A days-old petition calling for the heads of National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) to be dismissed has gained over 3,000 signatures at the time of writing.
The change.org petition was launched on Friday (February 5) by an anonymous group of Malaysian creative and film industry players who call themselves Art Revolt. It demands the country’s Ministry of Communications and Multimedia remove Finas CEO Ahmad Idham bin Ahmad Nadzri and Chairman Zakaria Abdul Hamid from the government agency.
Zakaria is a relative newcomer to Finas, having only served the association as its chairman since May 2020. Ahmad, meanwhile, was appointed CEO of Finas from March 2019 to March 2020, and once again in June 2020.
The petition has so far gained 3,379 signatures of its 5,000 target. NME has reached out to Finas and the Ministry for comment.
“In the pandemic situation plaguing Malaysia today, we, the Malaysian creative and film industry players, feel marginalised by the Chairman and CEO of Finas who should be thinking of ways to help us to continue working in helping our economy as well as the country,” the group wrote in the petition’s preface.
“We feel more depressed when the Chairman and CEO of Finas made statements indicating that we are not contributing to the country’s economy on their social media posts which only displayed their shallow thoughts that they do not deserve to hold important positions.”
It is unclear to which social media posts Art Revolt are referring.
The cities of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, as well as five states, have been on lockdown since January 13 following a spike in Covid-19 cases in the country. Filming activities are considered a non-essential service and have been barred since the lockdown – part of the Malaysian government’s movement control order (MCO) – began.
On February 2, Finas chairman Zakaria expressed hope that the National Security Council (NSC), which oversees the lockdown, would consider allowing filming activities to resume as the MCO had affected the incomes of those in the industry.
However, stakeholders such as the Film Directors Association of Malaysia (FDAM) claim that Finas has been slow to provide the NSC with proposed standard operating procedures (SOPs) to allow production to resume, as Harian Metro reports.
The Malaysian Film Producers Association (PFM) appealed to the government on February 5 to allow filming activities to resume, with president Pansha Nalliah noting the huge losses that production companies have incurred due to the MCO.
“They have to bear the rising monthly cost of operation and production and then cancelling filming activities,” Pansha said, per national news agency Bernama. “In fact, freelancers such as directors, actors, behind-the-scene[s] workers and others, have been struggling to get on with their daily lives.”
Yesterday, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said new SOPs to allow arts activities, such as live events and filming both in and outside studios, would be submitted to the NSC today (February 8).
According to Bernama, Saifuddin said the proposed SOPs, which were stricter than previous ones, were expected to get immediate approval so as to help those facing ‘no job, no salary’ situations.
“We understand that 80 per cent of crew members involved in drama or film productions are paid on a daily basis. Their pay becomes limited if they are only allowed to work during studio filming when most of the scenes should be shot outside,” he said.
Besides the removal of the Finas heads, the petition also calls for “the establishment of a Union in defending and building the future ecosystem that will be the catalyst for [the] Malaysian creative and film industry”.
In an update on the petition posted February 6, Art Revolt also said that their goal was not only to “uphold justice for what the Chairman and CEO of Finas did” but also “to bring about… an ecosystem change in the Malaysian creative and film industry”.
Malaysian writer and filmmaker Muzzamer Rahman, also known as Muz Amer, was among those who publicly showed support for the petition.
“If it was last year, we would understand that this industry was essential. BUT NOT TODAY!” he wrote on Facebook.
“Today, we creative and behind-the-scenes workers consider our work to be essential. Our job is probably the most essential out of all that is considered essential.”
Setelah hampir setahun kita hidup dalam pandemik, dan kali kedua PKP, pekerja industri kreatif & belakang tabir masih…
Malaysian actor Iedil Dzuhrie Alaudin also shared a poster of the petition on social media, saying, “Silence is not an option.”
Singaporean actor Adi Putra, who is a prominent personality in Malaysia, also shared an article about the petition.