Chin Peng deserves his place of rest

M Kulasegaran
Sep 22, 2013

MP SPEAKS I had heard about the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) secretary-general Chin Peng from a young age. For as long as I can remember, Chin Peng has been associated with the town of Sitiawan, but it was his career as a guerrilla fighter drew me to him.

I, too, hail from Sitiawan where I was born a good many years after Chin Peng emerged on the west coast of Perak in 1924. Marxists might disagree, but a sense of geographical solidarity may be just as strong as class solidarity.

I had wanted to meet with Chin Peng since the time I first heard about him. Being from a rubber tapping family, I was drawn to read quite a lot about him and his struggles.

Rubber was the mainstay of the Malayan economy but rubber tappers were poor and communist ideology was sympathetic to those at the bottom of the economic ladder. Hence I had an interest in the fighter who was from my hometown of Sitiawan and in how his career worked out in history.

My curiosity was gratified with the publication of Chin Peng’s memoirs, ‘My Side of History’, which was published in 2003. I devoured the book and remembered striking aspects of the story.

An Ipoh lawyer of my acquaintance, Chan Kok Keong, took up Chin Peng’s application to the Malaysian government to be allowed to return to Malaysia to visit his parents’ graves. Kok Keong arranged for a meet-up in Bangkok in 2009.

Through Kok Keong’s connections, the meeting took place in a famous hotel in the Thai capital in 2009. With episodes in Chin Peng’s memoirs fresh in my memory, the first thing I did when I encountered the man in the flesh as different to the vivid character in the pages of ‘My Side of History’ was to ask about intriguing episodes in the book.

How Chin Peng evaded capture

I asked how he evaded capture by the British and the Japanese while he traveled in Perak in the period between 1939 and during the Second World War (1942-45). He told me his base was in the high hills of Bidor, near Cameron Highlands.

Chin Peng told me that he cycled from his base in the hills of Bidor via rubber plantations to places where he could meet up with fellow guerillas and contacts. He told me almost all the time he was able to avoid detention. Till today, this narrative evokes wonder and awe in him.

I asked about how he had met the British military unit ferried by submarine to link up with officers of the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army on the coast of Perak in 1943. He said the submarine landed in Lumut Kiri.

Even present days Perakians would be hard put to know where Lumut Kiri is. It is a very remote area which is only accessible on foot. Chin Peng said he had cycled to Pantai Remis via rubber plantations and then walked the last few miles to Lumut Kiri to meet with his British military contacts. This wasn’t an easy feat, even if attempted in these days – what more then!

In the Bangkok meeting with him, I sensed Chin Peng’s desire to come back to Malaysia, if only to pay his respects at his parents’ graves which are at the Chinese gravesite in the village of Pundut, in Lumut. Alas, that wish remains unfulfilled.

I have raised in Parliament the 1989 Peace Agreement between the Malaysian government and the CPM. I have argued that the government must be ashamed for not honouring their part of the agreement to allow Chin Peng to return as required by the terms of the peace accord.

Making good on agreements

Now the government’s decision to disallow the internment of his ashes in Pundut compounds the insensibility of the earlier decision to bar his return to the country of his birth.

How can we expect others to abide by the terms of agreement they may make with us if our government violates and refuses to adhere to agreements we have made with others, such as the one we made with the CPM in 1989?

I disagree with communist ideology and abhor the huge loss of life and destruction of property their militant struggle caused in Malaya between 1948 and 1960, and on a lesser scale from 1960 to the conclusion of a peace agreement in 1989.

But I contend that the CPM’s struggle against the Japanese during the latter’s occupation of Malaya was valiant and their resistance to the British colonials after the defeat of the Japanese hastened the grant of independence to Malaya in 1957.

For that reason and also in deference to the terms of the 1989 peace accords, Chin Peng’s ashes should be allowed the courtesy of entry into the country and internment in the place of his wish.


M KULASEGARAN is the DAP MP for Ipoh Barat.

  1. #1 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 22 September 2013 - 12:37 pm

    Why don’t this Chin Peng issue be raised in Parliament tomorrow?

    Maybe Kula and other Sitiawans could organise a memorial service for the late Chin Peng ? That’s the least you could do to remember his contributions towards the independence of this country, politics aside ?

    Or maybe start a petition for a Royal Pardon once and for all ?

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 22 September 2013 - 12:49 pm

    Remember UMNO’s and BN’s ‘Janji di-Tepati’ (Promises Fulfilled) claims ?

    Honour the 1989 Hatyai Peace Treaty by Mahathir’s BN government.

    The country’s honour, dignity and credibility is at stake if the government does not honour its treaties and commitments.

    The government and its leaders should stop making excuses and giving all sorts of ‘justifications’ about not allowing Chin Peng’s ashes to be brought back to be buried beside his parents.

    The war is long over, dammit, move on.

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 22 September 2013 - 1:06 pm

    A week has gone by and that historian Tan Sri Prof Dr Khoo Kay Kim VC (Vice Chancellor not Victoria Cross) has not uttered a single word as is usually expected of him. Maybe he has no views, maybe he is still doing research, maybe he is lost for words. But many will be interested with his analysis.

