The youth arm of Malaysia’s ruling political party has filed a police report against posters of a movie that touches on racism in the country and was named after an animal forbidden in Islam.
Mohammad Azwan Azmi, a youth representative of the National Alliance told reporters yesterday that the posters were offensive even though they were not publicized in Malaysia and were only available online. Malaysian rapper Namewee had been promoting the movie Babi, which means pig in Malay, on social media ahead of its official screening in Taiwan today where the 37-year-old is based.
“The poster is insulting, very rude, and has malicious intent to incite racism,” Mohammad told reporters outside the Dang Wangi police headquarters around 11am yesterday, later adding: “My report is based on the poster as it is insulting mainly towards Malays.”
Mohammad also said that there were other degrading texts in the poster. For example, the word “Melayu (Malay)” was written beside the text that said “Babi.” The phrase “Cina Babi (Chinese Pig)” that was also written in the poster could cause racial disharmony as well, according to Mohammad.
“I am concerned that these insults on the poster could cause racial disharmony in Malaysia,” Mohammad said.
The provocative rapper defended his directorial debut yesterday, saying that those who have intentions to complain about the movie to the police without watching it were “extremists.”
“Babi is actually a film about racial harmony. Those who haven’t watched the movie nor understand it’s message, yet still dare say they would lodge police reports without the facts – they are the true extremists,” Namewee, whose real name is Wee Meng Chee, wrote online hours before Mohammad spoke with the press.
The rapper said that Babi was based on a 2000 racially-charged school riot in southern Malaysia that was never reported in the media. The movie was banned in Malaysia and was nominated for awards in Berlin and Toronto. It was also in the running to win awards at the Bangkok International Film Festival and Taiwan’s Golden Horse Award.
“I feel very sad, but still, this film now receives international recognition and I cannot be prouder,” the rapper added.
A 2000 report by the Inter Press Service recorded several racial riots in high schools across Ipoh, Penang, and Kedah, where hundreds of students were involved and dozens injured. Malaysia, which is an Islamic country, is predominantly composed of Malays followed by people of Chinese and Indian descent.
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