Wednesday, July 9, 2014


By Mansor Puteh

I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I caught sight of the editorial in an English language daily recently. And after reading it, I want to think that it smacks of self-guilt and self-blame by them and to be fair, hoping that this would mark a new beginning in the attitude of its reporters and editors.  

What I find to be the most pathetic is how the paper and the other newspapers too can and must be blamed for the malaise on everything that the editorial claims to empathize by even going on their own madness by suggesting that by establishing a Hall of Fame things can be put right.

The first thing that ought to be put right is how the entertainment section of the paper itself which was vibrant especially when they had hardworking editors who knew the industry, but it fell to grace after they left, with the section almost gone.

No wonder the paper is not a favorite newspaper for many in the film industry and the arts and whose credibility is very low.

The commentaries on the film and arts activities in the city (I hate to say country) are made only by their full-time writers, who are not qualified to talk about them, so no wonder what they say do not add up to much or anything at all.

No wonder their regular writers and analysts have never been known to have got any recognition from the industry.

The film associations in Malaysia have never given due recognition to the paper for being in the fore-front of the development of the arts till now because they did not deserve it.

The newspaper has a bad attitude which is that ‘they need us, we do not need them!’ and they want to compete with the industry insiders who go places and do things, while those who are with paper are stuck where they are, waiting for the untimely death of someone in the arts for them to write on and feel sorry for.  

And the newspaper like the others including the Mandarin and Tamil ones would go out of their way to report on the death of some of the more prominent figures in the film and music industry.

Other news is not news, including the first Malaysian film to get a nomination for best film in a film festival in Europe in 1990. Which film?

And Malaysian filmmakers have received recognition in other international film festivals but they are hardly mentioned in the paper.

What does the paper want? To see the filmmaker winning the Oscar before he is considered to be good enough to be written about? Maybe not! He has to win not just one Oscar but a few, and only after the rest of the world has written and reported about him.

The paper’s editorial falls short by not looking at the real culprit.

Malaysia has immense artistic talent some of whom are first-class and who can go very, very far.

But what we do not have are officials in the respective ministries and agencies including the media, who are not at par with them in journalism.

As a former journalist and a member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) myself, I have seen how Malaysian journalism generally has regressed to become a tool of western propaganda.

The news organization had also not bothered to send their own reporters to study film and the arts, not that they could not afford it.

But the reason being that the editors do not have impressive academic backgrounds or professional experience to be able to bear with their presence should they return from their studies abroad.

No wonder the entertainment media is dominated by unqualified people in film and the arts who mostly write about the activities in the industry from their point of view as a general essayist.

In the end they are not able to see the stars for what they are until they die one by one when they start to feel sorry for them.   

The paper must start to blame the relevant ministries for failing to create wonderful artworks in all fields, especially film, which is the center of the artistic activities in the country.

The then ministry of information, arts and culture (Kementerian Penerangan, Kesenian dan Kebudayaan - KPKK) created the Dasar Industri Kreatif Negara (DIKN) which they launched with a lot of fanfare costing hundreds of thousands of ringgit at MATIC, yet, not long afterwards, it was scrapped.

The DIKN had given scores of millions of ringgit to producers of many forms of the art, especially films; yet, those who had received them had not been known to have done much to prove that they deserved to be given the grants, for which they did not have to pay a single sen.

Yet, no proper accounting has been conducted by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to determine who had caused this to happen.

Some producers were given loans to produce their films, but the agreements say that they have to finance their films and the bank would reimburse what they had spent on the production of their film. How come no one has bothered to check this out to see if this is true or not?

This is definitely the strangest way for the ministry to offer loans to film producers to produce their films in the world. Did the paper know about this? Now that they do, but do they care?

DIKN was a wonderful tool and mechanism created by the government to create and encourage the growth of the entertainment industry, but it failed because the ministries did not have the best people to manage it.

This matter had not come to the personal attention of the entertainment reporters and editors at the paper because they did not have personal contacts and relationship with insiders, who could give them the right leads.

The problem with the editors at the paper is that they are smug; they like to think too highly of themselves.

Now, they are blaming the industry for failing to create stars which also make them look bad, because stars in the entertainment industry are everywhere, but they are not recorded by the paper and the other newspapers, with the Mandarin and Tamil ones looking at Hong Kong and India most of the time, with the English language ones looking at Hollywood.

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