‘Citizen Liow’ vents his frustration in short film
KUALA LUMPUR: It is Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai as we have never seen him before – shabby, dispirited and a little rude.
Without his signature full-rim spectacles, Liow, playing an ordinary citizen in a video with a poignant but powerful message, vents his spleen about the country’s current mood.
From the hurtful balik tongsan comment to corrupt practices, Citizen Liow is determined to get his frustrations off his chest.
He even throws a fistful of sweets at a guest in his home. The guest is also played by Liow, who essentially portrays his everyday role of a politician.
The on-screen sparring between both Liows is a creative, yet brutally frank, account of the general sentiments of the local Chinese community.
It is almost painful to watch the heated encounter, but that is exactly why the six minute-long video Citizens is so compelling.
Producers Pete Teo and Liew Seng Tat did not attempt to paint a rosy and glowing picture even though the clip was meant for the upcoming National Day celebrations.
The video boldly addresses the grievances and fears of the Chinese community in Malaysia, which means there will inevitably be “anger, helplessness and conflict”, as Teo explained on his Facebook.
Liow, in his real life as Transport Minister, Bentong MP and especially MCA president, must have often been at the receiving end of the kind of harsh comments hurled by “Citizen Liow” in the clip.
“Politicians only know how to talk!” is perhaps the most common sweeping statement that disregards the efforts and contributions of community and government leaders. In the video, Liow the politician admits there are shortcomings.
The seasoned politician says: “I can find excuses and try to defend ourselves by saying that circumstances do not work in our favour, but no, I won’t do that.”
“We didn’t say there weren’t mistakes. We did not handle many things well, but it is not easy to rule a country.”
“We have seen many politicians from both sides dwelling on the negatives when support for them fades. This alienates the people even further,” he said.
With the National Day just days away, the video is a timely reminder to those with political ambitions to reflect on their vision for the country.
Similarly, the public can look back at the past 60 years of the country’s development, from a mining and agricultural-based economy to today’s multi-sector economy anchored in manufacturing and services.
Of course, there will always be challenges and sacrifices as we progress. Good governance is a must if we are to continue on that path of growth and prosperity.
But as Citizens reminds us, it is important not to lose hope. We must believe that our founding father Tunku Abdul Rahman’s vision of Malaysia will come true.
At the end of the video, “Citizen Liow” has a change of heart. He quietly retrieves the Jalur Gemilang from storage and displays it on his balcony, with his real-life wife Datin Seri Lee Sun Loo at his side.
When met by reporters yesterday, Liow was visibly pleased with how the video has turned out. He said the message he wanted to send through the video was for Malaysians to unite and work together to make the country a progressive nation.
“We love this nation. We are proud to be Malaysians and we are working hard to make this country a stronger nation. That’s the aspiration and message we want to send out,” he said.
By Tho Xin Yi The Star/ANN
‘Youths worry about future, not politics’
CHERAS: Youths are more concerned about their future than politics. This is the feedback gathered during the recent TN50 dialogues with students from several universities, said MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
“However, I don’t think they are indifferent towards politics. They are aware of issues.
“For instance, they know that this is about TN50 and about a future that they want,” Liow said after attending a TN50 Dialogue @UTAR with 700 students at UTAR Sungai Long Campus here yesterday.
He cited education and health issues, including the ability to earn a decent living, as some of the aspirations raised by the students during the hour-long dialogue session.
Liow said it is crucial for youths to continue upholding the core value system practised by Barisan Nasional.
He added that Barisan’s core values such as consensus, mutual respect, unity, cooperation and harmony are shared by Malaysians.
“Barisan upholds values of consensus and mutual respect but DAP is sowing the seeds of hatred. The party is also sowing the seeds of anger towards the Government which is causing a split in our society,” he said.
Liow added that the Opposition lacked the core values and was now in a chaotic state.
There was a casual air about the dialogue session where students were asked by moderator MCA youth chief Datuk Chong Sin Woon to address Liow as “Ah Liow” and himself as “Ah Chong”.
Earlier during the dialogue, Chong warned students to be wary of fake news on social media.
“The reality is that most news on social media are fake.
“You should check the source and not blindly believe all that you read,” he said.
