1957: Hati Malaya as an Example of Patriotism in Malaysian Filmmaking Industry
The path to achieve independence for our country has been such a painful journey for the people who work for it. While we celebrate 62 years of independence as a sovereign nation on August 31, some important elements of that struggle for freedom in the 1950s may be useful to be remembered.
Malaysia has been a relatively successful country in terms of filmmaking production for more than half a century. Nevertheless, when it comes to portraying historical events or figures, it is sadly underwhelming that this country’s efforts to produce films did not meet the expectation. According to Pragalath (2013), from a total of 933 since 1948, there have been only 14 locally produced history-based movies. Given the long history that can be recited about this state, before and after its independence, this dreadful number is alarming. Independence has always been a favorite topic for scholars and academics in Malaysia or any history lover.
While films play a greater role in instilling patriotism and nationalism among the people in addition to entertaining the public, through filmmaking, we can celebrate patriotism and nationalism that will not only travel across the country but also beyond our shores. We will not waste our time on categorizing which of Malaysian films is national or non-national, but we will accept the value of nationalism in the movie itself as it is about being patriotic and nationalist.
Some of the films produced are so influential in society, especially young people that they seem to live in a fantasy world without even stepping into the realm of reality. The story of rich and poor romance, young couple’s domestic conflicts, endless love stories and a variety of modern-day romances that meet the needs of the audience are no longer relevant. This is the film genre that every producer should produce in order to raise people’s awareness about Independence Day and also to build Malaysian identity because film and theater are so close to young people. The country has wait for a long time for filmmaking like this being produced by artists of the homeland. Our movies are increasingly lacking in morals and values. However, there are some movies and shows today that cater only to the requirements of a normal life, regardless of what society needs.
What did you learn about our country from the movie?
In the film 1957: Hati Malaya, this particular era of history is interpreted by the famous film director, Shuhaimi Baba. Being the receiver of many film-making awards, Shuhaimi is to be applauded for her willingness to take the challenge of producing a historical film about the most crucial moment in history. From this movie, the storyline, as well as the detail of the process of Malaysia Independence, has increased my knowledge about Malaysia’s history. The movie ultimately tells the audiences of the hardships to achieve freedom. There were movers and shakers in the political world before independence who were responsible for bringing the struggle into being. Dato Onn bin Jaafar and Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj were these prominent people. Both were prominent figures at the forefront of the independence struggles of the Malays. The challenge faced by both of them in order to achieve independence was difficult because they always had to make a good decision to save Malaya.
Independence of Malaya was the outcome of the genius of Dato’ Onn and Tunku who had personified Malay aspirations for political freedom since the 1920s (Soh, 2010). Achieving independence as possible from the combined efforts of many prominent figures in history. 1957: Hati Malaya was based on the struggles faced by Malaya to achieve Independence. The emphasis is magnified towards the Malays because this particular ethnic group is primarily featured in the film. The historic moment when Malayan Union was established was also the critical moment when Malays realized their rights were being violated, this was the conflict, the beginnings of all.
The whole movie was about the journey of Malaya to achieve Independence in the 1950s. As examples, about Malayan Union. The purpose of the Malayan Union is to give equal rights to people who apply for citizenship. People who are born in any state in British Malaya or Singapore and only for people whose father were citizens of the Malayan Union who are born outside British Malaya 15 February 1942 were allowed to apply. The Sultans are the traditional rulers of the Malaya States who had powers only on the religious matter and the rest are given to the British Crown to decide. This British expectation turned the Malay population grown in one strong group to protest the new scheme. Due to this, the Malays formed the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) in 1946. It was led by Datuk Onn Jaafar, the Chief Minister of Johor, who remarked him as the first president for UMNO. These are some of the knowledge that I have learned from this movie.
1957: Hati Malaya also evokes the spirit of patriotism in myself. Patriotism is described as one’s country’s love and devotion. The broad agreement on the concept of patriotism is a deeply felt affective relation to the state. Therefore, patriotism is also delineated as one nation’s degree of love and pride (Ku Hasnita & Mohd Haizam, 2011). Often colored with different concepts and definitions was the choice of words that characterized patriotism. Scholars equate patriotism with “love of the state”, “loyalty”, “pride of achievement of the country”, “attachment to the land”, “sharing”, “identity”, “sense of belonging” and “nationhood” which symbolize the country and its people. Whether the discussion and analysis on patriotism discourse are theoretical or concrete, patriotism is seen from the political standpoint, viewpoint of citizens ‘ views, principles, attitudes, and actions towards achieving certain objectives and the country’s success, achievements, and justice (Davidov, 2011; Negedu & Atabor, 2015).
