Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Did someone do a Tian Chua of the flag-burning?

The UMNO-led outrage over the flag burning incident during the opposition protest where 2 unarmed protestors were shot shows no signs of abating.

Below is the photo that was carried by the mainstream press and broadcasters... and as someone must have calculated, sparked a big hue and cry over the alleged desecration of the Malaysian flag.

But before you jump on the bandwagon and throw both your hands up wailing that the incident is a national insult by a member of the opposition party, a blogger named mohdnasir has posted an analysis of the photo on his blog.

He basically picks apart individual elements of the photograph and puts up some arguments as to why he thinks that it is a doctored, photoshopped picture comprising of superimposed images.

And I have to say, his conclusions are intriguing.

Kita lihat gambar bendera yang dipegang oleh pemuda itu. Ia jelas satu lukisan bukan satu imej bendera sebenar. Tone warna bendera itu sekata dan ini amat tidak realistik memandangkan suasana ketika itu adalah waktu malam.

Warna jalur merahnya, robekan bendera di sebelah bawah, lambang bulan-bintang berlatarbelakangkan biru dan asap apinya juga tampak jelas semuanya adalah dilukis dan rekaan semata-mata kerana satu hal yang tidak logik malah tidak mungkin sebaran asap itu mempunyai bentuk kaku yang tidak realistik. (lihat kawasan yang ditandakan dengan garis)

The colour tone of the flag is too uniform and unrealistic, since it was night time.

Many aspects of the flag, from the stripes, the folds at the bottom, the crescent moon, stars, blue background and the smoke are clearly drawn as a separate construct.

The frozen appearance of the smoke is unrealistic. Look at the area that has been outlined.

Kita lihat pula pemuda yang mencangkung seraya membakar bendera itu.

Imej pemuda itu jelas ditampal kerana kecacatan yang wujud di sekurang-kurangnya 3 tempat:

A. Tempelan adalah ketara di tangan pemuda itu dengan imej seluar dan kain pelikat dua orang pemuda di belakangnya.

B. Apabila imej itu diteliti dengan resolusi yang tinggi kita akan dapat melihat kesan tampalan di aliran badan pemuda yang mencangkung itu.

C. Kedudukan bayang-bayang pemuda itu salah kerana aliran cahaya dari hadapan tidak memungkinkan bayang-bayang untuk berada tepat di atas objek.
A. The hand of the flag-burning youth and the images of the trousers and sarong of the 2 people behind him are clearly superimposed.

B. When the image is viewed in high resolution, we can see the effects of superimposition around the silhouette of the squatting youth.

C. The position of the shadow under the youth is incorrect as it is impossible for the light source (which is in front) to throw a shadow that corresponds to a light source which is directly on top of the youth.

Close up of point (C).

Malaysiakini even goes so far as to post a 'reconstruction' of that night's events based on first person accounts - I'm not sure though if it corroborates this analysis of the photograph.

Not withstanding that, what do I think?

I think mohdnasir makes a very sound argument. I think we should all take this photograph with a large pinch of salt. If nothing else, the persistent efforts of UMNO to talk only about this flag burning (as if to crowd out all other current events that have cropped up since, from the public eye) DEMANDS that we place their efforts and hence, their 'evidence' under intense scrutiny.

Read here for Malaysia-Today's take on UMNO's insistence on pursuing the flag-burning issue. RPK makes an excellent point, which I'm about to paraphrase. Why does UMNO feel so angered and outraged by bloggers, youtube rappers and flag-burners (when these incidents are ultimately trivial and superficial) and yet, they feel no shame, nor experience as compelling a call to action when confronting rampant corruption, police shootings, racial & religious extremism and spiralling crime?

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