Apa Khabar Orang Kampung
PETALING JAYA (Feb 22) Amir Muhammad's latest film Apa Khabar Orang Kampung, which documents the stories of former Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) members, has been banned.
The 72-minute film which earlier this month premiered at the Berlin Film Festival features interviews with about ten Malay members of the now defunct CPM who currently live in exile in southern Thailand.
This is the second film by Amir which has been banned since May last year.
His earlier movie, Lelaki Komunis Terakhir, was initially approved for limited screenings by the Censorship Board but was eventually banned by Home Affairs Ministry because the semi-musical documentary was deemed "insensitive" to Umno's 60th anniversary celebrations last year.
The Censorship Board, in an official letter to the film director today listed seven reasons for Apa Khabar Orang Kampung's ban.
The board said it objected to the film's misrepresentation of history, citing how it attempts to value the communists' struggles.
The board also objected to how the former communists tried to liken their struggles against the Japanese and the British to those of other celebrated anti-colonial fighters such as Datuk Bahaman, Mat Kilau, Tok Gajah, Datuk Maharaja Lela and Tok Janggut.
"This distorts historical fact," the board said.
It also said the movie was inappropriate because it was critical of the Malaysian government, and of first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman's role in the failed 1955 Baling talks with the CPM.
"I am not entirely surprised with the ban," Amir told theSun.
He told the Censorship Board that, he was willing to censor the film and to have it rated for viewers aged 18 and above.
"What I have shown in the film has been published in books. It is just a different point of view. In the end, the public has the right to make up their mind.
"Presenting a different point of view is proof of democracy. It appears we have a strange democracy," Amir said.
Amir said he has no regrets making the film which among others interviewed Idris Yusof (known as Pak Kasim), Chunsun Sewei (known as Pak Budin), Awang Ismail, Che Dat Anjang Abdullah, Suriani Abdullah, Yaacob Ibrahim and Indrajaya Abdullah.
Pak Kassim passed away in September last year while Pak Budin died in January.
"The movies captured bits of our history," Amir said.
He said he would appeal the ban, adding that he was also submitting the movie to the Singapore International Film Festival pending the censorship board's approval there, and to the Hong Kong Film Festival.
Censorship Board chairman Datuk Mohd Hussain Syafie said the board viewed the film four times, with one special screening for ten Special Branch officers.
"We didn't come to this decision without a lot of thought," he said, adding that the board put public sensitivity first.
To a question, he said it would have been impossible to censor parts of the film that were deemed problematic. "If we make the cuts, there will not be much to see."
He denied that the board had to be more stringent with Apa Khabar Orang Kampung because of the political heat it came under after approving Lelaki Komunis Terakhir.
"We felt Lelaki Komunis Terakhir was historically correct. That's why we gave the movie the green light."
Amir submitted Apa Khabar Orang Kampung to the board on Jan 18 and the board's decision was made on Feb 12.
Here are the 7 reasons as stated in Amir's blog:
7 reasons were given for the ban. To avoid misrepresentation, I will present them in the original Malay:
1. Tema filem ini cuba menggambarkan seolah-olah perjuangan Barisan Bersatu Komunis di Semenanjung Tanah Melayu dahulu adalah satu perjuangan yang murni dan patut mendapat penghargaan. Dengan itu mesej filem ini lebih kepada usaha pihak tersebut terutamanya ke atas anggota komunis berbangsa Melayu.
2. Filem ini juga menunjukkan bahawa kerajaan Malaysia tidak berlaku adil kerana tidak menghargai perjuangan mereka.
3. Filem in lebih kepada menyuarakan pendapat atau cerita di pihak komunis itu sahaja tentang pendirian dan matlamat perjuangan mereka supaya masyarakat bersimpati dan menghargai sumbangan mereka.
4. Kritikan-kritikan terhadap Kerajaan Malaysia jelas ditunjukkan dalam filem ini kerana menawarkan skim pemulihan yang tidak dapat diterima berbanding dengan kerajaan Thailand yang sedia memberikan tanah, rumah dan kemudahan asas bagi membolehkan mereka meneruskan hidup setelah berhenti dari menjadi komunis. Di samping kritikan terhadap kerajaan, institusi kesultanan dana (sic) penghinaan terhadap orang Melayu juga ditunjukkan.
5. Filem ini juga cuba memperlekehkan YM Tunku Abdul Rahman, bekas Perdana Menteri Malaysia sebagai orang yang menyebabkan 'BALING TALK' menemui kegagalan sedangkan fakta yang sebenarnya ialah pihak Komunis tidak bersetuju meletakkan senjata.
6. Bekas anggota-anggota komunis itu menyamakan perjuangan mereka dengan perjuangan pahlawan-pahlawan Melayu yang mementang pemerintahan British seperti Dato' Bahaman, Mat Kilau, Tok Gajah, Dato' Maharaja Lela, Tok Janggut dan lain-lain. Ini memesongkan fakta sejarah.
7. Filem ini tidak sesuai untuk dipertontonkan kepada masyarakat umum kerana fakta-fakta yang tepat (sic) di samping menyentuh sensitiviti dan kenangan pahit bekas anggota keselamatan dan orang awam yang pernah menjadi mangsa kekejaman komunis.
And here's the trailer for AKOK:
Visit also the movie's official blog here.