The Malaysian government has banned a film on the life and times of an octogenarian communist insurgent leader, who had also collaborated with the British during World War II, setting off a hornet's nest of charges about denial of freedom and space for democratic expression.

Film makers, movie buffs and ordinary people have expressed shock and anger at the sudden and unexpected ban on 'The Last Communist' - a semi-musical road movie that looks at life in the small towns in Malaysia that were connected with the colourful career of Chin Peng (pseudonym for Ong Boon Hua), former head of the long defunct Communist Party of Malaya.

Chin Peng, son of Chinese immigrants, collaborated with the British to resist the Japanese occupation of Malaya and was even decorated for it with the Order of the British Empire (OBE). But, in 1948 he launched a communist insurgency in what became Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

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