The arts are powerful tools of expression. The impact of a film or a song can be so significant that governments find it hard to stay away. Finding a balance between encouraging the arts but without politicising them is a difficult but necessary duty.
As the heated controversies over the recent movie “Tanda Putera” which depicted the May 13, 1969 riots demonstrates (even before being publicly screened), art can have a tremendous impact on the national psyche. The movie was accused in online media for portraying a racially skewed version of what transpired and who the agitators were.
Although this particular film may not be the best example, throughout history, art has sought to present penetrating perspectives on life. Where policies and political campaigns fail to capture public imagination, art can assume roles that are more effective; it can be the conscience, the detractor, the sarcastic commentator or the teacher.
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