Sunday, May 14, 2006

The first article in a Malaysian newspaper to be written by someone who has seen it


"Kenapa Lelaki Komunis Terakhir?"

Oleh Saifullizan Tahir


Mingguan Malaysia. 14 May

"Semua keluarga yang bahagia itu serupa; setiap keluarga yang tidak bahagia, merana dengan cara mereka tersendiri" - Leo Tolstoy.

KATA-KATA sakti yang membuka cerita Anna Karenina karangan penulis besar Rusia, Leo Tolstoy itu menjadi antara ilham kepada Amir Muhammad untuk mengerjakan dokumentari terbarunya Lelaki Komunis Terakhir.

Amir terilham bahawa untuk mengenal sesuatu masyarakat, kajilah mereka yang berada di pinggirnya dan bukan mereka yang selesa di tengah-tengah.

Tetapi filem itu telah mengundang kontroversi sejak awal lagi, sejak sebelum ia mula dibikin. Seorang ahli politik mengeluarkan kenyataan bahawa filem itu cuba mengagungkan perjuangan komunis.

Malah minggu lepas apabila filem itu mula diperkatakan menjelang tayangannya di pawagam terpilih yang sepatutnya dijadualkan pada 18 Mei ini, timbul suara-suara yang tidak senang dengan perkembangan Lelaki Komunis Terakhir.

Apa yang menghairankan tidak seorangpun dari mereka, termasuk wartawan tersebut yang sudah menonton filem ini.

Lain pula pandangan Presiden Persatuan Sutradara Malaysia (FDAM), Dr. Mahadi J. Murat misalnya ketika diminta pandangan beliau tentang dokumentari itu dan kontroversi yang timbul.

Sebagai pembikin filem dan ahli akademik Mahadi merasakan beliau perlu menonton filem itu sebelum membuat sebarang komen.

"Saya melihat filem sebagai filem. filem adalah satu kerja seni. Saya mahu melihat apa yang generasi baru ini lahirkan." katanya.

Tetapi secara peribadi Mahadi menjelaskan bahawa beliau memang sentiasa menanti kemunculan filem-filem keluaran tempatan.

Penulis sendiri mempunyai pengalaman peribadi tentang komunis. Walaupun datang daripada generasi yang tidak mengalami zaman perang secara langsung. Sungguhpun begitu, kami selalu dihidang dan dijamu dengan memori-memori peperangan dan kerengsaan generasi sebelumnya.

Sewaktu kecil, apabila balik ke kampung nenek, setiap malam kami akan diceritakan tentang kekejaman tentera Jepun dan kemudiannya komunis. Kami mendengar kisah bagaimana datuk saudara dan anak perempuannya ditahan komunis dan hilang tanpa khabar berita sampai ke hari ini.

Kesengsaraan dan azab kehidupan yang dialaminya itu dipindah turun ke dalam benak dan hati penulis yang ketika itu masih empuk. Semua itu meninggalkan kesan yang bukan sedikit kepada pemikiran dan emosi kolektif penulis.

Jadi apabila Amir mahu membuat filem mengenai Chin Peng, penulis terus dikejutkan oleh artificial memory yang telah lama tertanam dalam benak dan jiwa.

Pelbagai perasaan berkecamuk: Kenapa perlu menjolok sarang tebuan? Kenapa perlu mengejut gergasi sangsi yang sedang enak tidur?

Bukan sesuatu yang menyenangkan apabila kita disuruh bersemuka dengan sesuatu yang pernah memberi kesan mendalam kepada orang yang kita sayang. Malah memori mereka sudah seperti menjadi memori kami sendiri. Dendam mereka (yang kini menjadi dendam kami), kembali menyala.

Tetapi perasaan itu jugalah yang membuatkan rasa ingin tahu tentang dokumentari itu semakin menjadi-jadi.

Sebelum Amir mula membuat filem itu sendiri, penulis ada bertanya kepadanya, kenapa? Jawapannya ketika itu, kerana dia ingin tahu.

