Sunday, May 24, 2009

Here is a link that the readers should go to

Chin Peng is caught in the past — Ooi Kee Beng

MAY 23 — The final attempt by the 85-year-old former leader of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), Chin Peng, to gain the right to return to Malaysia was quashed on April 30 by the Federal Court.

His failure to produce his birth certificate was used as sufficient reason to deny his appeal.

The legal technicalities involved in stopping him from entering the country are interestingly not the most significant theme in this saga. His failure nevertheless injects disturbing elements from the past into contemporary Malaysian consciousness.

Many see no danger in allowing the old man to return from his place of exile in Bangkok to his place of birth in Sitiawan, Perak, where many of his relatives live, but others, including the federal authorities, refuse to forget the violence perpetrated by the MCP during the birth of the nation.

The official stand is taken despite the peace agreement signed between the MCP and government on Dec 2, 1989, stating that party members who were of Malaysian origin should be allowed to settle in the country if they wished to do so.

Chin Peng’s mistake was that he did not take up then Premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on that offer immediately.

Much of the reluctance to allow him to return stem from challenges that are embodied in Chin Peng’s very existence, to official discourses about the origins of Malaysian independence.

Firstly, communists such as Chin Peng (real name Ong Boon Hua) were practically the only Malayans fighting the Japanese invaders during World War II. They did it with material and logistical support from British defenders who had recently so hastily abandoned their colonies in Southeast Asia.

Chin Peng is therefore a reminder of a fractious time when the Japanese were seen as invaders by some but as liberators of Malaya from British control by others.

The portrayal of communists as terrorists was therefore a narrative device that served to depict British colonialists as defenders of decent government, protectors of the public and willing participants in bringing independence to Malaya, in the final days of their empire.

Willing participants in this project where the local population was concerned — once the communists had been dismissed by British commissioner-general in Southeast Asia Malcolm McDonald as “alien forces acting under alien instructions” — were solely conservative parties such as Umno and the MCA.

Indeed, the forming of the MCA in 1949 was a measure deemed necessary by the British and by Chinese Malayan leaders to draw rural support away from the communists after the former decided on guerilla warfare against their erstwhile brothers-in-arms.

Chin Peng’s continued intrusion into Malaysian consciousness also conjure discomforting images of a time when the fire of nationalism throughout the colonised world was inextricably alloyed with the promise of liberation from the colonial yoke and the building of a paradise based on economic equality and social justice without regard for national borders.


Had the communists of pre-independence Malaya not be perceived as aliens with an agenda countervailing against the nationalism of the conservative parties of the alliance — to whom independence was finally given by the British — then the whole understanding of Malaysian history would have to be revised.

That will not doubt make Malaysia’s history more interesting, but that would also challenge the narrower narratives that we have grown contented with.

Admitting the full mix of passions in the twilight years of British might, and the blend of aspirations found among peoples filled with the vision that they could finally escape colonial control, would allow us today to entertain ideas that are not so strongly nationalistic, ethnocentric or parochial.

A proper study of the post-war period would also reveal a high level of economic duress among urban and rural Malayans. This would go some way towards explaining the officially-assumed political disinterest among most non-Malay Malayans of that time in the process of Merdeka.

The race-based nature of Malaysia’s official history is largely a result of the depiction of the MCP as an alien force that carried little significance in the ideological dynamics of Merdeka.

Through a concentration on the racial nature of major parties, which also avoided the fact that non-conservative parties were not included in negotiations with the British, the conceptual space for race politics was advertently enlarged.

Precisely through the branding of class struggle on the national stage as a sideshow, Merdeka basically became an ethnocentric struggle that has informed Malaysian political thought every since.

