Bringing Chin Peng Home – ‘Lelaki Komunis Terakhir’ Reviewed

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July 2006

It is near impossible to write about Lelaki Komunis Terakhir without dealing with the immediate politics of the affair; the circus of the UMNO-directed banning (including the Arts Minister’s intervention) as well as a divided media, caught between anti-communist hysteria and liberal breast-beating. So perhaps the only thing to do in order to get beyond the political is to deal, and dispense, with that first. Some might want to grab Amir Muhammad by the shoulders, and in a futile attempt to shake sense into him, ask rhetorically, “what were you thinking when you embarked on this documentary slash musical!” “Were you courting controversy?”  After all, news of the production and the working title a year ago or so, was enough to get UMNO Youth’s knickers in a twist. They had then decided to take up the cudgels, vowing to stop the production: it was perhaps a slow news day for the brains trust of UMNO (or at least its spleen), for nothing much came of its protests. A chance confrontation (“What’s your party up to?” I asked) with a card carrying member of the Wing at the Cammies drew an astonished silence; to me, it was a sign that nothing more would come of this. A measured, but infinitely more insidious, response came in the form of a column in a local newspaper, advising Amir of the myriad Malay personalities (and a sprinkling of others) he might better mythologise. The issue was apparently ethnic as well as ideological. A year later, UMNO has had its way (overriding the approval of the film by other relevant government institutions) and the bitter after taste of a deeper ideological conflict has claimed yet another victim: not Amir (for he gallantly refuses victim-hood), but the opportunity to grow as ‘a people’ in understanding that which makes this nation possible and desirable (if that’s not too mawkish and nationalist a sentiment). [July 20, 2006] … More on MyArtMemoryProject.com “Bring Chin Peng Home“.

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