“Zan, I think all the politicians, members of parliament and ministers need to watch this film so that they remember why they were voted in in the first place,” Ambiga Sreenevasan said to me.
“I think so too. They are slowly losing touch with what they have promised the people,” I replied.
We were at the gala premiere of M For Malaysia, a documentary about how Dr Mahathir Mohamad (and Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali) went through the nine days of campaigning prior to the ninth May general election last year which saw BN losing after more than 60 years as the government.
Ineza Rossille (Mahathir’s granddaughter) directed the film with Dian Lee. Her mother Marina Mahathir served as its executive producer. I was also involved in the film as a scriptwriter, researcher and interviewer. So, you can take what I say however you want.
But I can’t deny the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed the final film when I watched it last week at the premiere. If you are thinking that this is a hardcore political film, then you are mistaken. It is firstly a film about a family man who loves his wife, children and grandchildren. Politics and the state of the country is only a backdrop.
To illustrate this, let me explain to you one scene from the movie that stuck in my mind. Mahathir was explaining how some people were advising him to beware of the people from Pakatan Harapan because all they wanted to do was to use him. Mahathir smiled and said very cheekily, “I have yet to meet anyone who can use me – except my grandchildren!”
Many people would say that the film might be a big whitewash of the oldest state leader in the world. The fact is that Ineza had already declared that she is not aligned with her grandfather’s politics, but she loves him dearly as a grandfather and, from early on, the film brings up the problems of Mahathir’s first tenure as prime minister.
But the intimacy that Ineza has with her grandfather is where the magic of the movie happens. We are brought into Mahathir and Siti Hasmah’s home. There are scenes of the family eating breakfast, getting ready to go out, chatting, showing concern and care for each other. These are scenes that would not be shown if it was anyone else making the film.
With all that being said, let me go back to the part where Ambiga and I felt that our current leaders need to watch this film to be reminded of why they were voted in in the first place. The film serves as a reminder of how the people fought over the course of many years to change an administration that they felt was corrupt, oppressive and abusive.
It clearly shows that so many Malaysians came together because they were all united with one objective in mind – to change Malaysia for the better and this was the time to do it. Even Pakatan politicians were in disbelief, which could be seen in the film where Ineza was at Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya with the top leaders as they received the results on voting day.
For these leaders, they need to stop thinking of only staying in power in the next general election. They need to remember again that they are as small as ants compared to the future of Malaysia. They must not let their positions now get into their heads.
These leaders need to stop playing the racial and religious cards that were so common under the previous administration. They need to stop seeing Malaysians as voters and instead, as fellow countrymen. So, they should make decisions for the betterment of the country that can move us forward, instead of decisions that will win the immediate election.
Aside from the current leaders, the Malaysian people should also watch this film to remind themselves that on May 9, 2018 they had voted for their future. So, they should expect that the leaders they voted for to work towards that future. If we start to see that these leaders are losing the main objective and plot, then we need to do something.
Watching this film made me feel the May 9 spirit. It reinvigorated the feeling in me that Malaysians can make a change even sooner than they expected they could. It made me realise once again that the people have the power to change a government, and if they feel that the people they chose isn’t doing a good job, they still have the power to remind them.
Happy Malaysia Day to all Malaysians! Remember, this is our country and our country is bigger than any politician or political party. M For Malaysia is playing in all the major cinemas around the country from Sept 12 to the 18.
Watch The Fat Bidin Film Club’s review of ‘M For Malaysia’:
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