I was not in high spirits of being Malaysian and I am sure many Malaysians who were at the Freedom Film Fest 2012 with me agreed to this sentiment when three short films produced by three talented Malaysians were screened last Sunday in Singapore.
I told myself that day, “I am not proud to be Malaysian”.
The three winning films chosen to be shown in the festival, which was co-sponsored by Pusat KOMAS, were Tricia Yeoh’s “Rights of The Dead”, Boon Kia Meng’s “Utopia Milik Siapa” and “Silent Riot” by Nadira Illana.
All films touched on the human rights issues in Malaysia and their implications on Malaysians.
All of them which explored the ugly parts of socio-economic and political impact on Malaysians at large. These filmakers earned the admiration of locals in Malaysia and made their wave through Singapore.
It was estimated that some 300 over Singaporeans and foreigners took part in the 1-day event which was held at The Substation, Singapore.
Both Boon Kia Mang and Tricia Yeoh, made a special appearance at end of the show and took turns to answer questions of various perspective from the audiences.
The curious Singaporean audience
Singaporeans have different ways of interpreting the films and most of the questions thrown at Yeah were about Malaysia and her political scenario rather than the mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock.
Many Singaporeans probably would have heard and followed the peculiar case which was one of the longest on-going court cases in the history of Malaysia.
Many Singaporeans who were there to see Yeoh’s work shed tears and emotions was seen to be running high.
The empathy that Singaporeans had for the family of Teoh Beng Hock was remarkable.
Kudos to Yeoh on her work as a director for the first time succeeded well in capturing vividly the agony and pain that the family of the deceased went through and the mockery of Malaysian laws by Malaysian lawmakers.
Money and riots matter
Boon’s “Uthopia milik Siapa” centred the story of a young graduate who earns a decent living of RM 3500 per month. The main focus of the film is about owning a house in Malaysia with that kind of income.
Even thought the subjects focused by Boon pretty heavy as involves foreign investment, government policy, banking and financial practice and ethics, Boon manage to capture the attention for the viewers by telling the story in a intriguing way.
A 25-year-old Sabahan, Nadira Illana presented a forgotten crisis which took place in 1986.
Not many Malaysians who have heard of this riot where plastic bombs and illegal immigrants were used for political millage of a certain quarters in Sabah politics.
The riots occurred in response to the results of the 1985 state election, whereby the newly formed Parti Bersatu Sabah (United Sabah Party) won, ousting Parti Berjaya from the helm of government.
It was reported that mobs took to the streets to bring down the president of PBS Pairin Kitingan from the chief minister’s post.
It was also suspected that the riots were triggered by the losing parties including BN to bring forth a proclamation of emergency in order to justify a takeover by the federal government.
I was touched when narrator narrated that, “It was not about power struggle between two individuals or parties but what actually happen was the government decided to punish the people who made a different choice. The different choice was vote for opposition.”
You do not get to see much of this kind of events in Singapore.
Freedom Film Festival is the only human rights event taking place on the island.