Thursday, May 2, 2019


By Mansor bin Puteh

When Tunku Abdul Rahman maneuver the country and wrest Independence or ‘Merdeka’; for the country that was officially proclaimed on 31 August, 1957, he by choice preferred not be driven in limousines that were made in Britain such as Bentley, Austin or Rolls-Royce.

On the other hand, the government purchased American-made limousines called Chevrolets that had never been seen on the roads throughout the country that had only been trampled upon by vehicles that were all made in England, especially those that were also used by the Armed Forces and Police.

It was fortunate that Tunku and the Malayan government had not chosen to change the driving direction in the country from driving on the left to the right like what they did in America and some other countries.

However, his counterparts in Burma then, who too had managed to wrest indepedence for his country from our common colonial governments, had decided to do just that so that even now in Myanmar as the country is called these days, are doing which is to drive on the right side of the road.

And Myanmar is the only former British colony in the Asean region that follows the American driving system.

And when it came to the time when Tunku wanted to introduce television to the country, he deliberately did not choose to go to the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) in London to get advise from their experts; on the contrary, he flew all the way to Canada to get some Canadian at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBS) to help establish the country’s first television station.

Thus Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) first office and studios were established in Jalan Ampang and beside Matic the Malaysian Tourism Center and former National Art Gallery before Angkasapuri was built.

It is as fact that not many in Malaysia today knows.

However, for television programs, most of them were sourced from Britain and not Canada or America.

Tunku had gone to Canada with a retinue of senior officers and then proceeded to go to America where he was given an official welcome by President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Lady Byird Johnson at the White House who would later returned the gesture and made his first official visit to Malaysia.

RTM at Angkasapuri had grown to become the most premier and only national television station in the country which produced all the local programs that were first shown on one channel before another one was introduced.

And with the advent of private television stations, first being TV3 and later some others before finally, the satellite television network called Astro, RTM still managed to hold their special place on the audiences comprising of the various races in the country by offering them programs and shows in many genres to entertain and inform them.

But RTM was and still forms just an agency in the ministry of information of Malaysia which now has eleven others.

And in due course, with the addition of these agencies, the ministry now has a work force of 8356 officers and personnel and in 2017, it had an allocation from the federal government to the tune of RM1.62 billion.

This amount is so large and the total expenditures of the ministry and its agencies since Merdeka in 1957 could very well be in the scores of billion of ringgit!

Tunku was the smartest prime minister who personally went to Canada to seek expert advise to help establish the first Malaysian television which was finally launched on 28 December, 1963.

Unfortunately, his successors were not smart when they wanted to form Finas without ever seeking expert advise from foreign experts so that in time we would be able to have a vibrant film industry which is income-generating and not remain an agency in the ministry that is parasite and in need of annual funding in perpetuity.

Last First April, 2019 marks the seventy-third anniversary of RTM but what is there for this agency and the ministry it is under be proud of?

With so much money that had been spent on RTM and the bloated workforce and the other agencies in the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM), it has not shown any results.

Something drastic ought to be done to RTM and Finas especially, if the government is serious in developing them so they could be more useful to the overall development of the country not only on the social, psychological and economic levels but also economic as well…

Someone must be engaged to do a thorough research on how to develop the film industry so that in time it could evolve into a cinema development activity; and in the process to allow the industry to be income-generating and more so, independent from the clutches of the ministry.

If the Old Malayan Cinema then based in Singapore centering around two major studios established by just three Chinese businessmen who had come from Shanghai, then surely the New Malaysian Cinema too can be developed even more with massive government backing.

And if Hollywood too could be established by four persons, then surely, there is a lot of things that the Malaysian government can learn from their experience; just like Broadway which is in no way connected to any government ministry in America, that had existed as long as any could remember as a purely business venture till today, and showing no signs of premature aging.

Finas, on the other hand benefits from the one-way funding by the government and full support of the relevant ministry, and is in its thirty-eighth year, yet, it is showing signs of aging.

Last, but not the least, CNN, was formed by just one American entrepreneur based in Atlanta, Georga in America, to become in a relatively short period of time the most powerful and influential international news television station in the world that we have today, unmatched by those stations that were established later to compete with it.

Yet, RTM is now seventy-seven years or forty-years since Malaysian television was first introduced on 28 December, 1963 and it is nowhere compared to CNN.

It is also too bad that the government did not engage anyone in Hollywood to conduct an extensive research before they could draft the first Finas Act of 1981 that had caused the industry to not grow and be stunted the day it was formed; worse, it had been turned into the travel agency for some of the senior officials of Finas to travel around the world attending film festivals, conferences and seminars where they did not belong and where they could not bring back ideas on how to develop the film industry.

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