Setelah filem itu siap dan sedia untuk ditayangkan, sekali lagi penulis bertanya soalan yang sama. Kali ini Amir memberikan jawapan yang sama tetapi dengan sedikit penjelasan.

"Untuk mengenal sesebuah masyarakat adalah lebih baik dengan mengkaji minoriti, kerana golongan minoriti ini mendapat kesan secara langsung daripada pihak yang berkuasa.

"Mereka yang berada dirangkum majoriti selalunya selesa dan tidak merasa. Kalau negara kita ini merupakan negara komunis, saya rasa saya lebih tertarik untuk membuat filem tentang kapitalis."

Memang komunis dan komunisme memberikan banyak kesan langsung kepada perkembangan negara ini.

Lihat saja bagaimana pengstrukturan semula penduduk di Malaysia ketika itu, dan kesannya sehingga sekarang. Kaum Cina ditempatkan di bandar atau di pinggirnya supaya senang dikawal kerana jika di kampung atau di pinggir hutan mereka akan lebih terdedah dengan komunis yang majoritinya adalah berketurunan Cina. Dasar pecah dan perintah oleh Jeneral Sir Gerald Templer memberi kelebihan kepada kaum tersebut sehingga kini

Malahan undang-undang mengenai filem iaitu Akta Filem (Penapisan) 1957 yang disemak semula pada tahun 1971 digubal kerana komunis! Ingatkah kita bagaimana filem digunakan oleh regim Jerman sebagai penyebar propaganda yang paling berkesan? Jika berkesempatan tontonlah filem Der Ewige Jude (Yahudi Selamanya) (1941). Filem yang meyemarakkan rasa benci rakyat Jerman kepada kaum Yahudi. Tetapi, Lelaki Komunis Terakhir bukan filem propaganda.

Filem Amir ini lebih mirip kepada road movie, berbeza daripada filem dokumentari sebelumnya The Big Durian(2003) dan Ada Apa Dengan Indonesia(2005).

Apabila akhirnya dapat menonton sendiri filem dokumentari ini, penulis dapat merumuskan bahawa Amir sebenarnya bukan hanya bercerita tentang Chin Peng. Chin Peng hanyalah kalam untuk Amir menceritakan tentang sesuatu yang lebih besar, tentang Malaysia!

Melalui filemnya ini, Amir melakarkan potret Malaysia yang sangat familiar kepada kita tetapi pada satu sisi lain, agak berbeza - bagai artis impressionist melukis di kanvas. Dia tidak hanya merakamkan apa yang dilihat dengan mata kasar, tetapi turut menelanjangkan rupa jiwa masyarakatnya dengan larian berus yang unik dan tersendiri.

Amir membawa kita menjelajah ke utara Semenanjung Malaysia, singgah di tempat-tempat yang pernah dilalui oleh Chin Peng. Sepanjang perjalanan itu, dia menemubual pelbagai lapisan rakyat Malaysia dari pelbagai kaum mengenai diri mereka. Kemudiannya temubual yang sama dengan mereka yang kalah perang. Jika dihalusi, semua ini bukan dibuat secara rawak. Semua disusun dengan teliti.

Selain temuramah, apa yang menyegarkan adalah selingan lagu-lagu. Pendekatan ini secara sengaja melanggar rukun filem dokumentari. Ia meniru gaya filem propaganda Inggeris terhadap komunis. Lagu-lagu itu digubah khas oleh Jerome Kugan dan Hardesh Singh, pujangga dan pengubah lagu muda yang sedang meningkat naik.

Sehingga kini filem ini telah ditayang di beberapa festival di luar negara. Antaranya Hong Kong, Singapura, Seattle dan Toronto. Semasa di Singapura, sambutannya amat di luar dugaan.

Semasa sesi soal jawab,dapat dilihat bagaimana mereka di Singapura cukup cemburu dengan demokrasi kita yang semakin matang.

