(After all, his previous film The Last Communist was banned last year, and he was exploring similar territory.)
And lo it came to pass. The Censorship Board gave 7 reasons for the ban, including that it shows the Malaysian government and former Prime Minister, Tungku Abdul Rahman in a bad light.
Who actually owns history? That's the really big question. Perhaps only a country fearful of its present tries to censor its past?
As Farish says:
It would appear that Malaysia is still suffering from growing pains, despite the fact that the country will celebrate its 50th anniversary of independence this year. After 50 years, and despite the fact that the MCP (Malaysian Comminist party) is practically non-existent in the country today, the ever-so-sensitive sentiments of right-wing nationalists will tolerate no alternative viewpoint contrary to their own; even if this means denying the fact that it was the MCP and its military wing that fought against the Japanese imperialist army during the Japanese occupation of Malaysia during World War Two, and later the returning British imperialist army following the end of the war. Dubbed ‘terrorist bandits’ by the colonial power then, the MCP and its members have been steadily written out of the history books and the process of historical erasure continues unabated till today.And we have seen how recent books have been withdrawn or lost for months in a "restricted books" limbo*, because they offered perhaps an alternative (and personal) account of how things happened during The Emergency.
Zedeck Siew writes about the ban on the Kakiseni website and the organisation Artis Pro Activ have issued a press statement.
This ban contravenes Article 10 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression. In any democracy the right to a different point of view is fundamental. A country cannot call itself a democracy and demand that all its citizens share a singular, official point of view. The Malaysian government must begin to accept that Malaysian citizens have differing views on many things and they have the right to voice those views. It is through healthy debate that we grow as a nation. That if 50 years after independence we cannot discuss our history then Malaysia is not an adult democracy but one still crawling out of the cradle. And it is decisions like this that keep us in the cradle.I add my Mat Salleh voice to the protest, and hope that Amir's appeal is successful.
Because someone has to keep pushing at those boundaries, and I'm glad that Amir is brave enough to do it.
You can watch a trailer for the film at Amir's blog. The DVD of the previous film, The Last Communist, is on sale at amazon.com.
* I heard this morning that Faces of Courage has at last been released for sale ... almost a year after it was seized at Johor.