The Malayan Communist Party (MCP) – a taboo topic. But is it a necessary taboo?
The Malaysian government recently banned Absent Without Leave, a documentary film on exactly that topic, just like they did to New Village 新村, another film that tried to cast light on the seldom heard plight of the Communist fighters of Malaya during WWII and post-WWII. Absent Without Leave retells the manifesto and motif of the Malayan Communist Party as well as the fabricated conflict they had with the British imperialist system, coming directly from the mouths of the former rebels themselves.
The suppression of the film by Malaysian authorities due to its alleged taboo-nature, and the controversy of actually telling a story from the side of the Communists (for once!), has led Hummingbird Productions, the producers of the film, to make the film available online for free streaming (only in Malaysian territories). It’s officially begun screening, and will end on 5 March ‘17. The provocative documentary is director Lau Kek-Huat’s debut feature film. Watch the trailer below:
Absent Without Leave gives context to this removed part of Malaysian history while educating people on the country’s tragic past, diminishing the idea that the MCP were mobs of angry, violent, pigheaded people, as we might have perceived them to be due to propaganda that demonised them as ‘the Boogieman’ (you know, you’re typical Sejarah class in high school).
The film unearths the narrative of director Lau Kek-Huat as he discovers his lineage to his grandfather (a former MCP member who was killed by the British). Lau’s luminous and insightful measures dive deeper into his heritage, unravelling his grandfather’s forgotten story. To date, the film has competed in the international selection of Busan Film Festival Wide Angle and won the Audience Choice Award at Singapore International Film Festival.
Calling to mind The Act of Killing (the Indonesian feature documentary that caused mass discomfort to the nation when exposing the details of Suharto’s genocide squads that operated under the guise of combating Communism in 1965-66), Absent Without Leave is just as important a film to watch as anything else that comes out from Malaysia. At least for the sake of closure.
Watch the full film in four parts here: