All eyes were on National Film Development Corporation (Finas) chairman Datuk Hans Isaac when he arrived for a press conference this afternoon.
Dressed in a blue suit, he looked cool and composed as he took his seat and glanced at journalists and industry representatives in Pawagam Mini P. Ramlee, Kompleks Studio Merdeka, Ulu Klang, Ampang.
His demeanour, however, did not belie the tense situation as everyone was awaiting his explanation on several issues that have put the heat on him.
Isaac began by talking at length several matters, including an earlier four-hour town hall session between Finas and members of the creative industry on how grants from Finas had been utilised. He also spoke about the feature film screening incentive (ITFC) where a total of RM1.5 million was dispersed to eight companies – Les’ Copaque Productions Sdn Bhd (Upin Ipin Keris Siamang Tunggal), Skop Productions Sdn Bhd (Misteri Dilaila), CB Pictures Sdn Bhd (Lee Chong Wei), Primeworks Studios Sdn Bhd (7ujuh), Evo Pictures Sdn Bhd (Red Storm), DAA Productions Sdn Bhd (Shun Pong O), Another Planet Sdn Bhd (Fly by Night), and At Movies Sdn Bhd (Azhaggiye Thee).
Then he addressed a series of questions, including calls for him to step down as he had “failed to do his job properly”, had “interfered” with the duties of his chief executive officer Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nadzri and had been influencing decisions involving the creative industry made by Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo.
The allegations were made on Tuesday by members of six associations –Professional Film Workers’ Association of Malaysia (Profima), Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM), Persatuan Seniman Malaysia, Malaysian Digital Creative Industry Association (PIKDM), Komuniti Filem Titiwangsa (Komfit) and Malaysian Cinematographers’ Association (MySC).
“The allegations (to step down) are coming from several individuals and are not the voice of the people. I respect their opinion but we have a lot of work to do in Finas and we are focused on results,” Isaac said.
He added Finas has done a lot recently, including increasing Radio Televisyen Malaysia’s (RTM) programme payment rates and the signing of the co-production agreement between Malaysia and Australia.
“The RTM increment has not happened in 33 years. It is historic. We were literally jumping for joy when we heard the news. We even stopped our meeting for five minutes when we heard about it.”
He added the co-production treaty with Australia started eight years ago but it did not go anywhere, yet Gobind and his team made it a reality in three months.
“Everyone can make allegations. I have had allegations (hurled) at me all my life. You are a good actor, you are a bad actor … to me, I just do what I have to do with the team.”
“I will not bow to any pressure. My appointment is by the minister (Gobind). The only person who can fire me is the minister and if he does so, I will respect it.”
On allegations that he had usurped Ahmad Idham’s role, Isaac said he was acting in accordance with his power.
“The CEO said he did not understand a few things, including dealing with matters concerning EPF and Socso for members of the industry. I also took up the role of chairman of the Malaysian Film Festival as he (Ahmad Idham) said he did not understand these matters.
“I took on these tasks and all these were put in the minutes by the board.”
Isaac said he will not hesitate to take legal action against those who smear his name, adding he cannot be expected to respond to every single allegation hurled against him or Finas.
He also shared that some present at the press conference on Tuesday, had texted him saying they did not know the press conference was about calling for his resignation.
Finas former director general Datuk Kamil Othman, who attended the press conference on Tuesday, had also said he did not know the press conference was about calling for Isaac’s resignation.
“I have been in this industry for 27 years, this is the best (team in Finas) I have seen … no disrespect to anyone else. We have moved in the past seven months more than ever.”
He said Finas deputy director general (creative and publicity) Subaidah Md Top will take on the role of acting CEO until a replacement for Ahmad Idham was found.
On claims that he had met, discussed and influenced Gobind to appoint “a crony” to take over Ahmad Idham’s position, Isaac had this to say:
“Gobind is a very intelligent man. Please have some respect for him. He is a lawyer. He has clusters of advisors and people that support him in any decision. I cannot change one man’s decision. It’s impossible.
“I had only met him (Gobind) once before he became a minister, during a wedding. After that, it was all about Finas. I have never met him alone. Someone is always with me. It is either a member of the board or Ahmad Idham.
“The minister is trying to do his best for the industry and we will help him,” said Isaac, who became Finas chairman in April.
On Monday, Finas announced that Ahmad Idham’s contract would be shortened from two years to one year and his services will end on March 10, 2020.