Tanda Putera

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Tanda Putera
Directed byShuhaimi Baba
Distributed byPersona Pictures
Release date
  • 29 August 2013 (2013-08-29)
Running time
115 minutes
BudgetRM 4,700,000[1]
Box officeRM 930,000[1]

Tanda Putera (English: The Mark of a Prince) is a 2013 Malaysian history film directed by Shuhaimi Baba. The film chronicles the relationship between Tun Abdul Razak, who was the second Malaysian Prime Minister, and his then deputy Tun Dr Ismail set around the time after the 1969 racial riots. The film was intended to be released in Malaysian cinemas on 13 September 2012 but the release was delayed until 29 August 2013[2] due to some controversy regarding the portrayal of the racial riots being the plot point of the film. It is Shuhaimi Baba's sequel film to 1957: Hati Malaya in 2007.


The film is a fiction loosely based from the race riots of 1969, when the racial tension had reached its height.[3] The film portrays the close friendship between the second Malaysian prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak and his deputy, Tun Dr Ismail. They were secretive about their health problems as they had the task of restoring the peace in their country following the events of 13 May 1969. Tun Razak was suffering from leukaemia and he had to keep it a secret from his family, so they both sought the services of Dr. Macpherson, who used his reading room as a secret clinic for his treatment.


Historical figures[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]

  • Kavita Sidhu as Kara
  • Riezman Khuzaimi as Sergeant Aman
  • Kuza as Maimon
  • Zaefrul Nordin as Corporal Musa
  • Ika Nabila as Zarah
  • Zoey Rahman as Johan
  • Ahya U as Zaman
  • Alan Yun as Allen

Historical accuracy[edit]

Shuhaimi Baba had stated that the film is based on true historical facts and that it is not a propaganda and that the film is mainly about the friendship between Tun Razak and Tun Dr Ismail, while the 13 May incident is merely a backdrop to the film. However, Shuhaimi also mentioned that there were significant amounts of creative illustration and fictional content added in.[4][5]


Critical response[edit]

Aidil Rusli writing for The Star calls the film "an engaging experience"[6] despite its "niggling faults" - its approach to an episodic narrative "having to cram everything into a two-hour movie", and "less-than-believable" CGI shots to illustrate the period the film was set in.[6]

Umapagan Ampikaipakan, of radio station BFM 89.9, on the review website UmaandJoe.com says that the film glorified Abdul Razak and Dr Ismail at the expense of their predecessor Tunku Abdul Rahman; that it had "made Tunku look like a blithering fool. It made him look toothless. [...] when you tell the story, you don’t undermine another leader. You don’t say Bill Clinton was great but JFK was a loser.”[7][8] His co-host Johanan Sen observed on the production aspect of the film where its first half "looks like an unfinished History Channel special without voiceovers done or without any proper historians being interviewed. [...] ...a re-enactment footage arranged together without proper narrative."[7][8]

Erni Mahyuni of Malay Mail, in a scathing commentary of the film that was widely circulated online, also stated of its seemingly lacking of a coherent narrative; with the ensemble cast's performance having "the collective expressiveness of IKEA furniture". The performance of lead actor Rusdi Ramli in particular was derided for his "unconvincing" expressions and "forced" chemistry with co-actor Zizan Nin, the latter aspect coming across as "a parody of bromance".[9] Erni further wrote that the movie appeared to have negationist undertones against the 1969 riots and it negatively portrayed the two statesmen protagonists "as pompous idiots who do not trust their wives".[9]

There was also some common ground regarding how the central characters of Abdul Razak and Ismail, and their wives had been miscast by more younger actors.[6][9]


The movie failed to collect back its budget, affected by the Penang screening ban and intense competition with other international movies that were also showing in cinemas at the time such as Kick-Ass 2 and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. In addition, another local movie that was released at about the same time titled KL Zombi surpassed it and the aforementioned international films to hit second place in opening weekend takings between 29 August and 4 September alone, with only Elysium beating it at first place.[10]


Penang ban, viewing advisory and screening[edit]

Before the release of the film, it sparked controversies about the accuracy of its contents after the release of the trailer in relation to the 13 May riots. Opposition lawmakers alleged that the film portrayed the Chinese and the Democratic Action Party (DAP) in a negative light.[11] Further controversy was caused after there were allegations that the film's official Facebook page featured a picture of opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang being carried away by a group of uniformed officials with captions claiming that Lim had urinated on the Selangor flag in the house of former Selangor chief minister Harun Idris. Lim denied the allegation in response and said that the picture featuring him in the Facebook page was actually taken in Sabah in 1984. The director Shuhaimi Baba also denied that Lim was to be featured in the film.[12]

On 28 August 2013, the Penang state government had sent out advisory directives[13] to all cinema operators in the state to not screen the movie. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had claimed that there are slanderous scenes that could provoke racial hatred.[14] However, less than 24 hours after the directives were issued on 29 August, the state government issued another contradictory letter stating they were merely "advised" against screening it, instead of otherwise banning it. Cinemas in Penang eventually screened the movie despite the state government's advisory. Communications and Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the movie would reach cinemas in Penang starting 31 August 2013.[15]


  1. ^ a b "Tanda Putera flops in the box office, loses about RM3.77mil". news.abnxcess.com. 29 September 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Tanda Putera". Golden Screen Cinemas. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  3. ^ Mok, Opalyn (29 August 2013) Director admits Tanda Putera a work of fiction, defends controversial scenes. The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved on 8 January 2014.
  4. ^ Director admits Tanda Putera a work of fiction, defends controversial scenes – MSN Malaysia News. News.malaysia.msn.com. 24 August 2013.
  5. ^ "Storm over Tanda Putera film". The Star Online. 17 August 2012. Archived from the original on 18 August 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  6. ^ a b c Aidil Rusli (24 August 2013). "Tale of two princes". The Star Online. Star Media Group Berhad. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b Umapagan Ampikaipakan; Johanan Sen (31 August 2013). "REVIEW: Tanda Putera". Uma & Joe. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  8. ^ a b T K Letchumy Tamboo (2 September 2013). "Tanda Putera ridicules Tunku Abdul Rahman say Uma and Joe". Astro Awani. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Erna Mahyuni (31 August 2013). "A review of 'Tanda Putera', a film that takes liberties with the truth". The Malay Mail Online. Malay Mail Online. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  10. ^ Dzamira Dzafri (4 September 2013). "Zombies surpassed expectations". Cinema Online. Cinema Online. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Screen 'Tanda Putera' uncut or we will make an Anwar movie, Perkasa says". The Malaysian Insider. 14 August 2012. Archived from the original on 16 August 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  12. ^ "Kit Siang: I was defamed on Tanda Putera's Facebook page". The Malaysian Insider. 16 August 2012. Archived from the original on 18 August 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  13. ^ Mok, Opalyn (29 August 2013); "Penang cinemas pull plug on ‘Tanda Putera’" | Malaysia. The Malay Mail Online. Retrieved on 8 January 2014.
  14. ^ "Penang government requests cinema operators not to screen Tanda Putera". The Star Online. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  15. ^ "Finas to order screening of Tanda Putera in Penang". Malaysiakini. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.

External links[edit]