Aidila Razak Sep 20, 2013 VIDEO | 4:28 mins
A wreath of orchids from Thai princess ChulabhornWalailakplaced in front of the coffin of former CPM leader Chin Peng tells a story the Malaysian government is not likely to agree with.
In Wat That Thong, one of the more famous temples in Bangkok, it is this story that retired Thai generals, who came to pay their respects to Chin Peng this afternoon, will remember him by.
According to retired general Kitti Rattanachaya (left), who was given the honour of spraying holy water on Chin Peng’s body before it was placed in the coffin,Chin Peng should be remembered as a hero, not as a terrorist.
Through signing the Hatyai Peace Agreement of 1989, Kitti said, Chin Peng “played a key role in maintaining peace” along the Thai-Malaysian border.
“He fought for the independence of his country, just like (Vietnam leader) Ho Chi Minh, but he did not succeed.
“It is proper to allow his ashes to be returned to Malaysia. Forgive and forget, let bygones be bygones. Once someone dies, everything is finished,” Kitti told members of the media.
As a former military man who led troops against the CPM guerillas, he said, he viewed Chin Peng – who spent a third of his life in exile in Thailand – as an elder brother.
“(The Malaysian position) is just politics. When a peace agreement is signed, there is no longer animosity,” Kitti said, stressing that this was his personal view and not that of the Thai government.
Forgiveness the only solution
Agreeing with him, Akanit Muansawad, a general who retired from the Thai army last year, said that for him, forgiveness was the only way to bring peace.
As the first Thai army officer to broker talks with Chin Peng in August 1973, Akanit said he made the decision to do after losing many of his men.
“I was a captain then and in one year, I lost 50 soldiers – 30 died and 20 were wounded. I got malaria 13 times from going in and out of the jungle.
“I forgave because I couldn’t see any other way to solve the problem,” Akanit (right) said.
The princess’ wreath was just one of many in memory of Chin Peng today.
Among them was a wreath of yellow flowers from his children, with a message simply reading: “In loving memory of our dear father.”
Of the 50-odd family members and friends who came to the quiet and sombre affair today, many were seen in tears.
According to Anas Abdullah, a family friend who helped arrange the wake and funeral, more than 100 former CPM guerilla fighters are expected to pay their respects in the next two days, before Chin Peng’s body is cremated on Monday.
The son of a CPM leader and the son-in-law of one of the oldest surviving Malay CPM members Abdullah CD, Anas said his father-in-law was not able to make the 10-hour drive to Bangkok from the Sukhirin peace village, near Narathiwat.
“But about 10 people from the village will be driving over tomorrow,” Anas said of the village that is home to former 10th Regiment fighters, who are mostly Muslims.
‘Barring Chin Peng’s ashes makes us laughing stock’
Sep 21, 2013
Former inspector-general of police Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor warned that Malaysia will become a laughing stock if the government adamantly refuses to allow Chin Peng’s remains to be brought into the country.
“There is a hue and cry from the public not to even allow his ashes (back into Malaysia). My God… This is stretching the argument a bit too far. It’s a bit naive I think.
“If the government – the authorities – succumb to this public pressure not to allow Chin Peng’s ashes to be brought back, I think, we are making Malaysia a laughing stock to the whole world,” he said in an interview aired on BFM yesterday.
Abdul Rahim, who led the successful peace negotiations on behalf of Malaysia with the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) in the late 1980s, said the refusal to allow Chin Peng into the country, even when he was alive, made a mockery of the 1989 Hatyai Peace Treaty.
The retired top cop, who was then chief of the Malaysian Special Branch, said he had convinced the government at that time to engage in talks with the communists, more than 30 years after the failed 1955 Baling negotiations.
Abdul Rahim said that even though the 12-year Emergency was lifted in 1960, security forces were still battling communist remnants in the 1980s, but the decline of communism in the region was an opportunity for renewed peace negotiations.
At that time, there were still around 2,000 communists along the Malaysian-Thai border, with the two largest groups being the North Malayan Bureau and the 10th Regiment, which comprised largely Malays, he said.
With the backing of then-prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad,Abdul Rahim said, the Special Branch, in secrecy, initiated negotiations with the communists at the end of 1987 and early 1988 on Phuket Island, which lasted for five rounds.
This, he said, culminated in the 1989 peace treaty signed in Hatyai, and comprised two agreements, one containing the core terms and another on administrative details on how the terms would be implemented.
‘Other ex-communist returned, met sultan’
“I was involved in the drafting of both agreements, so I know full well that under the terms of agreements, first of all, the agreements are binding on every CPM member, from the highest, topmost to the bottom, lowest most.
“If you say that Chin Peng as secretary-general of the party (CPM) is the highest-most member, then he qualifies to get all the privileges, advantages or whatever promises made in the agreements, which includes for him to be allowed to come back (to Malaysia),” explained Abdul Rahim.
Furthermore, he said, in the event these former communist members were not allowed to permanently return to Malaysia, they must still be allowed to enter the country on social visits, according to the agreements.
“But in the case of Chin Peng, he was not allowed both. To me, it’s absurd, totally absurd. It’s unfair, grossly unfair…
“There were others (ex-communists) who were allowed to come back and they were mainly Malays. Abdullah CD was allowed to come back to Malaysia and was even given an audience with the current Sultan of Perak.
“Rashid Maidin, I was told, performed his pilgrimage through KL with the help of the Malaysian authorities. What’s all these?” Abdul Rahim said in an exasperated voice.
Abdullah CD was CPM chairperson whileRashid Maidin was a CPM central committee member.
