Thursday, February 11, 2010


Runningtime: 36min
Genre: Documentari
Language: Malaysian

20 Oktober 1947 merupakan hari bersejarah dalam perjuangan berperlembagaan rakyat Malaya menuntut kemerdekaan dari penjajah British. Filem dokumentari pendek ini menceritakan pengalaman yang dilalui oleh 5 individu yang turut serta dalam perjuangan politik kiri untuk membentuk sebuah gerakan kemerdekaan rakyat di Malaya, sepuluh tahun sebelum merdeka.

October 20th, 1947 was a historical day in the Malayan people’s constitutional struggle for independence from British colonialism. This short documentary chronicles the events that culminated in the Malaya-wide ‘Hartal’ day of protest against the undemocratic Federation of Malaya Constitutional Proposals devised by the British Colonial Government and the UMNO, and the rise of the people’s democratic movement in Malaya, ten years before Malaya Merdeka.

I was late again. At times like this, I wish I can operate TB 2828 and stop relying on others to bring me around in their car. I hate waiting and this is what I’ve been doing for the past one month. Waiting. And waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting. So, I was walking faster than everyone else. I knew I missed it, I missed the opening of the Freedom Film Fest. Darn. I can’t blame out chauffeur for the day, can I? Anyways it’s not my car, so I can’t bitch. Period.

I arrived with a wide grin but my Julia-Roberts-smile is greeted with cold stares from some of the fest organisers. One of them even eye-f***ed me. I was like, whatever maaan! Shouldn’t these people be welcoming us instead of making us feel like we were so, err, unwelcomed. F*** ‘em. Still grinning widely, I went to the counter and to our surprise (duh), it was full house. What did we expect being 40 minutes late?

Fortunately, a friend Li Ying was there volunteering for the organisers and her “larger than life” smile gave me a sense of relief. I was at ease again. So, we spoke for a while and forgot the misfortune of having our seats given to others who made it on time. Having a conversation with Li Ying can be pretty daunting. Not that she is bad (she’s sweet), but it’s because she is a person you don’t want mess up your English in front of. I consider myself a bad speaker and am will get the shivers when she’s around as I found myself lost once I tried to say anything.

Okay, language problem aside, we were fortunate enough to catch one of the winning documentaries of the festival this year - “10 Tahun Sebelum Merdeka” by Fahmi Reza. I found the short documentary very thought-provoking, funny, smart and cool. Very, I must add, educating as well. Oh man, the songs in 10 Tahun Sebelum Merdeka are super fine! First impressions first, I was tempted into thinking mthat this short docu-film is written and directed by some old guy who has a potentially damaging grudge and hatred towards the government. But actually, Fahmi Reza is a bright young dude with extraordinary vision. Certainly not the norm in the so called pool of “useless” young generation today. Plus, he’s cute! Extra points awarded!

Through this short film, I realised that the times I spent in my secondary school history lessons were totally well spent! I have the tendency to fall asleep in my history class even before my history teacher sets foot in my the classroom. Coolness. And after watching 10 Tahun, I am actually proud to say that I got 6C for SPM History. In our history books, so many things were left out and are being hidden from the real Merdeka achieved 50 years ago. Who would have thought that people at that time, colour blind as they were, were actually against the Federal of Malaya Constitutional Proposals (FMCP)? And this led to a Hartal, to display the protest the whole nation were mutually agreed upon. Not many of us today know what the FMCP is. It could be either because you dozed off while your history teacher talked about it or because your teacher had a “meeting” and missed some of of your classes. Why didn’t we talk more about the Constitution in school? Well, I am not the right person give you a lecture about history. So, according to the leaflets that were given, here is what “10 Tahun Sebelum Merdeka” is all about:

“Unknown to many, October 20th, 1947 was an important and historical day in the people’s constitutional struggle for independence from British colonialism. This documentary chronicles the events that culminated in the Malaya-wide “Hartal” day of protest (a form of non-violent protest) against the undemocratic Federation of Malaya Constitutional Proposals devised by the British Colonial Government and the UMNO. This was the rise of people’s democratic movement in Malaya, ten years before Merdeka.”

In my lame-o opinion, these unsung heroes by the names of AMCJA-PUTERA, API, GERAM and other respectable movements should be given due attention, if not more, in our history books rather than over glorifying the right wing “pejuang-pejuang kemerdekaan.” Just because they’re leftist doesn’t mean they were trying to destroy the nation for their “own interest.” They just wanted to make sure the democracy that UMNO was negotiating with the British at that time stands for all people of Malaya. Sadly, the democracy and the liberation that we have achieved were not what the people of Malaya communally agreed upon. The peoples’ constitution was rejected and thus, the people of Malaya at that time were disgraced by this rebuff.

Hartal, a word that you will not see in the history text book and never will if you don’t google it, is something that people of Malaya did just so that their voices could be heard. But, as was (and still is) the case, the peoples’ voices were often ignored. I am amazed at how brave people were back then to do such acts for the nation and the fact that they bonded together regardless of race or ethnicity. It just blew me away. They came together as a union of the people of Malaya who actually cared about their country. Today’s generation have a lot to learn.

I agree with the girl who suggested during the short discussion sessions after the screening that 10 Tahun be screened in our schools so that these unsung heroes will get what they deserve - recognition. We have no idea what the people faced in those times just so our “pejuang” today get what they get. “Merdeka!” The one night they celebrate every year with their face up in the air, watching those breathtaking fireworks in the sky after a ridiculous countdown to midnight, shouting “Merdeka!” without even knowing history itself.

Trust me, there is no chance this documentary is going to bore oblivious kids to death. The songs help. Fahmi Reza is one brilliant dude. He knows how to attract his target audience, which is youth. He uses the right songs, the right medium, the right expressions, the right mood and everything else. I know he worked hard to make this 30-minute documentary. The facts, figures, journals or memoirs of prominent figures back then and also newspaper clippings from the archives. The editing is fantastic!

If you missed the Freedom Film Fest this year, well, screw you. You just missed the most honest documentary on Malaya’s independence. Kudos to Fahmi Reza for making a history lesson less boring, less painful and cool for the first time in my life. Please log in to his website or blog at for more info and details on the documentary. I think Fahmi Reza is totally brilliant and cute =p
-by Syarifah Hadli (



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