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“What if Chin Peng was Malay?”

Red smiley face with yellow stars for eyes and a question mark in its mouth

BUKIT MERTAJAM, 29 May 2009: Former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim today asked if former communist guerilla Chin Peng would be treated with as much hostility by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government 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, an ex-Umno veteran, wrote in his blog today.

Zaid admitted that Chin Peng and the other communist guerillas, such as Rashid Maidin and Shamsiah Fakeh, were “cruel”.

However, he said, “Sometimes, a bitter past can only be accepted when we rid ourselves of vengeance and replace it with humanity.”

Zaid gave the example of South Africa’s violent and repressive past with the racist apartheid regime.

“Nevertheless, (President) Nelson Mandela did not want vengeance. Instead, he set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He wanted both black and white [South Africans] to come together and learn the truth of what happened during the apartheid era,” he said.

Zaid also pointed towards Rwanda‘s successful reconciliation efforts between its Hutu and Tutsi population after the 1994 genocide that tore the country apart.

However, Zaid remained doubtful that the Umno-led BN government would attempt to reconcile with Chin Peng and the country’s communist past in this manner.

“They won’t even apologise to the judges who were sacked [in the 1988 judicial crisis]. Do they have it in them to forget Chin Peng’s [past]?” he said.

“[But] I hope even if the government does not want Chin Peng to return, they won’t accuse those who sympathise with his wishes to spend his last days in Malaysia as enemies of the state,” he concluded.

“Not just an old man”

However, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Member of Parliament for Kulim-Bandar Baru, Zulkifli Noordin, expressed diametrically opposite views.

“I object to the suggestion [to allow Chin Peng's return] because this is not merely about an old man who wants to spend his last days in Malaysia. The issue is that Chin Peng brings with him this country’s dark history,” Zulkifli said through an e-mailed statement today.

Zulkifli said that Chin Peng’s victims consisted of Malay, Chinese and Indian Malayans.

“I recall how in the 1970s the communist terrorists behaved, including bombing public places. I saw myself how my father’s friends in the Ipoh Federal Reserve Unit 5 base were shot by communists during their Simpang Pulai posting in the 1970s,” he said.

“To me, those who support his return to this country are either ignorant about history or heartless,” he said.

Zulkifli said that allowing Chin Peng to return to Malaysia would be akin to “urinating on the graves of the fighters and security officers who sacrificed for the country’s peace”.

“I urge the government to do anything at all to stop him from setting foot in this country, and I will give my full support to that stand, insya Allah,” he concluded.

On 20 May, Penang Gerakan chairperson Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan urged the government to allow Chin Peng to return to Malaysia on humanitarian grounds, since he was no more a security threat to the country.

Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim refused to entertain the idea, saying there is “no place for communists in Malaysia”.

At the same time, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has accused certain quarters of trying to “revive” the communist ideology in Malaysia.

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37 Responses to ““What if Chin Peng was Malay?””

  1. 2nd class says:

    Let this old man die in [a] foreign country. Letting him back to Malaysia will not bring any benefit to [Malaysians]. This will only bring more division among [Malaysians]. This [has] nothing to do with reviving the communist ideology but this is giving respect to those [who fought] the [communists] in the past.

  2. Sumat says:

    Chin Peng should wait three more years and reapply.

  3. Joey says:

    Let him return.
    Then try him for war crimes.

  4. Sharil Abak says:

    Perhaps many of us including Mr Zaid did not have loved ones who died because of the atrocities committed by the communists. As a retired police officer, I have witnessed many of my men die by the hands of the communists. I witnessed the wives and children of my men crying helplessly to mourn their husbands and fathers.

    They even swore to seek revenge over the death of their loved ones. They lost their sole breadwinner and had to seek pittance from family and friends in order to carry on with their lives.The children and even some wives of these people are still living. Would we want to reopen the wounds that they have endured all this while?

  5. Kriz says:

    He has a right to return to the land he once fought for. Charge him for war crimes then. The truth has to be known.

  6. Steve McCoy says:

    Nelson Mandela was banished from society and left to rot on Robben Island by the apartheid South African government for his part in the violent struggle against the government. Mandela himself initiated the beginnings of the armed struggle by the ANC in June 1961, and this incidentally, included an alliance with the military wing of the South African Communist Party.

