Absent without Leave

by LAU Kek-huat

They sacrificed their lives fighting for the independence of their country, but their stories remain untold for 60 years.

The story begins with a man’s portrait, which has been hanging for more than 30 years in an old wooden house where I was born and grew up in Perak, Malaysia. It’s long become a taboo that my families do not talk about this man, not even to bring up his name or his past. Eventually I found out he is my grandfather, who sacrificed his life fighting for Malaysia’s independence and decolonisation, but his and his comrades’ stories are excluded from history. This documentary set out to unveil the mysteries.


2016 Busan International Film Festival - Wide Angel: Documentary Competition
2016 Singapore International Film Festival - Audience Choice Award
2016 Taipei Film Festival


Running Time: 83 mins
Year of Completion: 2016
Director: LAU Kek-huat


LAU Kek-huat

LAU Kek-huat was born and brought up in Malaysia. He worked as a primary school teacher for four years in Singapore before pursuing a degree in film directing at National Taiwan University of Arts in 2006. He has won two Best Short Film Awards and one Best Director Award at Golden Harvest Awards. His first narrative feature script, A Very Long Wait of Boluomi Ripe, depicting his own family story, won the Excellent Screenplay Award in Taiwan.



After obtaining a master’s degree in Creative Producing at the Italian National Film Academy, Stefano CENTINI gained professional experience as a writer and producer for international broadcasters. He then completed a second master’s degree in Chinese Language and Culture at the INALCO in Paris. After moving to Taiwan, he enrolled at National Taiwan University of Arts for a master’s in television studies. He now lives in Taipei where he works as a director/producer of documentaries for Discovery Channel, CCTV, and AETN.