Malaysia’s FINAS Replaces Top Executives

Zakaria Abdul Hamid has been appointed as chairman of Malaysia’s National Film Development Corporation of Malaysia (FINAS). He replaces actor and businessman Hans Isaac, who is standing down. Well-known film writer, producer and businessman Norman Abdul Halim has been appointed as deputy chairman.

Both appointments were announced over the weekend by Malaysia’s Ministry of Communications and Multimedia. They have immediate effect, and terms run for two years.

Isaac had been appointed in April last year and served only 13 months of his two-year term. He and actor-director-screenwriter Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nazri (“Pencuri Hati Mr. Cinderella”), appointed as chief executive in March 2019, were touted as a pair of safe hands. Their role was to steady the organization, which had been rocked in 2018 by allegations of embezzlement.

Instead, Isaac proved to be a controversial choice. Six industry bodies in December accused him of causing Ahmad Nadzri, to end his contract a year early.

Zakaria Abdul Hamid is a well-known U.S-educated businessman and politician. He was expelled by the People’s Justice Party (PKR) over corruption allegations relating to last year’s party elections. He denies the allegations.

Norman bin Abdul Halim is founder of KRU Studios, which has activities stretching from production through studios, to special effects. It has credits including “Vikingdom,” animated feature “Ribbit” and “Cicak-Man 3.”

At the same time as announcing the FINAS appointments, communications minister Saifuddin Abdullah said that a task force is being set up to get the creative industries moving again. It has been badly hit by the country’s anti-coronavirus lockdown, known locally as a Movement Control Order.

“Last week, we gave approval to start the filming of documentaries and advertisements after (Muslim holidays, also known as Eid) Hari Raya for big players who could afford to restart soon,” the minister said. “But for small players who did not have income for two to three months, restarting would need a bit of assistance and the aid was among our proposal to the government. We hope to have some good news for art practitioners.”