Ahmad Nadzri was previously appointed CEO in March 2019. But he asked to leave the organization in March, 2020, after little more than one year of his two year term.
At the same time as the change of personnel, the national government allocated $53 million (RM225 million) as an economic stimulus incentive for the creative industry, as part of the wider National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA). The funds are to be administered by the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia.
The re-hiring of actor-director-screenwriter Ahmad Nadzri (“Pencuri Hati Mr. Cinderella”) appears to mark the end of an uncomfortable personnel merry-go-round at the film administration and funding organization. But it is not clear that all controversies will cease.
From March 2019 to May 2020, actor and businessman Hans Isaac had been chairman of FINAS. His position was regarded in some quarters as a political appointment, and with the recent change in government it was therefore likely that he would lose his job.
Isaac was accused by six industry bodies of causing Ahmad Nadzri to end his contract a year early.
But Isaac appears to suggest that there is unfinished business. On social media he published a letter that accused unnamed government departments of bureaucracy. He accused the Ministry of Health of not listening to him over the coronavirus outbreak, and also of trying to silence him.
“I have tried my best for this industry despite the bureaucratic pressures and challenges of government agencies,” he wrote on Instagram. “I have requested to meet to present (to the Ministry of Health) pro-active measures for the industry, but no space has been provided to this day…. I hear the voice of the industry demanding that FINAS explain the current challenges and that I am always aware, but we are bound by instructions not to make any statement.”
Isaac’s replacement as FINAS chairman, Zakaria Abdul Hamid is a well-known U.S.-educated businessman and politician, who was expelled by the People’s Justice Party (PKR) over corruption allegations relating to last year’s party elections. He denies the accusations.
Local media has also pointed out that one of the most notable features of Ahmad Nadzri’s previous 13 months as FINAS’ CEO was an attempt to censor Netflix in the country.
Problems facing the film industry in Malaysia include a small and fragmented production and distribution sectors, an institutional framework that crimps the exhibition sector, and low audience share for local films.