    As President of South Africa, instead of ‘banishing’ perpetrators of violence from the apartheid regime (there were many), Mandela asked the nation to face their dark history in the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Human rights violations by both sides (the apartheid regime as well as those committed by liberating forces including the ANC) were heard, and amnesty granted to many.

    The question for us is who would we prefer to resemble – the apartheid government and their treatment of Mandela or Mandela and his insistence on reconciliation.

    Personally, I’m with Mandela.

  7. Khairil says:

    Whoever supports this Chin Peng is a communist! Plain and simple.

    • Javeed says:

      So, MPAJA struggled for Malaya by causing hardship to the Japanese and then for the British just right off. The British couldn’t stand war with MPAJA/CPM so quickly gave Independence and ran back to their queen. Chin Peng was the unsung hero, I support his return to Malaysia despite my father who was a RAF Pilot and his plane was shot down over the Titiwangsa range. He was further shot in the spine. My father lived and walked with two bullets in his spine his whole life. He laughed when the Malaysian Government didn’t want Chin Peng to return. He then said, that even though Chin Peng is a Communist, and the Communists shot him in the spine and left to die, he would still invite and shake Chin Peng’s hand without any hatred.

      So I remind you, when in times of war, fight, when there is no war, forgive & forget and live in peace. My generations before me are Persian-Satria, over generations we are civilized warriors, we know when to fight and when to forgive.

  8. zainal says:

    We should all just move on…Chin Peng is not important…whether he returns or not…

  9. Ambo Anak Malaysia says:

    Zaid has a point – prominent communists who are of Malay origin have been allowed to come back to Malaysia – Shamsiah Fakeh is one of them…

  10. lucia says:

    How can the return of Chin Peng open wounds or bring back the country’s dark history? If can, already speaking of him now (the debate whether he should return) will open the wounds!

  11. Nicholas Aw says:

    I read with interest your article and also the comment made by Zaid Ibrahim. I believe that Zaid is definitely a God-loving person.

    Whatever our political inclinations are, can’t we learn to forgive and maybe forget? We know what Chin Peng did (how could we forget!) but why can’t we let history be just history and nothing more. We shouldn’t harbour hatred in our hearts. If God can forgive us, why can’t we forgive others? If we are true believers of whatever religion we are practising, then we must be brave enough to allow the return of the prodigal son.

    If we truly forgive others for all the wrongdoings, then obviously this will be a better world to live in. If there is anyone of us here who has not sinned, then let him/her be the first to cast a stone.

    • Javeed says:

      My friend, only truly religious people can forgive even their enemies. That is noble. But these guys are all hypocrites, what do you expect? Chin Peng fought against those who invaded this land. He is a hero compared to Tunku Abdul Rahman and Abdul Razak [...]

  12. awangkassim says:

    Remember 1969? Umno’s view and propaganda is that the riots were started by communist symphatisers along with the DAP. Anything to do with communist was Chinese as China supported the CTs.

    It is the baby boomer generation, indoctrinated half of their lives in racial living, that makes this such a big issue.The X and Y generation does not care a damn. They look to Mandela and Beyonce for inspiration, not Malaya’s history (which is full of half truth ‘facts’).

    • Javeed says:

      Please, May 13th was designed by Datuk Harun from UMNO, to cover up his money swindling case. Go to the case files and read who was one of the instigator who now speaks proudly.

      Similarly to US Foreign Policy: WAG THE DOG – Stir up something that will shadow our own mistakes.

  13. Raymond says:

    I take that all comments have weight. Personal views are personal views. [Even if] I think it is childish [to oppose] his desire to return, then again sentiment [versus some people's] experience needs to be addressed since they faced cruelty towards their loved ones.

    The best solution is to have a heart of forgiving. Religion teaches us that… as in the case of the prophet Moses when he was chosen by The Lord to become a prophet when he had killed a fellow human over an argument. Over time, people change from good to bad and vice verse, all because of survival and [the] needs of the time.

    Anyway, he is already old and only wants his last days [to be] in his birthland. Is that too much to ask for an old man?

  14. Dhanen Mahes says:

    I believe that Chin Peng did terrible things in the name of war. And I think a lot of people today are doing terrible things in this country in the name of peace, democracy, progress and politics.

