customs and is domiciled in Malaysia.

As simplistic as it maybe, are the Malays of Malaysia today a mirror of what was defined in the constitution? One may argue that the true Malays are found in the kampungs, so where does that leave us the urban Malays. Are we comfortable being who we are? Are we confident of our heritage?  Do we even protect the Malayness that our forefathers took centuries to define?

Who controls and shapes the Malay image in the country - the kampung folks or the urban Malays in the corridors of power?

Ask any urban Malay – do they send their children to silat classes? Do they tell their children to take up Malay dance classes? Do they buy books about local Malay legends and folklore? Do they use peribahasa Melayu to describe events and explain them to their children?
I would be surprised if any of them say yes.

In my opinion, urban Malays, who I feel controls the future of the Malay-ness of the Malays, are far from being Malays as stated in the Constitution.

How so? Let’s just look at the situation the Malays are in today.

Check out the Malays in the civil service. They only wear batik shirts only on Thursdays, not because they want to, but because they are ordered to. Batik to many would be too formal and too ‘belia’ to be worn anywhere else or at any time.

Wearing the baju Melayu is a ‘maybe’ outfit for most Malay on Fridays and a must during festivities like Hari Raya and weddings. It used to be the daily wear of any Malay. How many Malays are brave or confident enough to wear the kain pelekat when visiting the Malls?

In the corporate world, the executive Malays are more comfortable conversing in English, not because they want to, but because they believe that the non-Malays do not speak Malay fluently to carry on a fluent conversation. Yet, when they give presentations to the government departments, they scurry to polish their Bahasa Malaysia speech and delivery.

As Muslims, the Malays are also guilty to let Arabian culture and traditions replace theirs. The jubbah and the serban, synonymous with Arabic identity are replacing the songkok and baju Melayu. The Arabic kaftan is also now a preferred outfit to by the Malay ladies who once used to look like a million dollars wearing the kebaya. So much so, that the kebaya may soon be associated more as the traditional outfit of the Nyonyas than that of the Malay women.

Whilst the Indians protect their Bharatanatyam with such jealousy from being tarnished or even diluted, our dances have gone the other way. Answer me this, where can one go, for example, to see the beautiful classic Asyik dance performance today? 

Recently in a Raya musical programme, whilst a singer was delivering a traditional Malay Raya song, she was accompanied by dancers who were wearing baju Melayu with sneakers and baseball caps fusing the joget with breakdancing. How low has the Malay culture gone down to?

Why are we so scared now to even use the keris as a symbol of Malay-ness? Is it wrong to be confident and proud of one’s own race, culture and traditions of which the keris is one of its most significant symbols? How many Malays today under the age of 30 even know the names of the various parts and aspects of the keris? Do they know what parts are referred to as the hulu, the bilah, the pendongkok, the cicak, the sampir, the lok and the mata? Therefore, who is to blame when others can easily criticise the Malays when they use the keris as part and parcel of one’s own culture, and no one comes forward to defend it? We are even timid when defending our culture against the Indonesians who keep claiming intellectual rights to Malay culture like the batik, the dances we have, the cuisine and even our language, accusing us as ‘malings’ (thieves) of their culture and traditions.

How many of us Malays even talk about pusaka these days? How many would find it difficult to ‘mematekkan diri’ when speaking to Royalty? I mean, do you think it is okay to use ‘aku’ and ‘saya’, or worse, you and I, when talking to Royalty?

It is really strange to me, why we as Malays are so willing to assimilate the traditions and cultures of others whilst diluting our own? Aren’t we proud of our traditions? Aren’t we worried that within two generations, the Malay heritage and traditions may be lost forever, only to be found in museums, books and documentaries?

Whilst there is a concerted effort to protect the sanctity of the Bahasa Malaysia language that has taken centuries to be perfected, I am disappointed not to see much effort to truly instil the love for Malay culture and traditions within the younger generation of the Malay society.  I understand that cultures need to move with the times and evolve, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t jealously protect our own cultures with the passion (that) the Balinese, the Japanese, the Indians, the Arabs and the Africans show for theirs.

The love for culture, especially our own should be instilled during the primary school days. Children (of all races) should be taught to love batik painting, tarian Melayu, lagu Melayu asli, perbalas pantun, main gasing, silat, wayang kulit, bangsawan and many other disappearing traditions. Only then could we protect it (Malay culture) with confidence.

If we fail, then the definition of the Malays as set out in the Federal Constitution becomes a grey area, because we will not fit into the Clause that says we are adhering and practicing Malay customs.


