'The Chinese movie The New Village, earlier planned for release on Aug 22, has again focused attention on the communists. Snippets of the movie may seem innocuous to some, but the symbolism threaded into the storyline has brought anger to many. In many scenes, the police force was seen used by the government, under the British flag, to force villagers to move into the new villages, oppressing them'
"Why is the The New Village movie hurtful? The depiction of an oppressive police force in the trailer does not help. Although the actors are all Chinese, save for one Mat Salleh to represent the British, the fact that the police in the movie are seen wearing berets with Malay Regiment cap badges can be seen as provocative"
"The New Village is being reviewed again after the trailer was condemned by Umno. Not surprisingly, DAP, including secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, has come to its defence. The fact that more than 8,000 lives were lost in the past does not seem to bother him"
Mr. Lie Shan Lee,KL
A letter I read from the NST's Letter to The Editor, which describes very well how and why The New Villages were formed and how the now much maligned MCA which 'fought for and obtained permission for the new villages to have proper running water, electricity supply, schools, community halls, health clinics and even loans for enterprising individuals" and I think describes perfectly why The New Village film should be banned.
I also think that any form of glorification or portraying the Communist Terrorists in a good light is not acceptable. Led by Chin Peng these Communist terrorists of the the MCP (Malayan Comunist Party) committed mass murders in their failed attempt to achieve their aim of a Communist Malaya.
Please read this letter from the NST by Mr. Lie Shan Lee:
THE echoes from the last shot in the war against communism died long ago. It was a war that lasted from June 1948 until November 1990, with 8,942 lives lost and 810 still missing.
This figure does not take into account the lives lost during the 14-day communist witch-hunt against alleged Japanese informers among the civilian population. An unknown number of civilians were arrested, tortured and forced to stand trial in kangaroo courts.
It also does not include casualties from the internal pogrom that took place between 1960 and 1975 in the communist ranks.
Once in a while, government and veteran associations revisit the atrocities perpetrated by the communists. But most urban Malay-sians have moved on, as many of those who suffered in the hands of the guerillas were either rural Malaysians or relatives of servicemen, either killed or maimed.
The Chinese movie The New Village, earlier planned for release on Aug 22, has again focused attention on the communists. Snippets of the movie may seem innocuous to some, but the symbolism threaded into the storyline has brought anger to many. In many scenes, the police force was seen used by the government, under the British flag, to force villagers to move into the new villages, oppressing them.
The year was 1950. The war against communism had faltered badly. The government was on the losing end in most of the encounters. The enemy had the "support" of the masses. These were mostly Chinese settlers who worked as farmers in isolated locations. Many were at the mercy of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP). They had to provide food to the communists or were forced to join them. If they refused, they were threatened.
Then came Sir Harold Briggs. A keen military man, he took a page out from the long British colonial history. During the Second Boer War, the British had interned the largely Boer people into camps around today's South Africa. This cut off critical supply lines to the rebelling Boers commandos.
Thus was born the Briggs Plan. The plan called for the relocation of 10 per cent of the Malayan population -- about 500,000. While most of those affected by the relocation were Chinese, Malays and Indians were also affected. But because 85 per cent of them were Chinese, the exercise was seen by some as collective punishment against the Chinese for supporting the communists.
MCA, then keen to assist the government in the fight against communism, helped in the relocation. To please the unwilling masses, MCA fought for and obtained permission for the new villages to have proper running water, electricity supply, schools, community halls, health clinics and even loans for enterprising individuals. These were a far cry from the lives that they had left behind.
As the primary concern was for the food not falling into the hands of the guerillas via sympathisers, centralised cooking was conducted and each family received rations according to their needs.
Initially, those affected by the move weren't happy. They had to change their way of life. But for those who had been living in fear during the two years the undeclared war went on, the move to the new villages was heaven sent as there were no more threats.
The unhappy were those who had amassed large properties which they were unwilling to leave behind. Some had children who had joined the guerillas and relocating meant losing contact with them. Others were part of the Min Yuen organisation that supplied rations and information to the communists. But once relocated, the amenities provided by the government slowly won over the support of the villagers.
Ironically, the creation of new villages infuriated some Malays back then as they took this to mean that the government had chosen to take care of the Chinese.
The implementation of the new villages in Malaya in 1950, coupled with the strengthening of the Special Branch of the Malayan police force, were the key elements that helped bring an end to the First Emergency in 1960.
The new villages allowed for better administration by the government. As the unwilling became grateful citizens, support for the guerillas plummeted. Access to better healthcare, education and proper representation allowed Malaysians of Chinese descent to prosper in this land.
The success of new villages in the peninsula was replicated in Sarawak. Several new villages were created in the Kuching and Sibu divisions, worst hit by the communist rebellion by the Indonesian-influenced North Kalimantan Communist Party. While all the new villages in Kuching consisted of Chinese, those in Sibu were for the Ibans.
The new village concept was also co-opted by the Americans in Vietnam as the Strategic Hamlet Programme. While it was initially successful, it deteriorated because of inflexibility in implementation and lack of amenities for settlers. A clearer picture on the differences can be found in the book, Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, by John Nagl, a leading American expert in counter-insurgency warfare.
Why is the The New Village movie hurtful? The depiction of an oppressive police force in the trailer does not help. Although the actors are all Chinese, save for one Mat Salleh to represent the British, the fact that the police in the movie are seen wearing berets with Malay Regiment cap badges can be seen as provocative.
During the first Emergency when the relocation took place, security forces (both police and army) did not retaliate negatively against the populace as they were well aware that their actions had serious repercussions. In fact, the focus back then was to arrest the communists with the hope of rehabilitating them back into society.
Under Q operations, launched by the police, whole units of communists laid down their weapons.
From 1990 until today, the plight of many police and military veterans who served the country so faithfully was a case of out of sight, out of mind. Even when the nation's most decorated soldier, the late Datuk Temenggung PWII (R) Kanang Langkau died, the government's decision to grant him a state funeral was questioned by some.
There were calls for films to highlight the sacrifices of those brave men and women who answered the call of duty. A few years ago, the military produced a series on the accounts of Royal Ranger Regiment, a multiracial unit, in the war against communism, specifically during the Second Insurgency. Sadly, it stopped halfway.
A society that forgets those who served it is one that will never progress beyond the boundaries that it is currently in.
The New Village is being reviewed again after the trailer was condemned by Umno. Not surprisingly, DAP, including secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, has come to its defence. The fact that more than 8,000 lives were lost in the past does not seem to bother him.
The relationship that Khairy Jamaluddin and the rest of the government made with various communist parties worldwide is in line with the government's stance since the 1970s as a neutral nation.
And the diplomatic relationship we have with China today is part of the cause that destroyed the larger portion of political support to the MCP. Besides, China's communists did not kill a single Malaysian, but MCP killed many.
The controversy surrounding The New Village is not racial. Nor is it an attempt to hide history. The fact that the trailer itself was able to infuriate the public must mean something is not right about the movie.
There is a saying that history is written by the winner. But the winner in this history is not Malay or Chinese, but Malaysians.
Malaysians who moved into these new villages, persevered by creating the best out of a bad situation, holding out their hand to fellow Malaysians, regardless of race, colour, creed and religion.
Liew Shan Lee, Kuala Lumpur