Saturday, 28 February 2009


The Retrospective in London will present a selection of documentaries made for the Freedom Film Fest between 2004-2008.

The annual Freedom Film Fest (FFF) in Malaysia was conceived to create a space for social justice and human rights films amidst a controlled mainstream media and the lack of commercial backing. It has since been providing a valuable platform for Malaysians to voice their aspirations for equality, justice and participation in decision-making.

Malaysia's political landscape is changing in ways previously unimaginable for many; changes that can be attributed to individuals and groups who seek a more inclusive and just country. FFF films - whether gritty, artistic, raw, or polished - all document and reflect the efforts and aspirations of such Malaysians.

The retrospective in London hopes to create an awareness of issues raised by activists in Malaysia, while offering Malaysians and Friends in London a chance to catch up with and be a part of the change that is happening at home.

Who benefits?
The Freedom Film Fest supports film-making in the human rights,social justice and environment genres. Past films continue to provide inspiration to activists. Dr Jeffrey Phang from Friends of Kota Damansara, a group of residents trying to protect a green lung in Kuala Lumpur, said “When we were campaigning, we were truly inspired by one of the films which came from this festival, Alice Lives Here. When we saw it, we became more energised to continue our cause"(The Star, 22 March 2009).

hari smilingThis is a not-for-profit event. Ticket revenue is used to cover venue costs and surplus go to the Harinder Veriah Trust, a UK charity that works with underprivileged children in Malaysia. The Retrospective supports this charity for a number of reasons. Harinder's father, Karam Singh, was detained without trial for 4 years under the Internal Security Act(ISA) for leading a protest of plantation workers in 1967. The march from Asahan in Malacca to Kuala Lumpur took a week to complete. Hari's death in Hong Kong in 2000 led to the adoption of Anti-Racism Legislations in the country eight years later. Detention without trial, racism and the neglect of low-waged workers remain a problem in Malaysia today. Each pound we donate will be worth £1.28 to the charity when Gift Aid is claimed. As a UK tax-payer, do use this opportunity to support the children that the Harinder Veriah Trust cares for in Malaysia. Postscript : [March 2010] Ruttonjee Hospital, where Hari died, paid an out-of-court settlement to Hari's husband and son.

Read Why Care? - a review of FFF 2006.

What to look out for
Dr.Mahathir's quarrel with a 10 year old boy from Surrey, in Penusah Tana
A 20-year court case over £5, in Rainy Days
Collapse of the Highland Towers, in Twelve 11
Scenes from the BERSIH march in Pilihanraya Umum ke-12
Naked Ear Squats in Kopi-O-Khau, about police brutality.
... or, pick films with original soundtracks
by women activists
or, about education
...the 'Special Branch' and detention under the ISA
those seen but not heard - 9000 refugee children in Malaysia
and empty streets on Hartal day in 1947.

About Us
KOMAS was established to assist the marginalised by providing a voice for their tussle over rights in Malaysia. We work with grassroot communities and NGOs - using creative and participatory forms of communication to advance Human Rights. In 2008, KOMAS won the European Grundtvig Award for its programme on Education for Non-discrimination.


kamal sabran said...

wah gua support lu 100% bro

Spilinmy said...


Just thought that I'd let you all know that I thoroughly enjoyed the film festival. Very thought provoking and I enjoyed the short discussions too..

I thought See-See raised a brilliant point at the start of the film festival with regards to how we ought to hold our politicians accountable when they are here in the UK. I also thought that the films gave a deeper insight to certain issues that plague Malaysia.

Unfortunately I didn't manage to stay for the whole film festival, but I thought it was very well organized and very well planned. Great job! Would have been better if more people turned up (everyone should listen and see these films for themselves).

Thanks for putting such a great film fest,

Peter Ng

Danny said...


I really enjoyed the event - the films and discussion were very interesting.

As See-See mentioned, it would be great for something active to come out of this. I have a few suggestions from a student-perspective:

1)Make sure Malaysian societies at universities are open to democratic election as they should be, that everyone can vote and anyone can stand for a position etc. This can be done from within the Malaysian society, or with the help of the Student's Union who have a duty to ensure this is the case.

2) Then ensure all ethnic, cultural, political, religious backgrounds are catered for and represented within these societies. Hold events that emphasise non-partisan Malaysian nationality, not Malay or Indian or Chinese.

3) Malaysian societies, once democratic and representative, should partner with student human rights groups such as Amnesty, STAR (student action for refugees), religious groups, freedom film fesitval?... etc. to hold talks, discussions, show films about Malaysian politics- encouraging dialogue, opinion and freedom of speech about any issue.

4) Malaysian societies themselves, or splinter/sub-groups can then become activists in an area that is important to them: write to UK/EU/Malaysian MPs, start an online blog, sign petitions, hold demonstrations...

5) Many Universities in the UK are beginning to partner with Malaysia (e.g. Nottingham, Southampton...) Malaysian Students interested in Malaysian Human Rights can lobby Universities who have an interest in Malaysia to put pressure on Malaysian the Universities/campuses. For example, Malaysian University students should have the right to form student groups, protest, publish free-speech newsletters etc. If UK Universities are opening campuses in Malaysia, the UK Universities should also be importing human rights for students to these campuses.

Just some ideas, let me know what you think!

Danny Hutley

See-See Leong said...

good ideas Danny - one of the things that can be discussed by the international academic community is the Aku Janji (I promise) letter that all those affiliated with Malaysian universities must sign. It has been criticised for inculcating a "culture of fear, passivity and uncritical thinking in the campuses" (ref)

mshek said...

Thank you, See see and others for organising the Film Festival. I saw two films and like others, found them thought provoking and offering fresh perspectives. I am also heartened by the frank discussions that followed as I have never ever engaged with fellow Malaysians on the subject of politics on a deeper level.

Now we have started the momentum, we must keep this up with more debates and more importantly, actions. As I don't live in London, I have to rely on Web2 to communicate most of the times.

There are some useful ideas that Danny have posted about partnering with students societies. We must somehow mobilise other sectors at grassroot levels as Universities students can be dismissed as elite activists.

As Web2 is a great democratic leveller,

1. I wonder whether we could also start a digital radio station. I was looking at the digital radio sites the other day and was disappointed to find only one South East Asian one and one has to register on the web to access it! The radio can have debates, news, music, interviews, phone in to involve people talking about issues affecting them. I am happy to look for funding but I have no technical knowledge about digital radio broadcasting. Can people in Malaysia access this broadcast? Sorry, I am naive in this area.

2. Linkedin has a professional group called Friends of Malaysia. We can also form a group there?

Recently, I was told through Linkedin contacts, that there are 200 Chinese people camping outside the Chinese Embassy in Bucharest, Romania since January 2009. They were working at the construction sites and when the contractors went of business, they were left homeless with no food and no money to go home. Why is it news on our radar? My new friend is writing an article and we will circulate this to worldwide media.

I am happy to help in whatever I can.