    It is understandable to be angry, hateful even, of a man that was directly and indirectly responsible for so many deaths and so much suffering.

    But I think the point that Zaid and others are trying to make is this – we need to forgive. If we can’t forgive those who wronged us in the past, what kind of people are we? Vengeful, hateful, people. A people unable to move forward from the pain of the past. A people unable to show the humanity we wished others had shown us so long ago.

    And that makes us no better than them.

  15. radzif says:

    Don’t ever dare to bring Chin Peng home. Youngsters who don’t respect the sacrifice of our ancestors better live outside Malaysia [if you haven't learnt from history].

    • Javeed says:

      Who sacrificed? Who fought for Malaya then, MPAJA. Who marched in the Japanese surrender parade at Selangor Padang, MPAJA/CPM.

      Are you a religious person by the way? If so, forgive a fellow country man who sacrificed their life but also deviated in time. Forgive and forget them and let them live in their home town quietly and die peacefully, Amin.

  16. Fikri Roslan says:

    Chin Peng’s family came to this country during the British illegal occupation. He wanted to expand communism from his motherland China to Malaya at that time. He pretended to fight the British, but in actual case tried to occupy this country through forceful means.

    Anyway, he has no place in this country and he should be sent back to China where his family comes from. After all, his motherland China still practises communism and he will enjoy spending his time in his beloved country. I think he should be given the right [to return to his motherland]. But his motherland is China and not Malaysia.

  17. victor says:

    Doesn’t anyone understand the issue here? An agreement was signed in 1989 allowing Chin Peng and others of Malaysian descent to return. The only snag was that he couldn’t find his birth cert.

    So the issue is not about whether Chin Peng’s return will bring back painful memories. The issue is that the Malaysian government promised this old man and then tries to cheat him out by technicalities like he is not a Malaysian because he doesn’t have his birth cert.

    Grrrrr…………. why is the government so ******?

    • Javeed says:

      For me, he is old and not a threat to Malaysia anymore. Let him come in peace and spend his last days in his own kampung here. Let’s all be Noble and Forgiving. PW Botha and FW de Klerk father of Apartheid is living peacefully in South Africa without any harm from Black Africans and neither do the Whites hate Mandela. So why all the hatred and why can’t Chin Peng be treated the same. Past is past, let bygones be bygones in the museums only. Let’s live for the Future.

  18. ashroff says:

    [Why ask whether] Chin Peng was a Malay? Why does the [writer] want to talk about race? Chin Peng should not be granted entry into Malaysia…pity those who served in the army.

  19. MALAYA RAYA says:

    A big NO to Chin Peng..nothing to do with his race, whether he is Chinese, Malay or Indian…what is so special about him? What is his contribution? He fought for the independence of Malaya? I dont think so…he fought for his ideology, to create a Malayan Chinese communist state.

    • Javeed says:

      It’s not about Communism. When South African denounced Apartheid, all whites and blacks never disrespected PW Botha nor Mandela. It is sure they don’t pray and practice [hypocrisy] the way most Malaysians do. Most Malaysians like to hold on to history and never want it in the museum. That is why only foreigners visit our museums.

  20. Dhanen Mahes says:

    I just had a friend with a history background remark that there were more Malay Malayan communists than there were Chinese. Does anyone have any knowledge/proof of the accuracy of this?

    If it’s true, that really throws a monkey wrench in the whole “Chinese communist” thing, doesn’t it?

  21. Jeffrey says:

    It is really sad that we still cannot forgive something that happened so long ago. The killings happened on both sides of the divide. But we have to move on and it will be good for the spirit and soul to learn to forgive.

  22. Dhanen Mahes says:

    I like the idea of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There is unfortunately very little discussion or investigation into our past. It’s like a blind spot with only a very “sanitised” government version of what happened.

  23. Tan Jin Huat says:

    I have never been sympathetic to the communist cause all my life.

    But in the case of whether to allow Chin Peng back to Malaysia to die peacefully in his old age, it should be a foregone conclusion – not a problem at all. Chin Peng is no longer a threat to the nation.

    Public sympathy is often to say, “Let the old man die in peace.”