He also said that youths were more concerned about “bread and butter” issues rather that politics.
At another function, Liow said more skilled workers were needed as the country progresses.
“It is important for us to train more technical professionals. For MCA, we would like to expand VTAR Institute because of our significant growth in students from 100 to 700 in these few years.
“We will find the right place to expand VTAR and we hope to have more than 1,000 students here,” he told reporters after launching the PW2 wireman competency licence course at the institute in Setapak here yesterday.
VTAR is the vocational education arm of MCA.
Earlier during the function, VTAR CEO Tan Cheng Liang signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federation of Malaysian Electrical Appliances Dealers Association (Fomeda) president Gan Cheng Swee to run the PW2 programme. – The Star
‘Citizen Liow’ plays dual role in National Day video
PETALING JAYA: You’re not seeing double – it really is Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai playing two roles in a National Day video by producers Pete Teo and Liew Seng Tat.
The six minute-long video short entitled Citizens was released on Monday in conjunction with the upcoming National Day celebrations.
In the video, he portrays himself in his everyday role as Transport Minister, having a no-holds-barred conversation with a citizen who has grouses about the way the country is run – a role also played by Liow.
Liow, the minister, is smartly dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and slacks, while “Citizen Liow” is dressed very casually, with his hair a little unkempt and wearing a grey T-shirt, without spectacles.
Teo, in a Facebook post on Friday, said the project took months to put together.
“Largely this was because the script required a Federal Minister who had the gumption to submit to what we wanted to shoot.
“We kept trying and eventually found our man,” he said.
Teo said they did not want to make a film that could be confused for a “tourism video.”
Citizens reflects the current mood of the country, especially the fears of the Chinese community.
“It would therefore have to contain anger, helplessness and conflict. Yet it must contain hope – for we are even now not without hope – and so the film should also unite us in hope across the political spectrum,” said Teo.
This is not Liow’s first film. He previously acted in other 15Malaysia and Hari Malaysia shorts, also produced by Teo.
“What is different this time is that while he was civilly treated as a cabinet minister before, he will be brutalised this time; and while he was stereotyped as a politician before, he is now a human being – filled with the same fears, regret, conflicts and hope as all of us,” said Teo, adding that he thought long and hard about the casting.
Also making an appearance in the film is Liow’s wife Datin Seri Lee Sun Loo.
Teo said that it took courage for Liow, who is MCA president, to act in the film especially since he and MCA “are deeply maligned in sections of the Chinese community”.
‘Citizens’ Liow trends at second spot
PETALING JAYA: As Pete Teo expected, his National Day video in which Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai plays two roles is gaining traction among Malaysians.
The six-minute clip Citizens clinched the second spot on YouTube’s Malaysian trending list as at yesterday afternoon. It had 127,766 views, trailing Taylor Swift’s new music video. The rest were content related to SEA Games.
In the video, Liow, 56, portrays himself as the Transport Minister having an honest conversation with a citizen, also played by Liow, who has grouses about the way the country is run.
Teo, who produced the video with Liew Seng Tat, was glad to see it attracting attention.
“We expect the video to do well, because we think it is a good video and it has something important to say that goes beyond party politics,” he told The Star.
Teo said there were twice as many likes as dislikes.
He applauded Liow for being able to rise above his persona as MCA president and act as an ordinary citizen.
The video was released on Monday in conjunction with National Day celebrations.
Meanwhile, Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah said the video was “unpretentious and right to the point” and therefore, was well received by the community.
The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong) president said it rightly captured the country’s current situation.
“A main point stressed is that the situation warrants the need for us to listen to each other, consolidate our strengths, stay united and be loyal to our country.
“This is a way to overcome the challenges, instead of just venting our frustrations,” Pheng said.
Apart from acknowledging the people’s disappointments and empathising with them, he said Liow had been tirelessly reaching out to the community to guide and help them in whatever ways possible.
Pheng pointed out that Liow had to draw on the party’s strengths and his role in the Government to help the community effectively.
In conjunction with National Day, Pheng said it was timely for all Malaysians to reinforce respect, love and tolerance among themselves and for the country so as to move forward together.
‘Citizen’ producer all praise for Liow – Nation
Saying he would absolutely cast the Transport Minister in such a role again, filmmaker Pete Teo (pic) brushed aside some of the adverse comments on the casting choice.