At last, the greenlight for my new magazine, my first attempt at publishing, Skrip2Skrin, has been received. InsyaAllah, the inaugural issue will appear at selected newsstands come this December.
Many are asking why go into publications? Adex figures are coming down. The magazine market is already flooded with thousands of magazines. So why do it?
Well, for one, I have always wondered why there isn't a full fledge local magazine in any language that covers the local film, television, broadcasting, visual media and content industry in a serious manner? Having been part of a filmmaking family all my life, I always feel that, even today, there are many who think that the industry is a peripheral industry, one that is not serious, where revenues are not consistent and that it does not merit any serious discussion or to be afforded much time.
Well, maybe the Malaysian feature film industry can be considered 'unimportant' and 'insignificant' about twenty thirty years ago. But today, it is part of a billlion Ringgit content industry that is burgeoning. At least 40 feature film titles are being produced annually. Thousands of hours of television content are being produced yearly for RTM, STMB and Astro. Billions are spent and made in content creation and advertising revenue yearly through these mediums. Yet, surprisingly no local magazine or journal has ever been published for the creative content industry.
Heck, even the advertising fraternity has one...Adoi! So why not the content industry? One that is published in Bahasa Malaysia and English so that everyone in the industry, and foreign observers of the local film industry, can read and update their knowledge about what is going on in the Malaysian creative content industry.
Having said that, the domestic entertainment magazine industry is flourishing. In BM there many titles of which URTV, Media, Hai! and Mangga lead the way. All are gossip rags and offer nothing much in terms of serious industry information. Skrip2Skrin hopes to fill that vacuum. It will touch upon issues, delve upon industry matters that local entertainment magazines deem fit to be left out. It will cover technology, personalities, career discussions, industry outlooks, current production statuses and many more. I hope to make Skrip2Skrin the de facto Malaysian film industry magazine, more so than Finas's Sinema Malaysia magazine, which has improved in content and design in the last few issues.
However, Skrip2Skrin will be an independent magazine - not the voice of any particular body.
Yes, Finas will have space in the magazine to promote and inform the public and the citizens of the film industry about its various projects, objectives and activities, but it does not control Skrip2Skrin's content. I do.
It will also be bi-lingual. No, that doesn't mean that each article in the magazine will be in English and Bahasa Malaysia. Articles in the magazine will be published in the language that the contributors submit in. Only certain articles that I feel needs to be published in both language will be 'translated' and published in English and Bahasa Malaysia. I hope that with this bi-lingual approach, the magazine will be read by Singaporeans, Thais, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans, Americans and Europeans, and finally they will now be kept abreast of what is happening in Malaysia.
Nevertheless, at the end of the day, publishing a magazine is still a big risk. I still have to survive on advertisements and not on circulation. I hope that my marketing team will be able to sell space for this 'niche' magazine. I hope Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and Canon will place ads in this magazines. I hope equipment suppliers, post production outfits, film production companies, cinema chain operators will also support the magazine. The people who read the magazine are their clients, their end users and their partners in the industry, and therefore I hope they see the benefits of advertising in this magazine.
Finally, I hope my peers, my friends and colleagues will support this magazine by buying it and or reading it, and spreading the word around that Skrip2Skrin is the first bonafide local film industry magazine. And for those who are itching to find a proper platform to meluahkan perasaan, to question authority or any parties may it be TV stations or government agencies, this is it. Do send in queries, articles, write ups, even production update reports to Skrip2Skrin. Email queries and submissions to

Monday, September 10, 2012


Below is the list of films scheduled for screening under the Finas wajib tayang window:

Salam Cinta from MIG bows in this week. Followed by horror flick (so what's new right?) entitled Hantu Air. Comedy is still the choice of new producers and RR Empire is will be releasing Halim Munan contesting a local Cantonese flick called Kepong Gangster for box office coins.

Astro Shaw who has been quiet this year, releases Untuk Tiga Hari, followed by another MIG release with a cute title "Aji Noh Motor" (another rempit themed comedy?). Untuk Tiga Hari may be the only movie that may be raking better numbers - directed by Afdling Shauki, the trailer looks impressive.

This is then followed by a KRU Release Hantu Kapcai. Would this film be the best performing movie from the KRU brand?
The year ends with a strangely titles movie Sofazr The Movie Jiwa Kacau, from Nusan Bakti Corp.

What happened to Tanda Putera, the multimillion Ringgit Tun Razak bio pic from Shuhaimi Baba? Are the rumours that it is back to the editing room true? Pesona Pictures have been very quiet about their flick which was actually screened to VIPs some time back already.

Uwei's Hanyut may take some time before reaching our screens. Knowing Uwei, he might want to take the film onto the international film festival circuits first before releasing it over here. Maybe he is worried that Hanyut might go the way of Bunohan, appreciated and respected overseas but ignored locally.

And where is KL Gangster 2? It is not ready yet even after a year in post? What is Syamsul doing with the movie which according to reliable sources have passed way over the RM3 million mark in terms of costs already expanded.

I wonder what's FINAS's take is on all these.

There is a lot of talk amongst the feature film producers' and directors' circles that FINAS is now a domain that belongs to documentary film makers. Those in the feature film industry are just bystanders and are treated as second class citizens.

Is there truth in this? The total money that FINAS has spent on documentaries has not been officially released yet, but monies or grants for feature films have not reached many producers and filmmakers. Only a selected few has received millions in grants for feature films. But if I were to base ringgit value against per minute of screen time, FINAS actually recognises documentaries as being more valuable.

Understandably, the KP is a documentary filmmaker (is and not was) because his works are still making the festival rounds and also his short films, and one cannot blame him for putting Malaysian documentaries on the international film map. If that is the legacy he wants to leave behind when his contract ends in FINAS, that why knock it? If he feels that documentaries are the better medium in which to introduce Malaysian filmmakers to the world, it in within his right to do so.

If you are a feature film maker like me, that's just too bad. We have to approach producers like David Teo and other who believe in his 'box office formulas' with titles like CEO Rempit, or Bini Bini Hantu Gangster or Kapchai King to move forward in our careers as filmmakers.

Wonder if there's any more free money left for the so-called Filem Negarawan announced by FINAS sometime back. Was Tanda Putera a benificiary of the grant? Was Hanyut the other beneficiary? Did KRU also receive grants for 29th Februari? It would be nice if FINAS be open about who has received grants or loans from them. At least we can track where the money has gone too - whether it has gone to films that breaks the box office or break their bank accounts.