Permitting Chin Peng to return would amount to an admission by officialdom that he and his buddies were part of the struggles of the immediate post-war period, and that the left-right political dimension that consumed world politics during that age — which was a major motivation for the British to orchestrate their withdrawal from the region the way they did — was also very much a part of Malaysian political thought. — Today

Comments (13)Add Comment
written by Joebuddy, May 23, 2009
So said, perhaps the communists may well have played a far more significant role in liberating Malaysia from our colonialists, British, Japanese and then British again. Hooray to Chin Peng.
written by swipenter, May 23, 2009
Chin Peng is part and parcel of this country's struggle against the Japanese and British but he believed in a poltical ideology which was different from the British colonial masters and the aspiring ruling elites who were aiming to take over from the colonial masters in the struggle for independence after WW2. These two forces cannot accept Chin Peng's poltical ideology and so began labelling them as evil and "alien force" and all their fight and struggle against the Japanese and then the British colonialists were part and parcel of a larger plot to conquer Malaya for themselves. Times were different then but to paint him as a personification of evil is not correct and an anomaly.

My mother used to tell us stories of WW2 in her small town in Perak and how the Chin Peng and his men and women fought and protected the villagers from the Japanese soldiers and how these men and women were totured and later beheaded when caught by the latter in order to teach the villagers a lesson not go against them. You will never find this kind of stories in our history books.

Chin Peng is not caught in the past. It is those who opposed his return to his country of birth who are caught in the past.
written by Mighty Shocked, May 23, 2009
If anyone in Malaysia and S E Asia are to read the History of the British in Malaya/Singapore during the Japanese Invasions and Occupation of region will realise right way that Chin Peng was a strong ally of the British Armed Forces in MPAJA___The Malayan People 's Anti-Japanese Army of Liberation of de region.Shortly after the WWII with the Japanese Surrender he was awarded the King's Victoria Cross for Valour in Action in Malaysia,with his March Past with clenched fist salute !The MCP position was that the British didn't honor its obligation for them to share in the Malayan Government and that started the Communist Insurgency Warfare where High Commissioner of Britain Henry Gurney was killed as the UK Representative.

Objective History and Justice should have honored his Return to Sitiawan,Perak,after all he has repudiated and recanted his Communist Ideology of Violent Overthrow of Government!
Mighty Shocked to put it mildly if you were a leading participant in the defence of say the White Cliffs of Dover and thereafter you are banned from setting foot into the foothills of Dover is really the height of injustice and tortiously wronged !

written by cty, May 23, 2009
MCP as liberators of Malaya, not likely. MCP was formed to bring Malaya into the brotherhood of communism. Malaya, as in Indochina and Latin America were the battlegrounds in the war between capitalism and communalism. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed for an idealogy which disintegrated in the 90s. Their deaths in vain. There are only winners in war and Chin Peng lost. The lost of right to return in life as he wanted to die here, can be compensated in death. His comrades can spread his ashes around Sitiawan. In death he returns.
written by wan zaharizan, May 23, 2009
Many have the believe that the Communist were the heroes of the independence. It is misleading. Being the grandson of Wahi Anuar the idealism of communist during the pre independence were cluttered. The communist party was founded in 1931 but if you read Abdullah CD book and another book written by an Englishman you notice that communist idealogy reach our shore in 1928.

Nobody ask why were the chinese in Malaya embrace communism(although not all) and embrace them wholeheartedly. The point was many Chinese regard themselves as transient migrators. They were transient immigrants thus their adherent were Mother China. These Chinese who live in the suburban and rural Malaya were supporters of Communist China which were then fighting the Koumitang.

Chin Peng receive his indoctrination about communism from Chinese School and until now the Chinese School are where many leftist idea develop. Do please read the book by Chin Peng. No doubt there are Malays who join the party unwittingly but as my grandfather say they fought a common enemy and it is their hatred to the British that drove many of the Malays to join forces with the Communist. No doubt among them manage to be converted but many were just pure leftist.

Just like the MPAJA was a fighting unit created by the British where the infantry's comprise mostly communist and lead by Chin Peng we can see and deduce even then that Communist were hell bent in arm insurgence and therefore can be regarded as terrorist just like Al Qaeda, IRA or even Japanese Red Army where government must change by force and not democratic means. This was their Mantra and clearly amplified after the Baling talk 1955.

