Source: Tanda Putera Facebook page

Foong Li Mei brings to you another edition of REFSA Rojak, a weekly take on the goings-on in Malaysia by Research for Social Advancement (REFSA).

REFSA Rojak – “trawl the newsflow, cut to the core and focus on the really pertinent. Full of flavour, lots of crunch, this is the concise snapshot to help Malaysians keep abreast of the issues of the day.”

Source: Tanda Putera Facebook page

Reel drama over May 13 film

The mark of the upcoming Tanda Putera movie seems to be an ugly stain on the Malaysian film industry. The film directed by Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba has flicked itself into the wrath of Malaysians for its skewed portrayal of the 1969 riots.

The director said her film was backed by historical facts and a lot of research into “documented materials and photographs” was done.

It appears doctoring of material also took place.

The film’s facebook page showed a photo of Lim Kit Siang being manhandled and a description asserting that the DAP stalwart had urinated on a flagpole at the then-Selangor Menteri Besar’s residence. The depiction is a “downright lie”, for Kit Siang was not even in peninsular Malaysia on May 13. He was en-route back from east Malaysia where he had been campaigning. (In those days, election campaign periods in east Malaysia were longer out of consideration for the vast geographic area to be covered and poor transport infrastructure. So campaigning was still going on in Sabah and Sarawak although the votes had been counted in peninsular Malaysia).

The photo, by the way, was taken not in 1969 but fifteen years later in 1984 – in Sabah! – when Kit Siang was denied entry into this Malaysian state and forcibly deported back to peninsular Malaysia.

The Center for Policy Initiatives (CPI) called Suhaimi’s initiative “celluloid demagogy”.  CPI called upon all Malaysians including the Prime Minister “to set the record straight” and provide correct historical data.

Shockingly, this skewed movie was sanctioned by the Barisan Nasional federal government. Taxpayer ringgit was used to support this film which looks set to be a commercial flop. At the time of writing, the Tanda Putera trailer on Youtube has attracted 4,585 thumbs-down, and a mere 497 ‘likes’. Tanda Putera looks set to go down as yet another mark of misdirected government spending.

Divergent paths to Independence Day celebrations

This year, our nation’s march towards Merdeka is strangely full of U-turns. After withdrawing the much ridiculed 55th Merdeka logo, Information, Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim now seeks public feedback on the equally scorned Merdeka song Janji Ditepati, the lyrics of which he wrote.

The Pakatan-led states had initially each came up with their own theme. However, the consensus now is that all will use Selangor’s Merdeka theme, Sebangsa, Senegara, Sejiwa.

Making U-turns is not as bad as cruising stubbornly on the track of mediocrity. In The Nut Graph, columnist Jacqueline Ann Surin commented that the Janji Ditepati theme is an indication of the mediocrity that BN promotes.

Public interest vs punishment

The cops may go all out to fight crime, but the long arm of the law would have a slippery grip on criminals if the judicial system is unjust. National Tenpin bowling ace Noor Afizal Azizan escaped jail sentence even after he admitted to committing statutory rape on a 13-year-old girl.

The Appeals Court allowed the bowler’s appeal and bound him over for good behaviour for five years on a bond of RM25,000. The reason for this verdict -public interest would not be served if Noor Afizal was sent to jail as he had a bright future, according to the Court of Appeal president, Tan Sri Raus Md Sharif.

This is akin to saying that public interest will not be served when a convicted rapist gets what he deserves. Even if he does win medals for Malaysia in the future, will the nation take pride in a sportsman who did not face the consequences of his crime?

‘Smashing’ support

What makes a hero? Perseverance, not victory; humility, not arrogance; attitude, not words.

On  5 August, Malaysians found their hero in Datuk Lee Chong Wei. Although he lost the Olympics gold to China’s Lin Dan in a seat-gripping men singles badminton final, Lee proved that you need not be the best to win hearts  – sometimes, it’s enough to just do your best. Malaysians of all backgrounds and races were united in rooting for his glory. After his defeat, the outpouring of support for Lee, who was touted as a national hero, flooded social media streams. His tweet right after his loss, a simple “I’m sorry”, tugged the hearts of Malaysians.

Datuk Lee Chong Wei has shown us what heroes are made of. No gold medal can rival the pride that he brings us, and Malaysia hopes to see more winners like him.

As if answering our wish, another sports heroine plunged her way deep into our hearts – Malaysian diver Pandelala Rinong bagged the bronze in the Olympics women’s 10m individual platform event! The lass from Sarawak splashed through our country’s diving history, emerging as our first Olympics medalist in a sport other than badminton. On top of that, she is also the first Malaysian woman to ever win an Olympics medal. Kudos, Pandelala!


Why ‘Rojak’? Disparate flavours and textures come together in a harmonious mix to make this delicious but underrated concoction. Our Rojak weekly is much like this mix, making sense of the noise of daily newsflow and politicking.

It is also our ultimate dream that our multi-ethnic melange of communities can be made richer within the unique ‘sauce’ that is Malaysia. Let’s take pride in the ‘rojakness’ of our nation!

Click here for previous issues of REFSA Rojak.
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