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Banned film's director searches for M'sian identity

Show Ying Xin  |  Published:  |  Modified:

INTERVIEW He was born in Sitiawan, Perak, the hometown of the last Malayan Communist Party (MCP) secretary-general, Chin Peng. During festivals, his family members will light up candles and burn incenses in front of a portrait of his grandfather. However, the story of his grandfather was never told.

The grandfather was a MCP member. One day, the family heard three gunshots, they knew that he had been killed by the British forces. From then on, his father has no memories of his communist father.

Lau Kek Huat, 38, graduated from National Taiwan University of Arts, majoring in motion pictures. His debut feature documentary "Absent Without Leave" initially looks for the connection between his grandfather, father and himself, but eventually digs out the forgotten chapter of Malaysia's official history.

Initially, he wanted to find out everything about his communist grandfather, but that journey went beyond his control. He managed to interview a number of ex-communist fighters and anti-Japanese soldiers.

However, the documentary was banned from being screened in Malaysia, for "having elements which may be negative for national development".

Undoubtedly, Lau was disappointed about the ban.

"I thought it could be shown in Malaysia, this is my promise to them (the former communists)," said Lau in an interview with Malaysiakini.

"I planned to invite them to the cinema, and they will receive applause from the audience - that on-site feeling would be different."

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