LAST week, newspaper headlines — Utusan Malaysia, in particular — were ablaze with red terror. The spectre of communism seemed poised to return to our lands, especially against a backdrop of calls to allow former Public Enemy No 1, Chin Peng, to return.
These calls, most notably from Penang Gerakan chairperson Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan, followed Chin Peng’s failed bid to return to Malaysia. Government politicians and former police officers reacted strongly to such clemency. On 26 May 2009, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, speaking on behalf of the Malaysian armed forces, said, “We strongly object to his return.”
Later, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak stated unequivocally that the Malaysian government would not allow Chin Peng to reside within our borders.
Chin Peng is the only remaining Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) member who has not been allowed back into Malaysia. Other figures, such as Shamsiah Fakeh and CPM 10th Regiment leader Abdullah CD, have made visible appearances inside Malaysia following the signing of the 2 Dec 1989 peace accords in Haadyai, Thailand.
On 29 May, former Umno politician Datuk Zaid Ibrahim asked whether Chin Peng would be treated with equal hostility if he were Malay. “Let us not divide the rakyat by creating new enemies … he is Malayan. Chin Peng is now old. It is impossible for him to create trouble anymore,” Zaid wrote in his blog.
Behind Chin Peng’s return is a bigger issue: the acknowledgement of communism’s place in Malaysian history. Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim warned against the “soft sell” of communism by blogs, calling on citizens to “not to be too eager to follow these so-called new ideas about Chin Peng and communism brought by such revisionists.”
Academics have weighed in. Historian Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim, argued on 28 May that Chin Peng was really a British national. Khoo makes no mention of his counterpart Dr Cheah Boon Kheng, who argued in 2007 that the communists’ role in the fight for independence had been acknowledged by no less than Malaysia’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.
With all the noise in the past few weeks, it appears that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government is intolerant of any attempt to consider the CPM’s place in Malaysian history in the struggle towards independence from the British.
It is perhaps interesting to note that while the CPM is now toothless, the state apparatuses that battled them — the Internal Security Act (ISA), restrictive media laws, and indiscriminate arrests — are still being used against Malaysian citizens. And they are being used by no less than a BN government that is apparently trying to prevent the terror of communism from returning.
Since Chin Peng — and, by extension, communism — is such a divisive topic, we would like you, dear readers, to give us your six words on the issue. Was Chin Peng a true-blood Malayan freedom fighter? Was he a vile communist terrorist? Could he have possibly been both?
Here are some from The Nut Graph to get the ball rolling. Additionally, if you have any suggestions for what our next Six Words should be on, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Face tribunal on crimes against humanity.
No forgiveness, no humanity, violence continues.
Keep him out. Keep hate alive.
Return or not, the wounds remain.
The living speaking for the dead.
Let’s ban Japanese tourists as well.
Even Tunku acknowledged CPM’s pivotal role.
Why persecute him for his ideology?
Persecuted because of different political ideology.
Siapa takut komunis zaman kapitalis ini?
So, no Chin Peng: The Musical?
Too young to remember Chin Peng.
Apparently communism’s worse than race-based politics.
What about the 1989 peace accords?
No to another McCarthy communist witch-hunt.
Stalin. Pol Pot. Chin Peng. No!
Che Guevara T-shirt got confiscated today …
The Nut Graph doesn’t support communism.
Inspired by Ernest Hemingway‘s genius, the Six Words On… section challenges readers to give us their comments about a current issue, contemporary personality or significant event in just six words. The idea is to get readers engaged in an issue that The Nut Graph identifies, while having fun and being creatively disciplined.