Critics who felt the film had advocated autocracy reacted with discomfort. One reviewer condemned it as a "cartoon ideology" and justification for ruthless leadership comparable to "Triumph of the Will", the 1935 propaganda movie chronicling the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg. In the face of backlash, Zhang Yimou maintained that he had absolutely no political points to make.
The unanswered question remains: who should be the one person that determines the fate of millions? Adolf Hitler had his go at it, and six million ended up in the gas chambers. The horrible person initially denied it ("I don't remember any such thing. I cannot understand this, that Ong Pang Boon and Toh Chin Chye would say so. If one said so, I can dismiss it, but two said so..."), but Ong Eng Guan could have been prime minister if Toh Chin Chye had not exercised his prerogative as chairman to cast the determining vote. One of the cartoons in the best selling "The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye" features Lim Chin Siong as prime minister, reflecting on how history would be different if the horrible guy had not quit parliament and skipped overseas - good enough reason for the National Arts Council (NAC) grant to be withdrawn. Pure fantasy of course, but people should be careful of the choices they make. If, and when, they are actually allowed to choose.