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LETTER | Film and music advisory council may be another suppressive body

LETTER | The Communications and Multimedia Ministry had on Sept 17 announced the formation of the Malaysian Film and Music Advisory Council amid the surge in popularity of local productions such as ‘Mat Kilau’ which hit a record-level box office of almost RM100 million.

According to Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa, the council is formed to gather experts from the industry to advise the government on matters and issues related to local film and music production.

To be honest, this is actually a great initiative as the current governing bodies of local film and music production, namely the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) and the Malaysian Music Industry Corporation (PIMM), clearly lack in-field expertise that could drive the development of the industries forward. They are both government agencies formed by political appointees who represent the government’s agenda and interests.

However, when I saw Annuar appointing Malacca state assembly deputy speaker Khaidhirah Abu Zahar (above) as the chairperson of the council, I treat with reservations about the outcome that the council can deliver on the development of the local film and music industry.

I am aware that Khaidhirah was an artiste before she stepped into politics and eventually won a state legislative assembly seat in the state election last year. I appreciate Annuar’s initiative of recruiting a former artiste to be the chairperson of the council as her experience in the field could be a good addition to its operation.

But this is also where the problem lies, too. As stated above, existing governing bodies of the local film and music industry (Finas and PIMM) are representing the government’s agenda and interest via political appointees. Though Khaidhirah was an artiste, she is now the deputy speaker of the Malacca state assembly, which makes her a politician from the ruling party.

There are many overlapping aspects between the Malaysian Film and Music Advisory Council and Finas and PIMM, but what distinguishes them is that the former represents the grassroots community of film and music producers, which can act as a check-and-balance on the latter to secure a free and safe environment for the development of the art forms.

Given this condition, the council should be fully independent of any politicians and should be chaired by the film and music producers themselves. Although Khaidhirah was an artiste, it is hard for her to not bring any government’s agenda and interest into the council, which may make the council become another politicised tool to suppress the free production of films and music.

If Annuar and the Communications and Multimedia Ministry really wish to boost the local film and music industry with the success of Mat Kilau, then they should reconsider the lineup of the Malaysian Film and Music Advisory Council. It should be an independent body that is free from any political interference.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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