Sunday July 4, 2010
By SHAMALA VELU
The siege staged by a Japanese militia is played out in Astro’s Suatu Ketika ... historical series.
THE younger generation may not be aware of the tense standoff on the morning of Aug 4, 1975, when five members of the Japanese Red Army stormed the AIA building in Kuala Lumpur, taking with them 53 hostages.
Among those seized were two diplomats from the United States and Sweden. At that time the embassies of the United States, Japan and Sweden were housed in the AIA building, a prominent landmark.
Armed with explosives and wearing black masks, the militants began to make their demands, forcing the governments of Japan and Sweden to immediately release seven of their comrades imprisoned in the two countries.
The hostage crisis gripped the nation and the drama that unfolded inside the building was dark and dismal. Not much has been said about the event since. Until now.
In its continuing Suatu Ketika ... (Once Upon A Time) historical series, Astro recounts the events of that day in the documentary 1975: Serangan Tentera Merah (Attack Of The Red Army) as well as in the parallel drama Soldadu Merah (Red Soldier). They will be broadcast on the channels Astro Prima and Astro Citra respectively.
“The two programmes, each made with a different approach, will give viewers a better understanding of the negotiations that led to the release of the hostages,” said Nizam Sani, Astro Prima channel manager.
The pair of programmes joins Astro’s Suatu Ketika ... roster which, since May last year, has produced a string of shows that retells significant events and remembers extraordinary figures in Malaysian history.
Among those previously screened are Rosli Dhoby, Si Tanggang, Mahsuri, Mokhtar Dahari, Pos Dipang, Laskar Senoi, Puteri Gunung Ledang, Piala Thomas, Botak Chin and Sybil Kathigasu.
According to Sani, the production team took great care in gathering facts for 1975: Serangan Tentera Merah.
“It portrays in detail the incidents on that fateful day up to the negotiations conducted to bring all the hostages to safety,” said Sani. “We also obtained videos and interesting footage from the RTM archives.”
The documentary includes interviews with a former terrorist prisoner and hostages such as Prof Dr Mansor Jusoh and a Swedish citizen named Ula Odqvist.
“The fact-based drama, meanwhile, makes for compelling viewing,” Sani promised.
He added that for the first time, the actual events that took place before the building came under siege will be discussed openly.
“Everything from the time the hostages were abducted to the day they were freed will be presented,” he said.
Veteran star Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan plays Home Affairs Minister Tan Sri Ghazali Shahabuddin Ahmad, who was among the government officials attempting to find ways to resolve the crisis, in the dramatic Soldadu Merah. The cast also includes Zack Taipan, Buzen and Azhar Sulaiman.
‘Suatu Ketika ... 1975: Serangan Tentera Merah’ airs on Astro Prima (Channel 105) at 4.30pm today while ‘Suatu Ketika ... Soldadu Merah’ follows at 9pm on Astro Citra (Channel 131).