Pascaskrip: Sepuluh hari sebelum Lelaki Komunis Terakhir dijadual ditayangkan di pawagam, Kementerian Hal Ehwal Dalam Negeri mengeluarkan arahan melarang tayangannya.

12 Comments:

Blogger dreamer idiot said...

Yes, it is also from those who lay on the margins of soceity and outside of 'history' where we can begin to explore and chart a more complex and deeper understanding of who we are: who we were and how we become who we are.

Dear Amir, though you may not be appreciated by the majority, you are playing the very same part that you seek to explore in your movie, that is from the margin of our 'story' - the Malaysian stories. Cheers.

11:21 pm  
Blogger endroo G said...

Majulah Filem Untuk Negara.

12:05 am  
Blogger Ash said...

So sayang we cannot watch this movie, I would have love to see it. I still don't get it. I think the CB should let us decide for ourselves. Movie goers in Malaysia are not budak2 lah! Congrats to Amir though...

9:42 am  
Anonymous siew eng said...

positively one of the few reports in the malay papers that do not create ill-will in me.

9:43 am  
Blogger Sivasothi said...

Dear Amir,

as a Singaporean who watched your film during the film festival here, I must thank you for your many affectionate scenes of Malaysia. Your title suggests a very different content matter but I was just as fascinated by your actual study - a road trip into rural Malaysia by a KL-boy. I visited many of these places in search of otters in the early 90's and the scenes were a reminiscent journey.

It was also very pointed that scenes of Malaysia today were captured in such a way; these are "the people history ignores." Some of us are trying to catch some of this aspects or Singapore at yesterday.sg, a blog site for heritage and museums. So when i watched your film, I enjoyed it immensely! Immediately I thought of sending this to friends and relatives residing or studying overseas and to former visitors to Malaysia!

When is the DVD coming out?

One point did bother me - some students of history, now well detached from events of the time, may feel compensatorily generous towards the communists. It's hard to relive the physical threat that the communist posed to and carried out on many. The fears of many are typically not as well documented as other aspects.

I did feel the retired reds were treated quite sympathetically, and wondered if that was naive. Others who actually lived through that time might have found it hard to stomach. So I wondered.

However, at the SFF screening, I understood from your comments that behind your enthusiasm lay a specific focus and you were well aware of the grim truths of history. It was a comforting point which allowed me to get enthusiastic about your film and its focus.

History, I suppose, is not learnt by a single documentary or book and each morsel will add to the canvas of our understanding.

I was surprised that I felt that way, so I thought you'd like to know. Thanks for the film and the thoughts it provoked!

2:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my uncles has been branded as "lelaki melayu komunis terakhir of bukit kepong" many years ago. a real pain to our family. tapi sebenarnya, dia bukan seperti yang di maksudkan.. tak ada siapa yang mengambil tahu hal perjuangan sebenar dia.. in the 'bukit kepong' movie by mr jins samsuddin, his name was mentioned. in few utusan articles too.. but he's NOT A BAD person. anyway, looking forward to get a copy of your movie.. where can i get it?

3:50 pm  
Blogger Hiker said...

This Tahir fella quite racist. Didnt quite feel comfortable about his comment on "...the Chinese having the edge because they were placed in cities during the Emergency".

Below an excerpt from by Caroline Elkins' "Why Malaya is no model for Iraq"

It was, though, Britain's creation of barbed-wire villages that took the heaviest toll. Nearly the entire Chinese population of 400,000 to 500,000 were forced from their homes and were resettled into some 400 heavily guarded barbed-wire villages. They were deprived of all civil rights, and they endured great physical and emotional abuse. One journalist described how the British police routinely resorted to brutality: "To many of these sergeants, every Chinese was a bandit or a potential bandit, and there was only one treatment for them; they were to be 'bashed around.'" Villagers like Tham, who survived the Batang Kali massacre, endured years of abuse and hardship before submitting to colonial control. As in other parts of Britain's empire, it was the stick, not the carrot, that eventually broke civilian support for the insurgency.

source: http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20051219&s=e

Mr. Tahir, stop using the faculty of intelligence based on skewed and bias resources. It will only make you a lesser man.

