Finas: Be ‘patient and understanding’

Ahmad Idham says Finas is working on detailing SOPs for current MCO, which will be stricter compared to during CMCO and RMCO


MEMBERS of the television and film industry have been implored to remain “patient and understanding” as the new standard operating procedures (SOPs) that will allow their businesses to resume are now in the hands of the National Security Council.

National Film Development Corp (Finas) CEO Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nadzri (picture) said the SOPs during the Movement Control Order 2.0 (MCO 2.0) are a set of new guidelines as filming activities were totally not allowed in the first round of MCO that was enforced last year.

“We are working on detailing the SOPs for the current MCO, which will be stricter compared to those introduced during the Conditional MCO (CMCO) and Recovery MCO (RMCO). Basics of the SOPs are already there, but don’t forget the procedures and some considerations that must be taken into account.

“This is related to the government. Sometimes I cannot reveal all. I can’t decide things that are not in my power. What we can do now is help the government ease the process,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) yesterday.

Ahmad Idham said while filming activities are vital for the livelihood of those within the production companies and industry as a whole, any decision made will also involve other people’s lives.

“As much as production companies would want to rush and continue filming, there are also producers who have told us to take it slow because they don’t want to continue shooting at the moment.

“The question is, how do we balance this? This is the thing that people don’t see because they only know one side. We need to see this industry as a whole,” he said.

Screenwriter and director Al Jafree Md Yusop, one of Finas’ most vocal critics, said the agency does not seem to act urgently on the industry’s reopening and the people’s welfare.

“The (Finas) CEO announced that we have had the SOPs since Jan 12, which is a day before the beginning of MCO 2.0. So, why does it take them so long to present it today (Monday)?

“It is baffling for the industry to be barred from operating when there has been no ‘production cluster’ unlike other sectors. What did Finas do for the past one month? Did they give the right information to the government?” Al Jafree said.

He added that if the formulation of SOPs was an issue, British Film Commission’s standardised regulation could be a good reference for the Malaysian chapter to emulate.

Al Jafree said most creative industry players are usually paid based on projects, or commissioned by TV stations, but they had to stop working due to the MCO.

“It is obvious that some who rely on daily pay have not had any income throughout.

“That’s why it is frustrating. It seems like Finas only favours views from other ‘major players’ more,” Al Jafree said.

He hopes the industry will be able to resume soon.

Al Jafree, however, did not spare his criticisms against the national film agency over its handling of current issues.

“If the task is too big, or the responsibility is too heavy, maybe, you should consider resigning.”

It was reported that a petition for Ahmad Idham and Finas chairman Zakaria Abdul Hamid’s resignations has been launched by creative and film industry players, on grounds that they have failed to address the welfare and other concerns within the sector.

Freelance producer Saifudean Zulkifli expressed similar sentiments.

“Almost all economic sectors are allowed to operate under this MCO. Why are we singled out? Honestly, I do not see any push or call from Finas to act urgently on this,” he told TMR.

Saifudean said there seems to be a double standard on the kind of productions that are allowed to continue filming.

“For example, talk shows are allowed to run, under strict guidelines. We had also observed the previous SOPs and there was no issue. I really don’t understand what seems to be the issue now.”

Read our previous report here

SOPs for filming, live events to be proposed today