Yasmin Ahmad (1958-2009)
Yasmin directed the excellent MCYS video Funeral and that is when mainstream Singapore was wowed by her talent. However, she was already an established independent socio-political commentator across the causeway with works like Sepet. An award-winning touching film about ethnic relations that I’ve still unfortunately not watched yet, but heard so much about since it was launched with much controversy. It is a big shame that Yasmin is no longer around. You will be missed.
The spirit of Yasmin
Award-winning director Yasmin Ahmad did a non-commercial advertisement entitled “Tan Hong Ming In Love” two years ago.
The advertisement was filmed in a primary school and the camera focused on a primary school boy named Tan Hong Ming.
The interviewer asked the boy: “Who do you like the most?”
Tan replied: “Umi, Umi Qazrina.”
“Why do you like her?”
“She wears earrings, she ties a ponytail, she is pretty.”
“Does she know you like her?”
“No, I keep it a secret.”
“She doesn’t like me,” he said after some hesitation.
Then, the interviewer asked Umi Qazrina, a lovely Malay girl: “Who is your best friend?”
“Tan Hong Ming.”
“Do you like him?”
Umi did not answer but she blushed.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
She nodded shyly.
“Who is your boyfriend?”
“Tan Hong Ming.”
At that moment, Tan, who was standing next to her, was shocked in disbelief. He then held Umi’s hand with a smile on his face and walked away.
The footage ended with a statement: Our children are colour blind. Shouldn’t we keep them that way?”
The advertisement was made for the 50th Merdeka Day.
Many activities were held and a lot of money was spent on the 50th Merdeka Day celebration two years ago.
It was the 50th Merdeka Day, but so what? Political parties were still stressing on racialism, politicians were still playing up racial issues and everything was so frustrating.
I thought so at that time and only felt a little relief after I saw the advertisement. Finally, someone has actually made the point.
It was the spirit of Malaysia 50 years after Merdeka. It could be found nowhere else, but it exists naturally in our children’s world, and Yasmin found it.
Our children know that people living in this country or even in this world can actually get along and love each other without racial barriers. Problems among racial groups happen to be the worst man made invention.
Yasmin also made another non-commercial advertisement.
The interviewer asked a Malay boy:” Who is your best friend?”
He pointed at the Chinese boy next to him.
“What is his race?”
“What is race? Race, that means race car?”
Yasmin Ahmad had always made our hearts warm and brought us confidence.
She was a true Malaysian and she left us footages that represent the true spirit of Malaysia.
The government should gather all her works and show them to all Malaysians through schools, National Service and training centres of Biro Tatanegara, replacing all those racist teaching materials.
It is the best way for us to remember and thank her.