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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Sat 24 Feb 2007

"Apa Khabar Orang Kampung"- banned in Malaysia

Category : movies

I watched Amir Muhammad's The Last Communist at the Singapore Film Festival last year. It was a wonderful film! Then I wrote:

"In the last 15 minutes of his 90 minute documentary, he features one of the peace villages in the south of Thailand, close to the Malaysian border. ... the communists we see are leading a restful life off retirement. Their longing for their Malaysian homeland, however, is barely concealed and they talk of travel applications that were returned, unread. ..."

Amir promised the audience that he would to go back to film these ex-Malayan communists in southern Thailand. Most of them were very old and he knew he had to film the sequel soon. While he did not have a romantic view of communism, he wanted to know about them, and share their stories. I could barely wait!

He worked quickly enough it seems, for earlier this month, "Apa Khabar Orang Kampung" premiered at the 57th Berlin Film Festival (like its predecessor) under its English title of "Village People Radio Show".

The Da Huang Pictures film's blog provides a synopsis:

"In the propaganda war against the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), much was made of the fact that the party comprised ethnic Chinese who adopted an atheistic political philosophy. This tactic proved effective as the country was mainly Malay and Muslim. However, a large and influential division of the CPM comprised Malay-Muslims. This documentary is a portrait of life in a tranquil South Thailand village, complete with mosque, where the retired members live in exile. Recollections of the decades-long guerrilla war are interspersed with a fictional Thai radio drama."

The trailer is on YouTube:

Last November, Amir wrote:

"...As Lelaki Komunis Terakhir has been banned in Malaysia, some would wonder about the fate of Apa Khabar Orang Kampung. This is something beyond my control. The people I interviewed are in their late 70s or 80s. At the risk of seeming morbid, it was now or never."

He was right on both counts:

""Apa Khabar Orang Kampung" banned." By Bissme S. The Sun (Malaysia), 22 Feb 2007. See also Amir Muhammad's blog, "Komunis & Kampung".

By sheer coincidence, the person who appears most often in Apa Khabar Orang Kampung, 86-year old Pak Majid, passed away 3 weeks after the interview, the only long one he had ever given. The documentary is dedicated to his memory."

Thanks to Chua Ai Lin on Singapore Heritage for posting the news about the ban.

Posted at 11:38AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .