Monday, April 13, 2009

A Good Story from RPK

What do foreign investors face when they come to Malaysia? How do they overcome the government bureaucracy and the many rules imposed on foreign investors? Imagine this typical scene in a government department when a movie producer tries to get approval to shoot a documentary in Malaysia:

Excuse me, but I’m wondering if you could help me.

Tengok itu. (The officer points to a sign on the wall that says: GUNAKAN BAHASA MALAYSIA).

I’m sorry. I don’t understand.

Mesti guna Bahasa Malaysia.

I’m sorry, but I’m an American. I don’t understand the local language.

Must use Bahasa Malaysia. Not American language. I cannot speak American.

But we don’t have an American language. We speak English.

Oh. Why don’t you get your Bumiputera partner to come if you cannot speak Bahasa Malaysia?

I don’t have a Bumiputera partner.

How can? All foreign companies that do business in Malaysia must have Bumiputera partner.

But we are not doing business in Malaysia. We do business in America. I am here to find out how to get a permit to shoot a documentary in Malaysia. We are a movie company.

Oh. You want to make a movie in Malaysia. Very good. Malaysia has plenty of history and culture. Good place to make a movie. You must show the Twin Towers and the Penang Bridge and the Iskandar Development Region in your movie.

No, it is not that kind of documentary. We are making a documentary about the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Aiyah! Cannot mention that name. That name banned.


Yes. Government ban anyone mentioning the name Altantuya.

Oh. Then how do we address that?

I don’t know her address. Maybe you ask the Mongolian Embassy.

No, I don’t mean her address. How do we solve the problem of her name?

Altantuya Shaariibuu can’t be used. But you can use Aminah Abdullah. That name not banned by government.

Okay then. I want to make a documentary about the brutal murder of Aminah Abdullah.

That one okay. Government can approve. But you must also show the Twin Towers and the Penang Bridge and the Iskandar Development Region in your movie.

But those have nothing to do with the documentary. The documentary is about the murder of Altan…..

Ah, ah, ah….

Sorry, I mean Aminah Abdullah.

Why you can’t also show the Twin Towers and the Penang Bridge and the Iskandar Development Region in your movie?

Okay, maybe I can show some clips of the Twin Towers and the Penang Bridge and the Iskandar Development Region in the documentary.

Good. But must show the Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur okay? Cannot show in Melaka like that Sean Connery movie, Entrapment. Our PM was very angry. He said the foreigners distort the truth.

Okay. The Twin Towers will be shown in KL.

And also the Penang Bridge and the Iskandar Development Region.

Okay, I will also show the Penang Bridge and the Iskandar Development Region in KL.

No, the Penang Bridge is in Penang and the Iskandar Development Region is in Johor.

Okay, I will take note of that.

And what about the songs?


Yes, must show some local songs.

But this is a documentary about the murder of Al…….

Ah, ah, ah.

……Aminah Abdullah.

But can still show some local songs even if the story is about a murder. You must show Siti Nurhaliza singing. At least two songs.

Okay, we shall show City what’s her name….

Siti Nurhaliza.

……City Nurlaziha singing……


Nurhaliza singing two songs.

Good, good. And what about Umno history?

Umno history?

Yes, must show Umno history and how Umno fought for Merdeka from the British.

But what’s that got to do with the murder?

You must show Umno history and how Umno fought for Merdeka. If not government can’t approve.

Okay, I shall show the Umno history and how Umno fought for….fought for….


….Merdeka from the British.

Good. And don’t forget to also include the new PM’s speech.

New PM’s speech?

Yes, Najib Tun Razak.

What has his speech got to do with the movie?

Must show. Must show new PM declare he never met that Mongolian woman.

You mean Aminah Abdullah?

No, PM just said he never met that Mongolian woman. He never mention any name. Must show that speech in the movie.

Okay, we will show that as well. Do I take it if I agree to all those terms I can get permission from the Malaysian government to shoot the documentary in Malaysia?

You got Bumiputera partner?


Must have Bumiputera partner. See list here. You must choose one Bumiputera partner from this list.

Okay, I will choose a Bumiputera partner from this list.

And must give 70% contract to local Bumiputera companies.

I don’t understand. What contracts?

70% of your work must be done by Bumiputera companies.

But we don’t need local participation. We shall be bringing our entire crew from the States.

But make sure not from Pakatan states. That one government can’t approve.

Pakatan states?

Yes. Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan.

No, I mean our entire crew will be brought in from the United States of America.

Cannot. Must have 70% local. Only 30% from America.

Okay, I will try to squeeze that requirement in.

And which state you want Datuk? Excuse me. I don’t get that.

You make movie about Malaysia you can get Datuk. Which state you want? Can choose.

Oh, I don’t think I’m interested in Datuk, whatever that is.

Aiyah, people pay RM250,000 for Datuk. Why you don’t want? You make movie on Malaysia can get Datuk free. No need pay RM250,000.

Okay, throw in the Datuk for free then.

Okay, we will arrange Melaka Datuk for you. Where you shoot the movie?

In Selangor.

Aiyah, Selangor cannot. That is Pakatan state. Choose another state.

But the murder happened in Selangor so we need to shoot the documentary where the murder happened.

Selangor cannot. If Pakatan state, government cannot approve. You shoot in Melaka. Melaka very historical.

Okay, okay, we’ll go along with what you want. Is there anything else I need to know?

When you launch movie the First Lady must be invited.

The Queen?

No, not Queen. Rosmah Mansor.

Will she come to the premier?

Of course. If Shahrukh Khan go, she will go.

But Shahrukh Khan is not in the documentary.

Why not? He is very popular in Malaysia and First Lady like him. He also got Melaka Datuk like you. Must show him in movie.

Look, can I come back to you on that? We shall have to decide whether we still want to shoot this documentary in Malaysia.

No problem. When you already decide you come again to see me. We welcome all movie companies to Malaysia and will extend our cooperation and help you. Foreigners always welcome in Malaysia.

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