    Further, the new generation is not in favour of communism. The changed times do not favour communism as we have witnessed in the Indian elections when the Communist Party was soundly trounced.

    However, I am deeply disappointed that BN seems to be trying to create a division among Malay and Chinese [Malaysians]. If the BN had allowed Chin Peng to return, its credibility will go up several notches in the poll of public opinion. Now BN is seen as having practised double standards, allowing Malay [Malaysian] communists such as Rashid Maidin to return. It further damages BN’s image; that of being racist. A lost golden opportunity for BN indeed!

    What is sad is that of all people, Rais Yatim should lead the way in the objection of Chin Peng. My high personal respect for him is now lost.

  24. Just thinking says:

    How about the Japanese? We suffered a lot during the Japanese invasion and occupation.

  25. wazuma says:

    Supposedly, he was not allowed in because some people are still hurting from what the communists did.

    My grandmother, when she was still alive, would chastise us for buying Japanese goods because she was still hurting from what the Japanese did during World War 2. But we welcomed them with open arms, even had a Look East policy and would give them a second home!

    And I’m sure some people in Banting are still upset with the British whose apology the M’sian government did not seem to care too much to seek. Communist ideology or not, it smarts of double standards.

  26. Hwa Shi-Hsia says:

    It’s not that the younger generation SUPPORTS communism, it’s that we DON’T CARE about it. Stop trying to scare us with ghosts from half a century ago.

    And yes, let the old man come home and die in peace.

  27. garden says:

    Younger generations do not know history and they are ignorant of what Chin Peng and the communist party had done to the Malayan people. Let’s put racism aside shall we? Chin Peng did not only harm the Malays, they also harmed the Chinese and Indians. My father was the DO in Gua Musang that had tried to curb this communist threat over the people of Gua Musang during the ’60s. So please, don’t be fooled by an old man. What the Malaysians should never forget is his cruelty to the older generations.

    Go dig up your granddad and grandma’s graves and ask them if they will ever forgive Chin Peng. Don’t be … ignorant … [of] what Chin Peng had done. Will the Jews ever forgive Hitler? Will the Bosnians ever forgive Milosevic? Will the Chinese ever forgive the Japs for their war crimes? … Mandela was the victim, apartheid was the aggressor. Who else on this Earth other than Mandela would forgive his aggressor in such a way? I can’t think of anyone else. Tell me if you can.

  28. mutusamy says:

    Propaganda murahan untuk basuh otak pengundi, alahai… sedihnya.

  29. Abang Din says:

    Saya sokong ulasan YB Zulkifli. Mereka yang beria sangat untuk membenarkan Chin Peng kembali ke Malaysia mungkin buta sejarah atau pun just because tak suka dengan BN nak hentam saja saja . That’s not fair. Tolong fikirkan perasaan anak-anak bekas pasukan keselamatan yang terkorban semasa darurat dulu. Lagi pun buat apa Chin Peng nak balik Malaysia kalau masih lagi percaya apa yang di lakukan dulu tu betul? Malaysia dah merdeka dan maju dan kita tak perlu orang macam Chin Peng.

    • Javeed says:

      Simpan sejarah dalam muzium. Jangan simpan dalam hati. Nak hidup dalam tahun 2000 an atau nak undur kebelakang ke 1941. Terpulang. Kalau orang yang dah bertamadun, tahu memaafkan seorang yang zalim yang sekarang tak bermampu. Hasrat beliau adalah untuk meninggal dunia di tempat kelahirannya.
      Dalam masyarakat sekarang penyampun yang dah insaf diberikan kerja. Itu perbuatan mulia. Jangan politikkan hal ini lagi. Macam mana dengan pemimpin kita yang curi duit rakyat. Adakah kita buang negara mereka?

  30. Hong says:

    Kalau Abang Din menolak kepulangan Chin Peng di atas pertimbangan perasaan anak-anak bekas pasukan keselamatan yang terkorban semasa Darurat, sila uraikan kepada si ako mengapa ahli-ahli PKM lain yang berpangkat tinggi seperti Abdullah CD and Rashid Maidin dibenarkan kembali ke tanahair (malah sampai Abdullah CD bersalaman dengan bekas IGP Hanif Omar) manakala Chin Peng tidak diberi peluang ini?


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