This movie also is a useful lesson for me, the present generation as well as the next generation. 1957: Hati Malaya makes me learned the sacrifices of the politicians in the struggle to achieve freedom from British colonialism. Tun Onn Jaafar was one of the politicians who fight for freedom from the British, the party that formed the Malayan Union. British was risking the privileges of the Malays as well as turned down the Malay rulers’ power at that time. Tun Onn Jaafar fought to persuade the Malay rulers to refuse the agreement that has been made by the Malayan Union. They had been threatened by the British to sign the treaty. Tun Onn Jaafar’s intensity and the people who were willing to gather to show the love of the country determination have convinced the kings to refused on signing the treaty.
1957: Hati Malaya is an effort to realize stronger and more solidarity of unity, employees, and artists should take the initiative to promote more films that build the nation’s spirit and the spirit of patriotism within each audience. A work capable of creating phenomena in maintaining the spirit of patriotic. The work produced should have the value of educating the public about where they should be, rather than fulfilling their full potential and immersing them in the life of their creation. It is also recommended that every student leadership of the institution of higher education be public or private, organizing activities that promote the spirit of patriotism within every citizen of the institution.
How do you think media can assist with patriotism?
Patriotism is the feeling of loving your country more than anything and being proud of it (Cambridge Dictionary, n.d). An individual need to feel love towards their country in order to be a patriotic person. Love and respect towards the country are important as it will make a person appreciate the country more.
Media is referred to as the devices or networks used to store and supply information or data. According to Techopedia (n.d), the media’s plural form is news and it reflects any communication channel. It also involves sending an ad text as a delivery system to the target audience. Media can be included as anything from printed paper and digital data, including art, music, educational content, and many other forms of information.
Most media types can be divided into three categories, for example, print media that covers all publications, including newspapers and magazines; radio and television broadcast media, as well as the internet. Press explains the various ways of communicating cultures in their daily lives. It serves as a powerful tool because it can influence people whether it is good or bad to do something.
For example, people that join the event need to wear traditional attires for a day and ride the train as they are going to meet other contestants at someplace. As they are wearing traditional attires, they will be more attracted to the uniqueness of everyone’s attire and will develop a feeling of loving or proud of their traditional attire. According to Abdul Rahman Al-Murshid Al-Yaum (2017), people wanted to strengthen the cultural values of their country in their children’s minds and ensure that their children wear their national dress on special occasions such as Eid Al-Fitr, Eid Al-Adha and National Day.
In addition, the media that organize a competition among people regarding patriotism spirit to raise their feelings of love for their homeland. Of example, the press organizes a competition that asks people to take the most patriotic pictures or videos about their own country’s history. People involved in the contest will have to share photos or videos on their social media. Certain citizens who may come across the article or see it may also be interested in participating. It will also assist in rising the sense of nationalism of men.
Last but not least, because people enjoy the life of television more nowadays; it’s an opportunity to make more patriotism-related films. Entertainment producers, though, must test themselves by making interesting films or commercials related to history because viewers can be distracted by watching it. For starters, the film ‘Hati Malaya 1957’ grabbed many people’s hearts as it was interesting to watch and people understand the story they were trying to deliver and know more about the country’s independence past. Therefore, screening films and commercials such as history, records and much more about patriotism will raise the sense of patriotism in humans.
What would you suggest to local media producers on how to increase the sense of belonging to our country through creative works?
Media in Malaysia have the power to instill the spirit of patriotism and a sense of belonging among Malaysian as media is the main platform to spread information that can be reached by millions of people. However, the majority of Malaysian especially youngsters still lack the spirit of patriotism despite efforts that have been made by the media industry in Malaysia. Several changes need to be done by the media industry mainly films and dramas to captivate and educate the younger audience on patriotism.
