The film, described as:
... a documentary inspired by the early life and legacy of Chin Peng, exiled leader of the banned Communist Party of Malaya. Interviews with the people in the towns he lived in from birth to national independence are interspersed with specially composed songs in the mould of old-fashioned propaganda films ...was passed without any cuts by the Censorship Board. And when the film was screened for Special Branch officers, they found nothing at all objectionable in its content.
Sure, the name Chin Peng, stirs unhappy memories for the many Malaysians who suffered greatly during the Emergency, but the film does not feature an actor depicting Chin Peng, and does not seek to glorify the man, but rather to retell an important episode in Malaysian history. Chin Peng's autobigraphy is freely available in the bookshops here and I don't remember riots in the street over that.
And what's more (and this is where things really begin to get Pythonesque), according to Amir on his blog:
No one in Berita Harian has seen the documentary. And no one interviewed by Berita Harian had seen it either.I am of course incensed, but sadly not at all surprised. This kind of silliness is a fairly common feature of the intellectual landscape here and doesn't exactly enhance Malaysia's image in the eyes of the world, particularly as the film is currently doing the rounds of international film festivals.
I asked the lawyer-at-home what he thought about the case and he replied, "Don't worry lah. Today it's banned, but tomorrow it'll be unbanned. That's always the way with things here."
He may be right. But my heart goes out to Amir who has put so much time and money into the project, and whose only agenda, as far as I can see, is to make good art.
And excuse this big-mouthed Mat Salleh for sounding off, but I really do care about the direction this country is headed ...