M'sian cinemas to play national anthem for a week

MALAYSIA - For one week beginning next Wednesday, Malaysia's national anthem Negaraku will be played at cinemas nationwide before the start of all movies, announced Communications and Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

According to Ahmad Shabery, this move is meant to promote a patriotic spirit in the run-up to the country's 56th National Day on August 31.

"I'm happy to announce that five major cinema operators in the country - Tanjung Golden Village, Golden Screen Cinema, Lotus Five Star, MBO and Cathay - have come together to demonstrate their generosity with the ministry in this initiative," he said on Wednesday.

"We are now in the midst of preparing the detailed procedures for cinema operators within the next two days, and this will include the action that would be taken if anyone is found to be doing something disrespectful while Negaraku is being played," said Ahmad Shabery, who also introduced two songs written for this year's Merdeka (National Day) celebration.

Produced by the National Film Development Corporation (Finas), they are Pesanan Terakhir (90 seconds) and Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku (150 seconds).

"These promos are to remind us that we shouldn't take our peaceful existence for granted, and to stand up for five to six minutes while Negaraku (about a minute) and these songs are being played would be our way of showing gratitude and appreciation to our fallen heroes."

It was understood that cinema operators would have personnel to monitor the audiences to ensure that there is no untoward incident during the playing of the songs.

"This is not something new and I really hope there will not be any resistance from the public to this initiative," said Ahmad Shabery.

Movie-goer Aizuddin Arshad, 27, feels this is a great move that will help revive the love for the country, especially among the working adults.

"I used to sing the national anthem every morning when I was in school. But after leaving school, there wasn't an avenue for that. This will help me get back into that habit again," said the communication executive.

Digital media executive Lew Mei Yen, 24, feels there is a need to warm up to the idea first.

"I will stand up only if a majority of the crowd stands up. Plus, with a packet of popcorn and a drink in hand, it might be a bit inconvenient."

The Star's veteran movie reviewer Davin Arul, 52, has his doubts whether the move will actually instill patriotism, but nonetheless believes "it will at least give us a way to show who we are - Malaysians".

Yuvha Dharshini, 23, is all out for the move after returning from Bangkok recently.

"I went to a cinema in Bangkok last week. When they played the national anthem, I was so impressed that everyone stood up, even foreigners. Some even sang along passionately, and I hope to see this in our country."