DESPITE being a signatory to the 1989 tripartite Haadyai Peace Agreement, no official representative from Malaysia attended the 20th anniversary commemorative ceremony held on 30 Nov 2009 in Haadyai, Thailand.
The two other signatories to the accords, the Thai government and the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), were respectively represented by Thai Deputy Interior Minister Thavorn Senneam and former CPM secretary-general Chin Peng.
Malaysia’s absence would reflect badly on its “trustworthiness” as a signatory to the agreement, political analyst James Wong from Strategic Analysis Malaysia said in an immediate reaction. Wong was present as a guest at the ceremony.
“We are a civil society that should know how to honour contracts and agreements. The peace accords were signed in public and documented.
“We should give credit to Malaysia where it’s due, in that it has honoured most of the agreement except for Chin Peng’s return. But by not attending the ceremony, it is as if Malaysia does not take the treaty they signed seriously,” Wong told Malaysian reporters.
The top three government officials invited from Malaysia were Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, and Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan, ceremony organisers said.
Wong said Malaysia could have at the very least sent the ministry’s secretary-general or the deputy IGP.
Invitations to the Malaysian side were issued by the Thai government, said Indra Jaya Abdullah, chairperson of the ceremony organising committee. The event was organised by associates of Chin Peng, including the 21st Century Malaysia Friendship Association, a group founded by former CPM cadres to look after the welfare of resettled ex-guerrillas in Malaysia.
Indra Jaya said the invitations to Malaysian government officials were sent out by the Thai government by way of two letters, one at a government-to-government level, and the other an invitation from Chin Peng’s associates.
The ceremony was held at the Lee Gardens Hotel, where the peace accords were signed 20 years ago on 2 Dec. It was attended by several hundred people, mainly members of the Friendship Association.
Before the event, the association held an assembly where a resolution calling for Chin Peng’s return to Malaysia was passed.
Prevented from returning
Chin Peng, when delivering his speech at the commemorative ceremony later, made another appeal to be allowed to return to his homeland.
“In 1989, all three parties were able to achieve the peace agreement because all sides were sincere and wanted an end to the conflict. There was a spirit of mutual understanding and mutual forgiveness.
“Now, Malaysia is preventing me from returning. This will tarnish the peace accords. I make this appeal, let us forget the past and let us move forward together.
“I am just another human being nearing the end of my life and who wishes to pay his respects to his ancestors,” Chin Peng said.
Before reading his speech, Chin Peng observed a personal minute of silence in memory of those who died on all sides of the armed conflict.
Thai minister Senneam, in his speech, placed on record his government’s efforts in helping former CPM members obtain citizenship and settle in “friendship villages“, which are under the care and patronage of the Thai royal family.
“We have given land and nationality as tangible evidence of real peace,” Senneam said.
The only prominent Malaysian present at the ceremony was Datuk Yau Kong Yew, the former Special Branch deputy director who was a member of the Malaysian team in the peace negotiations.
He declined to comment on the Malaysian government’s absence at the ceremony.
“I have retired and am here in my personal capacity. I am happy to be here because I had a role in putting the peace accord in place. The accords were achieved because there was a sense of forgiveness and willingness to move on. This spirit should continue,” he said.
The Nut Graph needs your support