Tax rebate for local Chinese and Tamil movies

February 4th, 2011 by poobalan | View blog reactions Leave a reply »
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I’m not sure if this news will be well received by the proponents of Malay language. Bahasa Malaysia is considered national language according to constitution, so according the other languages similar tax breaks will be angering these groups. However, if we are to accept the diversity of our country (as I always said, we can’t just shout about diversity and multi-cultural, but no doing much to cultivate it) then we can accept the suggestion to offer tax breaks to Chinese, Tamil, English and other language movies locally produced.

This step can help promote the local entertainment industry for Tamil and Chinese community. By having that extra cash, they can use it for more promotional activities or invest in better quality tools/actors/services to improve movie quality.

However, the current ruling which says the movie’s content must be 60% in BM is a problem if still maintained. The ruling need to be rescinded if the proposal is to be accepted.

Homegrown movie Ice Kacang Puppy Love and other Malaysian productions in Chinese and Tamil are expected to be given a 20% entertainment tax rebate following a request by Information, Commu-nications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim to the Finance Ministry.

“The news is timely,” film director Tan Kheng Seong (pic), popularly known as Ah Niu, told the Daily Chilli, a news portal of The Star, yesterday.

However, he suggested that the rebate be given across the board – to all Malaysian-made films – instead of only to those with 60% dialogue in Malay as stipulated by National Film Development Corporation (Finas).

He also suggested that the rebate be backdated to 2010 instead of this year because there was a boom in the local movie industry last year.

A news portal had reported that the Cabinet had an in-depth discussion of the issue and Rais, who is responsible for the matter, had asked the Finance Ministry to allocate a refund for the film.

Ah Niu, interviewed on arrival home from Beijing, said: “The budding local Chinese film industry really needs the support of the Government in order to grow.”

Citing strong international interest in Malaysian-made Chinese films after the phenomenal success of Ice Kacang Puppy Love, the talented musician and filmmaker added: “Malaysia and Singapore can produce good Mandarin films. But our production costs are really high, partly because of the tax.

“If the Government can help us with tax relief, we stand a good chance of competing with Hong Kong and penetrating China’s market with more quality projects.”

Ice Kacang Puppy Love, which starred Ah Niu, Lee Sinje, Victor Wong, Gary Chaw and Fish Leong, raked in RM4mil at the box office last year.

But Ah Niu said he ended up paying RM800,000 in tax (20% entertainment tax) because his movie did not meet the current criteria for a tax rebate.

Echoing the sentiment, James Lee, who had a crossover success in the Malay and English markets with horror movies Histeria and Sini Ada Hantu said: “It’s a great idea. We need to support and protect our local films, be they in Malay, English, Chinese or Tamil.”

According to Minister Rais Yatim, the movies should have BM subtitles. Anyway, let’s see how the proposal is actually implemented. There may be some “small prints” that end up disqualifying most movies.

Malaysian-made movies in Mandarin, Cantonese or Tamil with Bahasa Malaysia subtitles are now recognised as local movies, Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Rais Yatim said today.

Citing an example, he said that ‘Ice Kacang Puppy Love’ (Cinta Ais Kacang), directed by Tan Kheng Seong or popularly known as Ah Niu, is already classified as a local movie.

“I have decided with our committee and I have informed the cabinet about this decision,” he said.

“Therefore, if the movies make money at the box office, they will be given the entertainment tax rebate,” he told reporters in Shah Alam.

It was reported earlier that the locally-produced Chinese movie, ‘Ice Kacang Puppy Love,’ which raked in RM4milion, did not qualify for the 25 percent tax rebate as it had been classified as a foreign movie.

It was also reported that the movie did not comply with the provisions of Finas, the National Film Development Corporation, which stipulated that local movies must have at least 60 percent dialogue in Bahasa Malaysia to meet the conditions for rebate.

However, there were also reports that the movie could enjoy the rebate.

Asked when the Ministry would make the refund, Rais said: “I think we can make an announcement (on that) in March.”

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