"Curtains for The Last Communist"
By Cindy Tham
The Sun. 7 May
PETALING JAYA: Just 10 days before it is to hit the big screen, the Home Ministry has banned Amir Muhammad's film, Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (The Last Communist), despite it having got the nod of the Film Censorship Board which comes under the ministry.
A spokesman for Red Films, the distributor which also holds the production permit, confirmed it received a faxed letter from the ministry on Friday afternoon.
The letter noted that although the film had been approved by the censors, the ministry had decided to ban it "in the interest of the public", she told theSun.
This means they cannot display/exhibit, screen, distribute and disseminate the film.
Lelaki Komunis Terakhir was scheduled for screening at Golden Screen Cinemas in Gurney Plaza in Penang, Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur and 1 Utama in Selangor on May 18 and at a private charity event in Ipoh the next day.
"Red Films and Amir plan to respond to the ministry this week to confirm that we will abide by the letter," she said. "We also plan to appeal to have a discussion with the ministry to review the decision to ban the film."
Amir, the writer, director and producer of the film, is attending the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto, Canada, and will be heading to the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival after that. He is scheduled to return to Malaysia on Saturday.
Lelaki Komunis Terakhir, a "semi-musical documentary inspired by the early life and legacy of Chin Peng, exiled leader of the banned Communist Party of Malaya", is among the films screened at both festivals.
The spokesman said the ministry's decision came as a "surprise" because "we've already had a discussion with the censorship board prior to the approval".
Public wants movie banned: Chai Ho
By Llew-Ann Phang
PETALING JAYA: The curtains shall remain closed on the movie Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (The Last Communist) because that is what the public wants.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Tan Chai Ho said today (May 8, 2006) even though the National Film Censorship Board (LPF) had approved the screening of Amir Muhammad's latest film, the minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, retracted the approval last Friday (May 5, 2006).
"Under Section 26 of the Film Censorship Act 2002, the minister has the right to revoke or cancel approval because of public interest, and that is why the movie is not being screened," Tan said.
The Act says the minister may at his absolute discretion, prohibit the exhibition, display, distribution, possession, circulation or sale of any film or film publicity material if he or she is of the opinion that it would be contrary to public interest.
Tan said he heard there were many objections from the public about the movie after newspapers publicised it, and the minister had to consider these.
"The public was not very happy about the movie," Tan said, denying that the objections were from any religious group.
Red Films, the movie's distributor and co-producer, confirmed it received a faxed letter from the ministry on Friday (May 5, 2006) afternoon, noting that although the censors had approved the film, the ministry decided to ban it.
The semi-musical documentary inspired by the early life and legacy of Chin Peng, exiled leader of the banned Communist Party of Malaysia, was scheduled to make its debut at Golden Screen Cinemas in Penang's Gurney Plaza, Kuala Lumpur's Midvalley Megamall and 1Utama on May 18, 2006 as well as at a private charity event in Ipoh the following day.
Among public protests to the movie were news reports and editorials in Malay dailies, particularly over the last week that highlighted objections from veteran politicians, members of Parliament and historians.
One editorial in Berita Harian by Akmal Abdullah said while it might not be fair to punish the film without watching it, especially since the LPF had already approved its screening, the movie was a "tribute" to a Communist leader and the Communist struggle.
The assistant entertainment editor said Communism was not dead and could be revived at any time.