Malaysia's Ministry of Home Affairs has banned the release ofAmir Muhammad's The Last Communist,about former Communist leader Chin Peng, over-ruling an earlier decision of theFilm Censorship Board which passed the film uncut last month.

According to a spokespersonof Red Films, the co-producer and distributor of the film, the ministry issuedthe company a letter last Friday to ban the film "in the interest of thepublic" with no further details given. It has since filed an appeal to the ministry.

The digital film, which premieredat the Berlin film festival in February, was originally scheduledto open on May 18 on three digital screens through Golden Screen Cinemas.

In response to the ban,Muhammad today writes in his blog that he knows "the subject of communism istaboo in Malaysia" and "it is not a propaganda film".

In his words, the film is "asemi-musical road movie documentary tracing the towns in which Chin Peng(exiled leader of the banned Communist Party of Malaya) lived... It does notinclude any interviews with, or even photographs of, Chin Peng himself. Thedocumentary features interviews with people who live in those same present-daytowns".

Muhammad, a pioneeringMalaysian film-maker, is currently attending the Los Angeles Asian Pacific FilmFestival where The Last Communist is beingscreened. Following its Berlinpremiere, the film has been invited to 14 international film festivals.

Meanwhile, the film willopen in neighbouring Singapore this Thursday through Cathay. It was passed clean with a PG rating by the Singapore censors when it was screened during the SingaporeInternational Film Festival last month.