“We think he did a great job playing the dual role of minister and citizen.
“That his casting is controversial has nothing to do with the job he does.
“We hope Datuk Seri Liow’s contribution will at least be acknowledged in the good spirit that it was given,” Teo said when contacted.
Teo, who produced the clip with writer-director Liew Seng Tat, said they had expected some form of backlash as soon as they decided that the role would be best played by a real-life politician.
“The fact that we eventually cast a Barisan National politician is besides the point, really. If we had picked an Opposition politician, the situation would be the same, except the accusations would be from Barisan supporters.
“So in a way, it was a no-win for us unless we had cast an actor,” he pointed out.
According to Teo, the film would have lost immediacy if they had cast an actor to play the role.
“So the decision was made to cast a politician. In fact, our choices were more limited than that because the script ideally required a Federal Minister.
“This narrowed down the choice to only several people. In the end, Datuk Seri Liow agreed to play the role and we went with him,” he added.
Teo said through the film, he and Liew wanted to drive home the message that it was important not to lose hope and to stay united when the going got tough.
“As said in the film’s opening lines, the last decade or more have been tough for the country. Non-Malay communities, in particular have felt alienated, helpless and fearful.
“That is why we are getting such hyper-emotive response to a Merdeka PSA film promoting hope and unity featuring a serving Cabinet minister from the MCA.
“It would be easy to dismiss these aggressive social media outbursts as rantings of opposition cybertroopers, but these are real people with real grievances,’’ he added.
Teo, a multiple award-winning singer-songwriter, also praised Liow for having the courage to be involved in a film with “brutally frank dialogue”.
“Many have ignored the fact that the minister explicitly said in the film that he doesn’t mind who citizens voted for as long as they let their conscience be their guide.
“This is a massively important statement. It underlines our film’s non-partisan credentials,” Teo said.
In the six-minute video, Liow portrays himself in his everyday role as Transport Minister, having a no-holds barred conversation with a citizen who has grouses about the way the country is run – a role also played by Liow.
The video clocked in more than 200,000 views in four days since it was uploaded on YouTube.
‘MCA dares to face criticisms’ , Liow: We understand the voices and feelings of the people
KUALA LUMPUR: MCA understands the voices and feelings of the people and dares to face criticism, said Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
The party president said having understood the people’s grievances, MCA is committed to overcoming the problems.
“I must stress here that I am aware of the people’s opinions and feelings. Therefore, I am willing to face the reality as I know that is the only way for us to change for the better,” he said.
Liow, speaking at the Blossom Arts Festival Malaysia (BAFM) 2017 awards ceremony and closing at Wisma MCA last night, was responding to some of the responses towards his double role in “Citizens”, a National Day video.
In the clip produced by Pete Teo and Liew Seng Tat, Liow portrays himself as the Transport Minister having an honest conversation with a citizen, also played by Liow, who has grouses about the way the country is run.
Liow also explained that the video aimed at telling people to have faith in the country and never give up, besides showcasing the inner voices of a Cabinet minister and a layman.
Liow added that MCA is steadfast in performing its role in Barisan Nasional.
“We will continue to be the defender of the Federal Constitution, the corrector and the balancing force against hegemony.
“History would reveal that during critical moments, be it fighting for citizenship, persistency on multi-stream education, pushing for the establishment of National Economic Action Council or the recent movement against PAS’ Private Member’s Bill to amend Act 355, MCA has been consistent in playing its role in Barisan,” he said.
Meanwhile, MCA vice-president Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said the next edition of BAFM would be put on hold pending the general election.
“My comrades and I, as well as MCA staff, must turn our full attention towards preparing for the coming general election,” Chew, who is also the Malaysian Chinese Culture and Arts Consultative Council chairman and BAFM organising chairman, said.
She said BAFM has received the attention of foreign academicians.
Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, for instance, sent professors and students to observe the event, she added.
“If we persevere, we are confident of becoming a household name and a premier event among artists,” she said in her speech.
The month-long BAFM concluded yesterday. Also present at the event was China’s ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang.
By Yimie Yong The Star Online
PM: Chinese not ‘pendatang’, but loyal citizens