The controversy over local film The New Village has reflected the different cognition and memories for the country's foundation history between the Malays and the Chinese.
In the history of Peninsula, the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) was one of the participants and it left the Malays a painful memory, including many Malay soldiers were killed or paralysed in the clashes with the CPM.
Meanwhile, the Chinese had an intricate relationship with the CPM during the rule of Japan, as well as the British colonial era.
More specifically, the fear for the CPM of the Malays began in the conflict with the CPM in 1945. In July 1947, the British colonial government declared a state of emergency and after the CPM was banned, its members retreated into the woods and launched a guerilla warfare.
The state of emergency continued until 1960. The whole Peninsula was in war and the British colonial government's strategy was to force the Chinese in rural areas to move into "new villages" outside the CPM's sphere of influence, to cut off the people's supply for the CPM members. The British colonial government also effectively mobilised the Malays to fight against the CPM.
The history explained why Umno and the Malays hate the CPM so much. A series of events after the CPM laid down their arms also showed that history had remained in their minds.
For instance, the application of former CPM secretary-general Chin Peng to return to Malaysia was rejected by the government, with the reason that the return of Chin Peng would trigger dissatisfaction of the people, as well as families of those who were killed or paralysed by CPM members.
In June 2011, 30 members of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) were arrested in Penang for the possession of t-shirts printed with the pictures of CPM leaders and promotional materials suspected to be used to promote the idea of overthrowing the government.
In September 2011, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, who was accused of making the "communist hero" remarks, was criticised for defaming the policemen and their family members who fought the communist guerillas and killed in the Bukit Kepong tragedy on February 23, 1950.
Umno-owned paper Utusan Malaysia quoted Mohamad as saying that the communists who attacked the Bukit Kepong police station during the communist insurgency were heroes. The paper also accused him of praising communism. It caused an uproar and the police received more than a thousand of police reports.
Mohamad Sabu denied that he had praised the communists and instead stressed the need to amend history to recognise the contribution of left-wing independence fighters in fighting the British.
Former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said that one of the five tenets of the Malaysian Declaration of National Philosophy was Believe in God and thus, communism was prohibited in Malaysia and any acts preaching communism will be considered as a violation of law.
Such an ideological war has caused local film The New Village to be accused of praising communism, even though the critics have not yet watched the film, but just its trailer.
The controversy triggered by The New Village has reflected that due to the fate of different racial groups, they have different interpretations for the country's foundation history. In fact, they also hold different views on social restructuring, New Economic Policy (NEC) and the quota system, due to historical factors.
From history, we must understand how other races remember the events and feel how they feel before we can walk out of history and adjust our own thinking to consolidate racial relations.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that the Malaysian society has become too sensitive, it is because we lack mutual understanding. If there is no dialogue, but only clamours, racial relations would only head towards a dead end. - mysinchew.com - July 31, 2013
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.