FINAS needs to bend amid the pandemic

FDAM’s team giving out aids to artistes in Johor Bahru.

By Mohamad Letfee Ahmad

FDAM President Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 – The strife between film organisations and the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) on matters concerning the general well-being of industry players reached its peak when FINAS insisted that it is not a charitable organisation.

When responding to allegations by the President of the Malaysian Film Directors’ Association (FDAM), Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim that FINAS is only focussed on organising courses, workshops and the Malaysian Creative Capacity Enhancement Programme  (MyCAP) than on the welfare of film workers, FINAS Chairman, Zakaria Abdul Hamid stressed that FINAS is entrusted with developing the country’s creative industry, not managing a welfare portfolio.

The issue involving the two main stakeholders of the film industry has been the talk of the town at a time when all sectors of the economy including the film industry have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a film activist myself, I do not intend to prolong the conflict, instead will try to define the meaning of the term welfare in the context of a country that is facing a pandemic that seems to have no end.

The emergence of COVID-19 has forced governments around the world including Malaysia to change the landscape of government’s management and administration at all sectors and levels.

The development protocol is no longer seen as a physical infrastructure agenda but should also look at non-physical infrastructure including the well-being of the players of each industry that contribute to the economic development of the country.

In this case, FINAS as the implementing body of the film industry should not use the clause of the act as an excuse not to adopt the new normal in its daily operations.

Blindly adhering to the clauses of the act will result in the industrial landscape changing completely when there are no industry players left to continue the sector’s activities in the post pandemic phase.

No amount of funds channelled by the government to FINAS will have any impact on the development of the industry if its existence is only to achieve short -term goals.

For example, channelling funds for training programs will only provide financial compensation to a handful of course organisers while the participants will have to wait until the pandemic ends before they could benefit from the additional knowledge they gain from the course.

Another issue is the herd immunisation program which until now has been Finas’ greatest nightmare. 

FDAM deserves a pat on its back after it successfully organised a herd immunisation program in collaboration with the Selangor State Health Department.

At press time, more than 1,000 directors, actors and crew as well as their family members including those from outside the Klang Valley have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

If FINAS still adheres to its so-called principle that the agency “does not hold a welfare portfolio” as mentioned by its chairman, it may be time for the agency to abolish its Industry Affairs, Welfare and Industry Data Committee chaired by Datuk Sri Eizlan Yusof.

The views expressed in the article here are that of the writer and does not necessarily reflect that of Weekly Echo’s.