  4. #4 by pulau_sibu on Sunday, 22 September 2013 - 1:20 pm

    International media said (surprised that he was treated as such a big guy!):-

    He was the last of a breed of Asian anti-colonialist figures that included Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh, Indonesia’s Sukarno, Myanmar’s Aung San and Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihanouk, who died last year. Chin Peng’s distinction was that unlike the others, he didn’t win his struggle.

  5. #5 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Sunday, 22 September 2013 - 3:07 pm

    “Who is Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to talk about whether Chin Peng should be allowed to return or not? Where was he during the war against the Japanese, and later, the British?”- Chang.

  6. #6 by good coolie on Sunday, 22 September 2013 - 4:06 pm

    A balanced article, Mr. Kulasegaran!

    Communism, however was an insidious ideology, hostile to history, religion and culture. The communist dialectics seemed so true to the unsuspecting poor. The Capitalists would have managed the world well enough without such a cancerous growth in the very depth of humanity. It’s a pity that the Communists had to learn the hard way that theirs was a chimerical ideology based on risible dialectics.

    Chin Peng’s ashes must be brought back to his beloved home town and his ancestors. Osama’s body should have been released to his family, even if his torn body could have caused a terrorist backlash. The matter of principle involved is the respect one should have for the dead and their kith and kin. Forgiveness? UMNO politicians proudly and shamelessly proclaim that they are unforgiving!

  7. #7 by on cheng on Sunday, 22 September 2013 - 4:29 pm

    Since Chin Peng is so very dangerous, maybe the current govt, should go ahead and enact a law to
    a). Ban the use of name Chin Peng in all Chinese baby in Malaysia, fine up to RM2,000 may be imposed
    b). Anyone who print, publish or use this name may also be fined up to RM900
    c). Set up 24 hour (day) 365 days (year), minimum of 250 fully armed soldiers at all times at any one of these places, full alert at all Malaysia-Thai land border checks, KLIA, Langkawi Port, Penang airport etc. Post large posters at all these places warning agianst the smuggle in of C.P. ashes !
    May be fined RM2,000, or jailed for 2 months etc
    Any other precautions deemed necessary

  8. #8 by undertaker888 on Sunday, 22 September 2013 - 5:15 pm

    These retards allowed the Malaysian terrorist who caused mayhem in Indonesia to be buried in this country but not Chin Peng.

    The only way this country can progress is by kicking out BN and Umno Baru.

  9. #9 by pulau_sibu on Sunday, 22 September 2013 - 10:22 pm

    Where is the Mongolian woman buried? Let’s bury her ash in boleland.

  10. #10 by Cinapek on Monday, 23 September 2013 - 12:47 am

    “….How can we expect others to abide by the terms of agreement they may make with us if our government violates and refuses to adhere to agreements we have made with others, such as the one we made with the CPM in 1989?…”

    Singapore, BEWARE!! The contracts you signed with Malaysia in recent years are not worth the paper they are printed on.

  11. #11 by Noble House on Monday, 23 September 2013 - 2:08 am

    Was his death on September 16th coincidental? Or was it destined to be by the grace of God Almighty? Apparently, the day he died has also become a problem to some in UMNO. What can we speak of these people then?

    How Chin Peng will be judged shall come from history – not UMNO!

    Rest in peace, my friend. Your wishes have been fulfilled, albeit not the way you would have hoped for.

  12. #12 by boh-liao on Monday, 23 September 2013 - 8:24 am

    CP died on 16 September
    LKY’s birthday is on 16 September
    M’sia formed on 16 September
    What else?

  13. #13 by Bigjoe on Monday, 23 September 2013 - 8:32 am

    If a Senior DAP leader and an Indian one in this country think arguing with UMNO about a non-Malay right that they are vitriolic about, no matter how senseless, petty and wrong, is making good sense, then he has his own problem.

    The truth is the question to ask really is if the Malays let their leaders behave so petty, lying and unforgiving – someday when they need others NOT to be petty and forgiving, there will be at least just as many who will not do it. If they let their leaders use so little and small as reason and arguments, then its likely that what they will always have is little and small.

  14. #14 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Monday, 23 September 2013 - 8:54 am

    Umno is working hard to turn an ex-com head into a martyr.

    Whatever the heck for, umno?

  15. #15 by on cheng on Monday, 23 September 2013 - 3:32 pm

    So how to really prevent CP ashes from coming back to Malaysia??
    Do one need to set up ashes examination counters/clinics at all points of entry, how does one tell whether a heap of human ashes belong to A or B or C or even whether the ashes is indeed human ashes??
    How to really prevent?

  16. #16 by boh-liao on Monday, 23 September 2013 - 3:57 pm

    Smell, taste d ashes lor
    Can do DNA test or not aaah?

    Dis obsession of “Operasi Prevent Ashes 2 Ashes” gives UmnoB kaki another opportunity 2 get fatter n filthy rich
    Some1 or a few well connected kaki will get d big fat contract 2 patrol d borders n entry points 2 stop commi fr charging d ashes across d border

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