Asked if the fixation of not allowing Chin Peng to return home, even when he is dead, was along racial lines, Abdul Rahim hesitated for a moment, then replied: “I am not prepared to make presumptions like that.”
“As far as Chin Peng’s case is concerned, we created a situation where we made a mockery of the (peace) agreements,” he added.
‘Gov’t turning Chin Peng into an icon’
He warned that the government’s stance in preventing Chin Peng’s ashes from being buried in his hometown in Sitiawan, Perak, was making the ex-communist leader an icon.
“Specifically, I think it is not good for the ruling party, particularly in their attempts post the 13th general election, to win back Chinese Malaysian support,” he said.
The government had justified its decision by declaring that Chin Peng was responsible for the deaths of countless members of the security forces, most of whom were Malays.
Abdul Rahim lamented that the people do not seem to understand the context of the international communist struggle and instead perceive that the over 40 years of communist insurrection in Malaya was “Chin Peng versus the entire government machinery”.
He pointed out that research showed the communist structure was collective in nature and it was not a one-man-show where Chin Peng called all the shots.
“I do not know why it should develop along this line (Chin Peng versus government). The fact is that good or bad - whatever Chin Peng is, the background is a peace treaty had been signed. We got to jolly well honour the terms and conditions,” he said.
Asked by the radio station how he thought history would remember Chin Peng, Abdul Rahim replied: “They (historians) should be able to analyse Chin Peng as a communist leader – his role and his party’s role – in battling the British, in getting rid of the British.
“His role in the peace process – the failure of the Baling talks and the success of the Phuket peace talks leading to the Hatyai Peace Treaty.”
Abdul Rahim has been consistent in wanting the government to uphold the terms of the peace treaty and had made a similar urging during a 2009 interview with Malaysiakini for Chin Peng to be allowed back to Malaysia.
Another senior cop who was also directly involved in combating the communists and was shot by them twice, Yuen Yuet Leng, had similarly urged reconciliation.
Chin Peng passed away on on Sept 16 of cancer, which incidentally was also Malaysia Day.
Chin Peng ‘never regretted his actions’
Sep 20, 2013 VIDEO | 8:00 minsAs far as Anas Abdullah can recall, in the 44 years that he had known former Communist Party of Malaya leader Chin Peng, the latter had never expressed regret for his actions.
“He never felt any regret. What he did was right. Going against colonisers is not wrong,” Anas (right) said when met at Chin Peng’s wake at a Bangkok temple this drizzly morning.
“He had to continue with the insurgency after the Baling Talks because the Tunku (Abdul Rahman Putra) did not allow us to be free.
“CPM members were to report to police stations, like we were criminals. It was unacceptable.”
Eyes glistening, the soft spoken Anas, 56, the son of Regiment 10 leader Abdullah Sudin, said there was no talk of regret even when he last visited the 89-year-old in hospital last week.
“Chin Peng was upbeat and optimistic, and even with a tube attached to his nose, he called out to me. He recognised me and was happy,” he said of the man he called ‘Uncle’.
Although the conversations were short – “He was tired so we didn’t want to wear him out” – on his deathbed, Chin Peng never indicated that he would have taken a different path.
A warm man who liked the harmonica
Remembering his ‘Uncle’ as a warm, accesible person who loved to play the harmonica, Anas travelled from Kampung Sukhirin, in South Thailand, the moment he received the call that Chin Peng was no more.
“I got the call and immediately. I thought, ‘He died at 6.20am on Sept 16. The CPM took up arms on June 20 (1948), and Sept 16 is Malaysia Day.
“We don’t believe in in superstitious things but it is something coincidental,” said Anas, a Malay and a practising Muslim.
The son-in-law of CPM fighter Abdullah CD, Anas first met Chin Peng at the age of 12 and worked alongside Chin Peng at radio station Suara Revolusi Malaya in Chin Peng.
“Sometimes, he would play the harmonica for broadcast.
“He’d come to us and put his arms around us, and invite us for walks together. He was not like what he is made out to be.”
In a picture in his mother-in-law Suriani Abdullah’s memoir, Anas is a moutachioed 32-year-old, the youngest and only surviving member of CPM’s delegation of six in Hatyai
“I had a mustache before, but no longer. It comes out white now,” he said, giggling.
But then his boyish, smiling face clouded over with a sense of sadness: “I’m the only one left now. I’m all alone.”
Breach of peace agreement
More than sad, Anas appeared more disappointed, even angry that the Malaysian government had chosen to treat Chin Peng’s memory the way it has.
As someone who was party to the intial talks and the final peace agreement, Anas said, Malaysia has now cemented its position as a country that does not uphold international agreements.
He said that by raising such a shield against the return of Chin Peng’s remains, Malaysia had breached at least two points of the agreement – to allow all CPM members to return home and not to slander them any more.
Now a Thai citizen Anas said the whole matter has been politicised.
He applied to return to Malaysia in 1989 but was rejected because he could not prove his citizenship. Anas was born in Indonesia and his parents were born in Singapore.
“Now even the prime minister is calling us terrorists… It has become a tool to instigate the Malays…,” he said.
He pointed out that the 1989 peace talks took off because of Abdullah CD‘s long-standing friendship with then deputy prime minister Abdul Ghafar Baba.
Leaders from both sides then had ties that bound them together, he said. However, these things have now been forgotten.
“How do we say who’s punching right or who’s punching wrong in a boxing match? The police attacked us and we attacked them, too.
“We even fought with the Thai soldiers, and some were killed, hurt or maimed. But why is it that the the Thais do not treat us in the same manner (as Malaysians)?”
Let your voices be heard! Know your rights! Speak up!