Locals Petition for Creative Industry Maven, Dato’ Kamil Othman to Return to FINAS

Published by Amirul Sanusi @ 02/06/2018

Locals Petition for Creative industry maven, Dato’ Kamil Othman to return to FINAS


In line with the new Malaysia spirit, the creative industry is also evolving with strong visionary leaders. YBhg Dato’ Kamil Othman was the former Director-general for National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) back in 2014. Recently, there has been a petition in hoping for Dato’ Kamil to be re-elected as the prime leader of FINAS. 

The petition was started by filmmaker Zain Azrai and is directed to the Minister of Communications and Multimedia Gobind Singh Deo. Looking for 500 signatures, at time of publication has already garnered 453 signatures and counting. Zain, who described Dato' Kamil as a 'visionary former D-G of Finas', said in the petition that Dato Kamil 'must return to transform the Malaysian film and television industry into a major source of domestic and export income for Malaysia'.


Kr8tif Express had an exclusive interview with YBhg. Dato’ Kamil to get his opinions about the overall of creative industry.

1. There is a petition to reinstate you as the next DG going around. How do you feel about this and what do you think makes you an ideal candidate for the position?

Frankly I didn't know about the petition until a few days ago. It embarrasses me a little because there is already a management team at FINAS and the current KP is already there, and the last thing I want is for someone to say the petition is about a coup de tat. Which is not the case. Read in between the lines. The petition is a call for change by some quarters of the industry of which I have no control. It is flattering for me but that is up to the Minister and the new Government to decide. Change will mean different things to many people anyway - and it does not matter who will do it as long as it’s done. So I do not see myself as the ideal candidate, let alone even as a candidate in the running. To some of them, I was the former DG so I should know better. That's all.  

2. In politics, there is a manifesto and all promises shall be made in the span of the next 100 days. Similarly, if given the chance to be the next DG, what are some immediate actions that you will take to improve FINAS and the creative industry in general?

There are still many outstanding things which I left behind (in Dec 2016) for the current management to follow up or pursue. So if I have a chance, those will be the areas of focus. In fact I'm already assisting the current management to expedite the changes. As for what could those changes be, they mostly revolve around organizational restructure , about less bureaucracy and more transparency, gearing up for internationalization and having an ongoing Malaysian presence at markets and of course a focus on developing our local talents and skills . I think what most industry players want is the "opening" up of FINAS which I initiated when I was there, including the monthly TanyaFINAS sessions which the current management has discontinued.

3. In regards to making changes, are there any policy & regulations that you are looking to implement or abolish? Give some examples of initiatives that should be reinforced and some that should be taken out?  

There are many ways of looking at industry development. In the case of FINAS, the "upgrading" of the FINAS ACT 1981 is very important because we must now be capable of adapting the Film & TV industry to the new digital environment fast. And also to seriously start thinking about how best to make this industry an economic contributor in terms of job creation, transfer of technology, exports and growth of intellectual capital for Malaysia. The Government has spent too much money on this industry already so it is only fair that we should move towards self-sufficiency. At the same time, we have also to think of ways to facilitate co-productions, co investments and co funding so that the industry here is not dependent entirely on the Government for funding support especially. I wouldn't refer to some of the other policies because it may not be relevant anymore, and where they are not relevant they should be taken out.  

4. In your opinion, do you think there should be one concerted organization that handles all segments of the creative industry or smaller agencies / associations that handle exclusively each industry such as films, television, music, animation, games etc?

I think the Arts will benefit from a centralized body because most are without "parents". Like the music industry, or fashion and design for example. They are in the twilight zone currently. Animation and games as technology driven industries are under MDEC so they are already in good hands. Film & TV should remain separate because they are covered under the FINAS Act 1981 so all that is needed is to place their development within the context of the digital environment. On a slightly academic perspective, the industries you refer to are to my mind the verticals. Our focus should be on the horizontals - the funding support, the manpower development, markets and distribution and so on. It is the confusion over this matrix that has resulted in the fragmentation we see today. As for the associations, they can remain as they are and focus on the well-being of their members. That's their role in industry development.  

5. What would be the closest international successful working model or structure that could be implemented to Malaysia’s creative industry that could reflect a “new FINAS”?

A hybrid between Screen Australia and Creative England.

6. Market access and promotion of IPs through exports are some crucial parts to ensure success in the creative industry. There used to be a reasonable amount of international marketing budget for this purpose supporting many successful prominent missions to MIPCOM, ATF, Busan, MIDEM, CANNES Film festival etc during your time. Pls elaborate further on this. 

In my view, the criticality of our market presence has been diluted by the fact that those entrusted with the marketing are not really professionals or market savvy enough. It is often said that most of the Malaysian delegates go on a holiday instead of work. This is because being at markets is not about just opening a stall and expecting potential buyers to walk in. There is a lot of hard work for the Malaysian delegates and companies to prepare even before they attend such markets. This is why the international networks is important, especially for our industry. Besides, we should get away from the mindset that attendance at markets is only to sell completed products because at the markets there will also be opportunities to get investors and distributors and co-producers, even for content that are still work-in-progress.

7. As a potential future DG, how would you ensure a zero tolerance on power abuse or corruption within FINAS Senior Management?

I believe the current DG is already addressing the allegations. The answer does not lie in witch hunting but in tightening up the SOP for any activity involving funds.  

8. If there is a chance for you to return to FINAS, would you take on the opportunity?

As I said earlier, if the Government of the day and the Minister are of the view that I can assist in the transformation of FINAS or the Creative Industry in general, then why not? I was at FINAS for two years and am well aware of what needs to be done further. As for the Creative Industry directly or indirectly I was also involved with it for many years. If things don't work out, well, I would be just as happy enjoying my days watching movies all day long amongst other things.

Dato' Kamil and other dignitaries at the Launch of Asia Content Business Summit Hong Kong

Dato' Kamil visiting FINAS-KKMM pavilion in KL Converge