Mat Kilau: are DAP leaders culturally dumb, desperate or both? – Kua Kia Soong

Mat Kilau: are DAP leaders culturally dumb, desperate or both? – Kua Kia Soong

One wonders if party hosting viewing sessions for latest Malaysian blockbuster an opportunistic attempt to ‘capture Malay votes’

DAP Youth chief Dr Kelvin Yii has justified his party colleagues hosting viewing sessions for the latest Malaysian blockbuster Mat Kilau by claiming that many DAP leaders have screened it for free in their constituencies because they want to promote and support local productions.

One wonders whether there were ever any discussions among the DAP leaders about the merits of the film or whether this gesture by DAP is an opportunistic attempt to “capture Malay votes”.

Malay patriots such as To’ Gajah and Mat Kilau who resisted the new tax and revenue laws introduced by British intervention near the end of the 19th century certainly deserve to be honoured as I wrote in my Class & Communalism in Malaysia (Zed Press 1983: 27).

Nonetheless, the nature of the anti-colonial struggle has shown that the contributions of the non-Malays, not only in the development of the country but also in the anti-colonial and anti-fascist wars from 1939 to 1957, were crucial to our nation’s independence.

Official history and the cultural presentation of our history must therefore reflect historical facts and thus be true and fair to all who have contributed so much to what we have attained today, regardless of their ethnicity.

The latest film production of Mat Kilau is not the first film to evoke controversy. In 2012, we had Tanda Putera and judging from the online interview given by the director of Tanda Putera, it was clear that this film had been produced to counter the impact of my 2007 title on May 13, based on historical records of the time.

Unfortunately for the director of Tanda Putera, her film has been unceremoniously put on hold from general release for political expediency. It seems her political masters could not afford to show this to the Chinese voters, or it could have been a disaster for the 13th general election.

Tanda Putera was subsequently shown to a select captive audience of Felda settlers who happened to be in Kuala Lumpur for an official function. While journalists were asked to leave, some through their professional persistence, managed to stay and watch the film.

Thus we can only go by their reviews of the film, viz. that the Chinese are portrayed as the aggressors in the aftermath of the 1969 general election; that the Chinese had gone to Malay kampung shouting arrogant and insensitive slogans; a scene of Chinese youth urinating on a flagpole at the menteri besar’s residence; Chinese youth vandalising campaign materials; a Chinese crowd shouting “Malays go and die”; a Chinese crowd disallowing two Malay youth on motorbikes to pass through, claiming that Selangor belongs to them; that the communists had a hand in orchestrating the mayhem; that foreign correspondents at the time fielded unreliable despatches… all blood racing stuff to arouse Malay supremacist emotions.

So, why didn’t DAP promote Tanda Putera, which was also a local production? At the time, I wrote several articles to debunk these flagrant liberties taken by the director and producer of the film. Yes, I defended DAP then against this outright cinematic bending of the truth.

Now we have another attempt in Mat Kilau, the film to raise the spirit of Malay nationalism, while the prime minister tries to convince us that we really are Keluarga Malaysia.

So far, we have had the Sikhs complaining that the portrayal of non-Malay Muslim characters as villains in the film is distasteful and problematic. They also say that the film portrays characters of other races and religions as insensitive and callous.

There is a “scheming Chinese” character who is killed violently at the end of the movie, while another character from Borneo is more than happy to be an assassin for the British. All these non-Muslims meet their “just desserts” in the film – all convenient portrayals of ethnic stereotypes to feed the fertile Malay supremacist minds.

Can you imagine the reaction from the Malay community if a non-Malay film maker had done the same to characters representing the Malay community?

For instance, has anybody made a film that covers collaborators of the British and Japanese during the Japanese occupation and the anti-colonial struggle based on historical facts and not liberally “spun” by the filmmaker?

“Malay nationalism” was an essential part of the anti-colonial struggle but it was not the only component of “Malayan nationalism”, in which the Chinese, Indians, Sarawakians and Sabahans all played a big part and sacrificed their lives in the anti-fascist and anti-colonial wars. Their sacrifices should not be trivialised in such cheap pandering to the mythmaking of “ketuanan Melayu”.

As defenders of the freedom of expression, we do not call for the banning of this latest film although we question the ban on many other cultural expressions by Malaysian authorities through the years.

For example, in 2015 the film The New Village by Wong Kew-Lit, a local award-winning filmmaker whose works have been broadcast on both terrestrial and satellite television networks, was banned by the Home Ministry even though it was passed by the Film Censorship Board on September 11, 2012.

In a written reply, the Home Ministry said the complaints and objections received regarding its content are said to show respect for the struggles of the Communist party against the cruelty of the British.

Before that, in 2006, Amir Muhammad’s documentary The Last Communist was banned from being shown in Malaysia by the Home Ministry but enjoyed several screenings in prestigious international film festivals in Berlin, Seattle, London, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

From my own detention under the Internal Security Act for editing The Root Causes of Racial Polarisation in 1987, I dare say any non-Malay who dares to make such a film to rouse ethnic chauvinism runs the risk of being detained without trial.

The prime minister who is so proud of his latest tag line Keluarga Malaysia, should tell the nation what he thinks of this latest pandering to Malay chauvinism in the film Mat Kilau and its treatment of non-Malay characters in the film.

DAP should also tell us what merits they see in this film and explain to us why they are promoting the film by screening it free to their constituents. I would be interested to know if they are promoting the film to their non-Malay constituents as well. If not, why not?

source – The Vibes

Share This


Wordpress (0)
Disqus (0 )