Mat Kilau

I get why some people would get upset with the representation of some roles in the movie. Despite the villains are referred as ‘the british’ – the distinct ethnic appearance makes this doesnt sit well with some movie goers. Walaupun etnik tu kita anggap sbhgn daripada British. Ntahlah, kalau aku pun akan ada rasa sikit tak best.

So, since this is a fiction story as claimed by the producer/director – maknanya boleh diolah kan dari sejarah sebenar, might as well make all the askar omputih kot. Or from undefined ethnicity. I dunno. Maybe. Sbb Msia multiracial kan. It can be very painful to look at a piece of history (although true) through the current lense that we have in our country. Yang berbilang bangsa dan agama.

– source ; my own facebook

When Mat Kilau was first released, the first group of people who criticised the movie was historians and academicians. They deemed the version by Shamsul Yusof inaccurate to which he and very loyal fans rebutted the claim and said that it was a work of fiction. That the movie was inspired by the story of Mat Kilau. That it is not Mat Kilau’s biography.

Ok. Fair enough.

The movie continued to collect millions of RM and of course attracted more Malaysians to watch it and when we say Malaysians, that means those from various ethnicities. Later, issues with racism arise. While I do not think this is a racist movie, I do feel that the portrayal of villains could be better. As I said, it is painful to watch certain historical events unfold with the multicultural lens that we have now.

The movie kind of stirred an unsettling feeling among our friends who wear a turban. I get it. but Shamsul Yusof said that replacing the troops with those from a different ethnicity would alter history. The problem is you said that it was a work of fiction in the first place. Yang mana satu NIH? Imagine if someone from a non-Malay ethnicity decided to make a movie to ‘increase the self-esteem’ of their own race and depicted Malays as lazy – can you imagine the uproar caused by that? And it’s just a lazy trait which is true for almost every race, only in the movie it happened to be a Malay person. While it is not conflicting with the country’s guideline of ‘bannable’ movies, I am sure that ‘fact’ would not sit well with Malay movie-goers.

And now Mat Kilau is doing the same for our Sikh friends – our gentle warriors. Our friends who prepared vegetarian food to flood victims some time ago. Ingat? An ethnic group in our country who almost always minds their own business and hardly gaduh2 manja with the Malays.

Creating a historical movie in Malaysia is undeniably tricky. Especially when you want to put forward Mat Kilau, whose fight for justice happened before the times when there were things like hak keistimewaan orang Melayu and kontrak sosial. Perhaps this is where the movie producers need to be more creative or our citizens need to be more open to the idea. Tapi to be more open requires tolerance between ethnicities and to be tolerant requires a level of understanding that ‘this is what happened before. it was horrible but it was in the past.

The understanding must come from a standard formula. Anything standard must come from a certain body of authority. So, what is left? Schools. We do not have PLKN. Not everybody goes to BTN.

But our schools are not united. The children of different ethnicities do not mingle with each other unless they go to international schools, private schools or sekolah wawasan. Not many are interested to send their kids to Sekolah Kebangsaan anymore. Because some parents of different ethnicities, they want to maintain their identity and that could only be achieved at sekolah jenis. Understandable but with long-term consequences.

I cannot really predict how this Mat Kilau issue will unfold but I hope it will come to a favourable conclusion. A statement that will allay everybody’s anxiety.

Jangan kita buat orang atas nama seni boleh, tapi bila orang buat kita for the same reason, kita bising.

3R : Read, Reflect, Respond

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