19 Aug – Malaysia's 56th Independence Day is just around the corner and cinemas may be called to play "Negaraku" before each movie screening in cinemas nationwide.
It is still not decided whether this practice will continue until Malaysia Day on 16 September. There is also a possibility that this move to play the national anthem may be for a long term basis such as was practiced in Thailand and India.
According to Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, they can only confirm their plans this Wednesday, 21 August, after discussions with cinema operators in Malaysia.
"To me, this is only a minor sacrifice for us as citizens to appreciate our independence and remind ourselves of those who made sacrifices in defending the sovereignty of the country."
Should the plan take off, cinema operators are encouraged to ensure that the audience stand up when the "Negaraku" was played, and one such initiative is to turn the theatre lights on.
"There should be no force as it is our responsibility to stand, in respect of the national anthem and that should be our practice. If it could be done during football matches, why the same can't be done in cinemas for only a few days, in conjunction with Merdeka Day?" said Ahmad Shabery Cheek.
In response to Ahmad Shabery Cheek's proposal, producer and director duo Fred Chong and Namewee said, "It would be better if they conduct a national poll and get some feedback from the public on this first. Patriotism should not be imposed, it should be done voluntarily. Take Thailand for example. When they play the national anthem there, the citizens voluntarily stand up and sing because they love and respect their king. No regulation is necessary and there were no complaints. However, in Malaysia, things may be slightly different, so in order to avoid any unwanted reactions, they should run a public poll first."
TGV Cinemas Sdn Bhd (TGV) Chief Operating Officer, Gerald V. Dibbayawan, also had something to say on the matter, "If FINAS says the proposal is implemented, we will definitely comply. We are honoured to be able to play a role in this as we believe that in positively influencing our cinemagoers."
As for Lotus Five Star Cinemas (LFS), Director Garuna Murthee said, "Playing "Negaraku" in cinemas is no problem. I'm just worried if people would actually stand up during the anthem, that's all."