What I Did This 55th MERDEKA Day (31/08/2012)
Friday, 31st August, 2012 § Leave a Comment
To celebrate Malaysia’s 55th year of independence, I spent the day watching these on DVD:
Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (The Last Communist) and it’s sort of sequel Apa Khabar Orang Kampung (The Village Radio Show). The former focused on Chin Peng, the last leader of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) and the latter features interviews with the remnants of the mostly Malay-Muslim members of the CPM now living in exile in a small peaceful village in Southern Thailand.
Last Communist is sort of a biographical travelogue of Chin Peng. Amir Muhammad also interviews the current residents of the towns where Chin Peng used to live and operate in when he was the leader of the CPM, some of whom served as guerrillas fighting the British . One interesting interview was with a Mr. Salehuddin, who was literally seduced by a beautiful CPM recruiter.
I must say I enjoyed Apa Khabar Orang Kampung more as I, and I daresay most Malaysians, know next to nothing about the lives of the Malay members of the CPM. I was fascinated with one old survivor who talks about the time how he operated on his paralysed legs himself while in the jungle. It was damnable, he said but it worked. His legs healed!
Despite being unabashedly communist in ideology, they are devout Muslims. There is a mosque in the village and religious classes for their children. They insist they are not traitors but only joined the Party because they wanted the then Malaya to be free from foreign rule be it the Japanese, British or anyone else.
If you don’t like history then both documentaries will bore you. There are hardly any war stories or lurid details of how living in the jungle was like. All they have are experiences of the people who we never read about in the history books and to me that is interesting enough. Lelaki Komunis Terakhir and Apa Khabar Orang Kampung have both been banned by the Malaysian government from general release for being a threat to national security. How interviews of people who served ‘the other side’ over 40 years ago could be a threat to the nation’s security mystifies me but the DVDs are still available so if you ask Amir Muhammad nicely he might sell them to you.
And that’s what I did this Merdeka Day.