‘Upin & Ipin’ producer: Vote for new government if you don’t like Bahasa Malaysia film policy

Burhanuddin Md Radzi (left) with Nancie Foo (centre) during a dialogue session 'Ask Finas 2.0' in Kuala Lumpur, August 8, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Burhanuddin Md Radzi (left) with Nancie Foo (centre) during a dialogue session 'Ask Finas 2.0' in Kuala Lumpur, August 8, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — Malaysians who disagree with the national policy to uphold Bahasa Malaysia through the cinematic arts can effect a change by voting in a new regime at the next general elections, a leading animation maker has said.

Burhanuddin Md Radzi, managing director of Les’ Copaque Production behind the wildly popular animated series Upin & Ipin, is among the latest to rally to the side of the Bahasa Malaysia proponents in the ongoing controversy raging over the language segregation policy that has hit this year’s Malaysia Film Festival Awards (FFM).

The vocal producer defended the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) which has come under fire for preserving the Bahasa Malaysia film policy, telling critics the agency was only carrying out its duties.

“Finas follows the National Creative Industry Policy. As long as that policy doesn’t change, we must uphold the national language, and it will remain that way,” he told a film forum here last Monday night.

“It is up to the government in power now. If you don’t like the government, vote it out. Then you can do what you like.

“But now, as members of the Finas board of directors, we carry out our duties according to the policy,” he added.

The Upin Ipin Jeng, Jeng, Jeng! producer alleged that today’s youths have forgotten the role of Bahasa Malaysia as a racial unifier in the country in disparaging the national language amid the latest FFM controversy.

“The generation today tend to consider Bahasa Malaysia works as rubbish that can’t be sold.

“But they forget, they make these works to find profit from screening in Malaysia. Those who watch, are the kampung folk.

“Films made in English don’t go far. Upin Ipin speak in Malay, and it has travelled the world. I have proven it,” Burhanuddin said.

The 28th FFM that is set to take place from September 1 to 3, has been mired in controversy following the segregation of local films into Bahasa Malaysia and non-Bahasa Malaysia categories.

The forum held at Platinum Sentral on Monday night was attended by Finas director-general Datuk Kamil Othman, Malaysia Film Producers Association (PFM) president Datuk Yusof Haslam, and artists.

Another film industry professional who supported the Bahasa Malaysia national policy was drama director Ellie Suriaty Omar who said the FFM should not be criticised for the language segregation but non-Malay filmmakers should show their appreciation instead.

The actress pointed out that her 2001 film Spinning Gasing also failed to be nominated for the 16th FFM because it was in English, but maintained that she continued to support the local film awards and industry players.

She also said that she would not boycott this year’s FFM, which is scheduled to be held next month culminating in a glitzy awards show on September 3.

“What is the point of being a creative person if we blame Finas, PFM and individuals upholding Bahasa Malaysia?” she asked, rhetorically.

Ellie said criticisms against the Bahasa Malaysia policy raised questions reflected on the critics and asked if they were trying to turn the film industry into a battlefield to bring down national institutions.

“If you get what you want and if the government gives in to these demands, then you bring down the whole Malaysian industry.

“Is that the purpose of this subversive element? Attack the film industry first? We must remember that Bahasa Malaysia is used in court, schools, government agencies and exams.

“So do you want to start here, and then topple everything? Is that what this means? Don’t politicise the industry,” she added.