I read with great amusement that one of the reasons quoted by the minister of home affairs why the movie 'Lelaki Komunis Terakhir' was banned was because it would be insensitive to release it at a time when Umno was celebrating its 60th anniversary.
Wasn't Umno part of the triumph over the Malayan Communist Party? Shouldn't that count as one of its past achievements as it approaches its 60th? I'm sure many other less awkward reasons could have been given as to why the minister evoked his powers to overrule the decision of the National Film Censorship Board.
If the writer/director of the movie, Amir Muhammad, decides to make a yearly appeal against the ban, I hope the ministry will come up with better reasons and try their best not to use the following:
2007: It would be insensitive to release the movie in the year of our 50th independence.
2008: It would be insensitive to release the movie in the year we are sending an Olympic contingent to the People's Republic of China.
2009: No appeal was submitted as interest in this movie would have waned those who were interested had already downloaded pirated copies from the Internet.
I have not seen the movie and am not sure how far it goes in 'promoting' Chin Peng. There are numerous documentaries available in Europe about Hitler and the Third Reich which are done tastefully. Maybe the difference lies in the fact that Hitler is already dead while Chin Peng is still alive?
Or is it the difference in the level of maturity between Europeans and Malaysians? Or is it the different mentalities of European and Malaysian politicians? Maybe it's a little bit of everything or even none of the above. I have to reiterate that I have not seen the movie so these are speculations at best.
I hope Amir Muhammad has not been discouraged by this episode. I wish him all the best if he decides to make similar documentaries in the future. After all, Malaysia needs more film makers who can use local content to reach out to an international audience.