Koh defends private screenings of Tanda Putera

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Private screenings of the controversial film on the May 13, 1969 racial riots, Tanda Putera are allowed because the cabinet decision to postpone its screening is restricted to public screenings only.

"There have been some private screenings for people to make some judgments and decisions.

"As long as there is no public screening, for that is the decision that was made by the cabinet," Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Koh Tsu Koon said today.

Asked why was this allowed despite charges that the film was racially divisive, the de facto unity minister questioned such a charge.

"I don't know how many screenings there have been, but has it led to racial strife? I don't know. You better check the facts before reporting on that," Koh told reporters.

Information Minister Rais Yatim had previously said that Tanda Putera's premier has been deferred because of 'inappropriate' scenes in the film.

'For the people's benefit'

"The cabinet has decided for the benefit of the people, that the official premiere of the film be postponed as it contains scenes that may cause conflicts.

"This is because it shows the tragedy of May 13 which is disputed by various parties," he said in November last year.

Koh, who was fielding questions at a press conference today, also announced that Malaysia has won the third place in the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2013 competition organised by the Jordan-based Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought.

The Department of National Unity and Integration would be awarded with a bronze medal and US$5,000 at a ceremony in Jordan on April 25.

Malaysia had marked the celebration with a series of events from Feb 1 to Feb 8, including one where Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak ( left ) toured five places of worship in Brickfields on Feb 2.

Koh added that the people should not engage with religious extremists who are at the fringes. Instead, the best policy was to simply ignore them and focus on efforts to foster harmony with those in the mainstream.

"Very often, people want to be heroes and utter certain statements. If you engage with them, there is more opportunity for them to say more and more," he said.

On other issues, Koh, who is also Gerakan president, declined to comment on Malay rights pressure group Perkasa's threat not to support his party's candidates.

"Let (Penang BN chief) Teng Chang Yeow deal with it, there is no need for me to issue a statement on this. To us, it is just a small matter and Teng has stated his stance on the issue clearly," Koh said.

Perkasa is irate about Teng's statement that he would not have attended the group's event at Speaker's Square, Penang, had he known earlier that Perkasa was involved in it.

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