No compromise on national language, says Yusof Haslam


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian films must be based on the national language and there will be no compromising on that matter, Malaysian Film Producers Association (PFM) President Yusof Haslam said.

“This is according to national policy. Malay films must be based on the national language. We will not compromise on this matter,” he said to reporters after a dialogue session “#tanyafinas 2.0” ended.

A row over language segregation blew up last week after the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) disqualified Ola Bola and Jagat from the Best Film category in the Malaysian Film Festival (FFM) as the two movies were deemed to have failed to meet a “70% of dialogue” in Bahasa Malaysia (BM) requirement.

The two films which had received sufficient nominations to be listed under the Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Director awards, were instead placed in the non-BM language categories for these main awards.

Yusof threw the issue to the government on the issue of “national identity” and “national language”, saying if the “higher ups” agreed to be open over the matter, then nominated films would not be segregated based on language.

“So, are we willing to gamble with our national identity? I’m not willing to gamble with our national identity, but I don’t know if the next generation is willing to gamble with our national identity, or even sell off our dignity.

“I’m not saying it because I’m Malay, but I’m saying it because I live in a country where the national language is Bahasa Melayu, I must respect that,” Yusof said.

He reminded the press that we shouldn’t gamble away our national identity merely to satisfy a few disgruntled people.

“It’s not because we are racists. We must respect our national identity.”

At the same time, Yusof said he would not be involved in organising any future Malaysian Film Festival (FFM), citing conflict of interest due to his and his son’s involvement in film-making.

He was responding to a heated debate between participants of the forum, where many had accused him of having a conflict of interest.

Skop Productions, which is owned by Yusof, produced “Munafik” and “Mat Moto”, which were listed in the final nominations for the Best Film category.

“Let the younger generation take over. I don’t want the public to accuse me of having a conflict of interest.

“I don’t want to hold important positions because my son and I are still involved in the film industry. Even my son’s mother has said she doesn’t feel right about it.

“But I will be active in the association as a committee member because I’m still needed to observe the industry,” Yusof said.

Over the weekend, Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak gave his word that he would look into the matter, while Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan had also voiced his disagreement, pointing out that the language segregation issue was “killing the industry.”

The awards show will be held on Sept 3, where the the winners will be announced.