First of all, Malaysia’s film and drama industry must improve the quality of output of movie and drama. The Malaysian film industry is relatively small with a population of 27.5 million people than other South East Asian industries. According to Aziz, Hashim & Ibrahim (2014), the industry is struggling to the hilt to cope with the influx of foreign movies, particularly from Hollywood, as the larger audience prefers Hollywood to local productions. Malaysia is also made up of different races and religions which make it challenging to create media content that can be embraced by everyone. Today, though, the film industry is changing to change as filmmakers are beginning to develop good content to captivate the viewer. ⠀
There are other movies and dramas with a theme of nationalism in contrast to 1957: Hati Malaya. Leftenan Adnan, Bukit Kepong, Embun, Hassan Sergeant and Ini Kalilah, for example. While films like Leftenan Adnan and Sergeant Hassan earned a considerable amount of love from Malaysians on the earlier day, contemporary patriotic movie today has its challenges to draw millennials.
The film industry needs to develop the value of screenplay and plot and deliver good material for society in order to overcome the challenges. Most of Malaysia’s film production always failed to deliver high-quality content due to a simplistic plot, especially when making the patriotic film. This will offer the millennials an impression of tedious and repetitive patriotic video. Film is always based on speculation to exist in the industry and ignore the standards of film that contribute to movie production without norm and reliability.
The film industry should also be conscious of the film’s technical value. The film industry is showing improvement in the use of software throughout the year to create a convincing scenario for the viewer. The production team will invest millions in delivering good results, recording and making full use of filmmaking technologies. Nevertheless, Malaysia’s broader film production also relies on using the technology by making blockbuster film and film style that goes back and forth between monsters, comedy and love as well. For entertainment goods, this again produces repeated content. Nonetheless, efforts are being made by the smaller film production team to serve different material to the viewer, the efforts are insufficient as the production team cannot afford technical aspects to provide decent cinematographic effects that will result in a lack of enthusiasm towards the movie among the viewers.
For example, in 1957: Hati Malaya film is also made in Malaysia by a small production team. It is possible to identify the low quality of cinematography and special effects as there are several scenes that are deficient in special effects. When making patriotic movies, popular film production teams will take risks and improve a film’s imagination to captivate a larger audience. Furthermore, due to lack of value of cinematography, the public should also continue to support local filmmakers as local people choose foreign movies rather than local ones.
Therefore, through promotions across newspapers, the spirit of patriotism can be instilled in Malaysian society. Of example, mass media such as television, radio and newspapers are a means of spreading information to a larger audience. In addition to passing on knowledge and information, media is a way of building social prosperity. Both people and organizations will benefit from carrying out media campaigns, in particular by raising awareness of specific issues and building momentum for improvements in society’s understanding and mindset.
Most of the media outlets in Malaysia on the individual day of the year would depend on certain subjects. For example, media in Malaysia will publish stories related to an annual event that is the celebration of the Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Deepavali as well. Every year, media will also mark Malaysia’s National Independence Day by encouraging and fostering the value of patriotism and nationalism in Malaysia. Moreover, the annual program only exercises nationalism when it is the end of August as a society has its drawback. Other media producers would run a continuous patriotism project through newspapers, radio, and magazines in order to instill a sense of belonging among Malaysia through creative work.
‘However, mainstream mass media have the potential of swaying individuals unswervingly and distributing behavior-changing information faster than other approaches to interaction’ (Tabassum, 2018). These media producers should have created material, advertisements, shows and public service announcements with national ideals and positive messages to inform Malaysians about the importance of democracy and the importance of independence.
In conclusion, patriotism is the feeling of love, respect, and pride for one’s country. Most Malaysian especially those who have seen the hardships during the struggle for Independence Day, feel that the youth of the country is lacking the spirits of patriotism. However, this is a false statement as there many other youngsters who have the spirits of patriotism as shown in General Election 2014 where Malaysia went through government change to oppose corruption from becoming a norm in the country. The perspective and point of view of the youth in the country are just a bit different from the earlier generations. The younger generation believes nationalism is the transformation needed to achieve an open-minded culture, help the minorities, and provide a better country and future in general. In contrast, Malaysian teenagers are increasingly active on social media and raise their voices on various social issues such as depression, suicides, cyberbullying and other issues that may be harmful in society. Because youth are the future of the country, it was mistaken by the older generation and perceived as an act of rebellion.
Therefore, in order to build a better nation, the country’s citizen must exercise compassion within themselves. Instead of dwelling on the disparities in ethnicity and skin color, the country’s citizen should come together to build a country with a spirit that never forgets its origins and background while continuing to develop in cultural, technical and technology terms.
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