KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 — A second official has resigned from the Film Directors' Association of Malaysia (FDAM) after the association insisted on only having Bahasa Malaysia films contesting national-level awards at the 28th Malaysia Film Festival (FFM).
Filmmaker Jeffrey Chiang, who sat on the FDAM 2014-2016 executive committee (exco) as special project bureau head, said he submitted his resignation letter earlier this afternoon.
"I have been with the AJK for the past two years, I call them my friends but I do not agree with current actions over the last few days,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted today, using the Malay acronym for exco.
"If I did stay, it would reflect badly on me simply because I'm associated with FDAM, despite me not agreeing with their position, so there was very little choice left but for me to resign.”
Chiang was the second to resign from FDAM in relation to the FFM controversy, with FDAM assistant general secretary Hafiz Ibrahim resigning earlier on Monday evening.
The FDAM had on Monday issued a statement saying that the national language is the Malay language and that national-level awards at the 28th FFM this year should only be open to Malay-language films.
Yesterday, the FDAM issued another statement reiterating its view and announcing that it was disassociating itself from the FFM28 over the alleged insult to the Federal Constitution through the recognition of works that are not in the national language for national-level awards.
Chiang told Malay Mail Online that he was not consulted on both statements and that he was unaware of them until they were made public.
Following the Monday statement by FDAM, Chiang said he wanted to stay neutral and wait for the outcome of the Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak's actions.
Ultimately, Chiang decided last night to quit FDAM's exco over the association's "overbearing and over heavy-handed" response in the face of the "wonderful" solution by the minister.
On Wednesday, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry decided to open up FFM’s Best Picture category — previously restricted to films with 70 per cent Bahasa Malaysia content — to all films. It also created the Best Film in National Language category.
Disagreeing with FDAM's desire to retain the "segregation policy" by having FFM award categories split according to language, Chiang said there was "really no real need for a non-Malay language category to begin with".
Chiang, who was nominated for Most Promising Director in 2011’s FFM24 for the Malay feature film Dilarang Masuk, saw his animated film Seefood nominated at 2013’s FFM25 for the Best Picture in non-Bahasa Malaysia category and also for the Best Screenplay category — despite not having a Malay-language script.
"The language was not an issue, it was about creative effort. It should be language of film, language of creativity, not language that sets us apart," he said.
FFM organiser National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) said yesterday it was abolishing all three non-Bahasa Malaysia categories at the 28th FFM, with films previously in these categories automatically placed in the main award categories of Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Director.
The ministry and Finas’ announcement this week came after public outrage over the recent nominations of two critically acclaimed movies — Ola Bola and Jagat — for Best Picture (non-Bahasa Malaysia) at the 28th FFM this year, instead of the main Best Picture category.