What benefits do we get by "disliking" one another?

Why do we even live and struggle to survive, when all we do is to hate the other person who lives opposite us?

Why do we need to wake up everyday, telling ourselves that we have to hate and discriminate against anyone who is not of the same faith and culture?

All these will only make the country weaker. Why be weak when we can be strong?

Will a mother pushes her child away, when the child wants to be loved?

Is not Malaysia, our dear Mother?

Isnt she a Mother for all Malaysians?

Mr. Tahir, please reflect on your resources. Mother Malaysia needs you to tell it right. She needs you now.

regards,
a sad Malaysian

10:27 am  
Blogger Hiker said...

To those who are unsure of the "real" role of the British and the communists in Malaya, I suggest you go read this short article of the White Devils:

"....The war against Malayan bandits is very much a defence of the rubber industry."

regards,
a Malaysian of the 1957 spirit

*to think, use your intelligence.
*to stop thinking, use your heart

10:36 am  
Blogger Hiker said...

http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/article.php?article_id=333

10:36 am  
Anonymous Siew Eng said...

hiker, i think you may have misjudged the writer. he doesn't ignore the unease and controversy the film has created, even plays the role of the devil's advocate a bit, but - highly unusual in a malay paper - also tries to understand and impart the filmmaker's intention. perhaps that part you pointed out is questionable, but i think overall it's a pretty fair article that appeals to cooler heads, may even calm down some hot heads.

btw, your view on life is profound! will try to love my neighbours (ewww!).

8:16 pm  
Blogger Hiker said...

Siew eng,

The writer can be as good as his/ her thoughts. Simple, what he/ she writes come from how he/ she thinks or what he/ she has been thought.

That paragraph where he mentioned that the Chinese were "lucky" because they were sent to the new villages. Today, the geographical fact that may be a consequence of that event but it is by no means, an "opportunity". Nobody appreciates it when they are asked to leave their homes to move into barbed wire camps.

I am a strong advocate of history. As a matter of fact, I believe history exists for a reason. Its there for us to learn. We learn from the past.

Thus regardless, of which ethnic group the writer may be targeting, as long as history is twisted or simply thrown under a different light, I resent.

The writer is responsible for the minds and perceptions of thousands of readers. Amir is being responsible. He made a film about what Malaysia truly is, for the entire world to see.

Imagine, Mr. Tahir sends out that article of his to the whole world. I'll be very embarassed. The world will laugh at such bigotry mindset.

Siew Eng, I am really interested to learn and understand your definition of "love".

You seem to be struggling with loving thy neighbour.

regards,
hikerr

12:01 pm  
Anonymous Clarissa said...

No doubt the Malayan Chinese suffered much in the Japanese invasion, the communist insurgence, the subtle brutality of the British to all except the elite. I think the dire consequence of it all is that even until this very day, there are some in society who still think that a Chinese, especially a Chinese-speaking Chinese, is a potential communist, though this has become less as China opened its doors to capitalism. I suspect perhaps that the often-used rascist phrase "balik ke China lah" is an unconscious accusation of communist affiliation.

I think perhaps that the problem with that particular sentence in Mr Saiful article might be that he had jumped too quickly to the effect without first explicating on the cause (could be problem of space), though the sentence itself is by no means false. Definitely nobody likes to be herded out of their homes and deprived of their possesions, and then subjected to camp-like internments, like what happened to the American Japanese and European Jews as well during the second world war. And also to countless others. But it might be a little hasty to judge the person a bigot over a summary comment, though I do get hikerr's point in this matter. Am sure the writer has taken note of it.

In a country where race is still a very touchy issue (but I am glad to see that it is now more openly talked about than in the past decade), especially in light of all those controversial with sepet, gubra and now LKT, and also much that had stirred up before that, and the interfaith commission, Muslim converts plus many other events that had taken place, passing remarks have to be carefully weighed and considered.

4:45 pm  

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