It might pain the writer to acknowledge as such but that is the truth and I maintain they have no idea on how to run a country like Malaya and until the Hadyai agreement they still receive instruction from Communist China and we could safely say the party is just a wing of the Communist Party of China!

But I do maintain that they were Merdeka warriors but definitely not their heroes. And because of humanitarian ground alone he should be given the right to return to his country of birth.
written by AliBaba, May 23, 2009
As a Malaysian Citizen, he should be allowed to return. But he should face justice for the crimes he commited against other malaysians.
written by rage against the machine, May 23, 2009
he didnt fought for his country he fought for his idealogy
written by Col Zaki Raine (Rtd), May 23, 2009
I still remember the peace agreement and CPM agreed to " layoff arm struggle"
held at Garden Hotel, Hadyai , Thailand in 1989. One must remember, CPM only agreed "layoff arm struggle" but not their political belief. In the Red Book by Chairman Mao said that Communist Political Struggle and Belief never end and TIME will come. There are families of few thousand innocent civilian been murdered by CPM and hundreds of soldiers been killed by CPM still fresh in their mind. I myself lost quite a number fellow officers and soldiers during Communist Insurgency Operations. 350,000 Ex Service Men will not be happy and retaliation is imminent.
written by superyoga, May 23, 2009
If the terrorist held under ISA can be released why not Chin Peng?

He is an old man and communist are no more a threat to Malaysia.No one will support Uncle Chin Peng because we do not believe in Communism. it is the Political Masters UMNO who wants to punish the Chinese and Uncle Chin Peng is a Chinese - to tell the Malaysian Chinese not to play with fire and this is the countries for the Malays.

Do not get me wrong, I have Malay friends but I hat UMNO and their cronies for misuing the power and yet praying to Allah every Friday. How hypocritical!!!
written by tanmankuan, May 23, 2009
Leaving aside the politics of the merits and demerits of Chin Peng's past, his "request" to return to his homeland should be based on what was agreed at the peace agreement signed between the government and Chin Peng. In this case the Malaysian government has reneged on its commitment to allow him to return home. Not being able to produce his birth certificate ( It was confiscated by the government anyway) to prove that he was born in Malaya is one very lame excuse to deny him his rights to return.In this case Chin Peng has been very obviously played out and betrayed by the Malaysian government.

For those who feel that he should not be allowed to return because of their relatives and friends who were killed or maimed during the war, they are just being emotional. While that may be understandable, they should also not forget the casualties and brutalities suffered by those on the other side or alleged to be on the other side as well. Sadly, which armed conflict is without its casualties and victims? It is what was agreed after the conflict that matters. Lets be fair, even if we cannot be forgiving.

written by watever, May 23, 2009
For humanitarian reason for those fighters who lost their lives, family members, friends fighting CMP, CP is better of where he is now..

For those who sympathize with CP, I think you better weight in more your sympathies to those who suffer for CMP atrocities.
written by Abdul 'Afuw, May 23, 2009
Remember the nenek who was trapped in Korea for so many decades? She, too, didn't have birth certificate or any document to prove that she was Malaysian. Of course, her children could vouch for her. But so can Chin Peng's relatives, I would think. Our Foreign Ministry granted the nenek special dispensation in respect of the documents and Puteri Umno rushed to Korea to see her.

My point is, if the govt says that a person who can's produce documents to prove his Malaysian citizenship cannot be allowed to 'return', they are lying because in the case of the nenek in Korea, the government very clearly showed that it can allow it to happen if it WANTS to. So, stop hiding behind the 'law' and tell the truth that the government does not allow former communist party members to return. But then, the government will still face a problem because it allowed Shamsiah Fakeh and her China-born and bred children to return as citizens.

Don't get me wrong, I think the nenek should certainly be allowed to return. In fact, she should be helped in this matter. As for Shamsiah Fakeh's children, her son Jamaluddin Ibrahim sounds like a very pleasant, sensible and intelligent man. The ideas he expresses concerning Malaysia are very refreshing and we should all be proud that he is a Malaysian.
Here is another bu in Malay to those who might be interested in the history of Communist in Malaya.


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