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 [email protected].
Face tribunal on crimes against humanity.
Tribunal for all; not just communists.
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!
Marx. Che Guevara. Chin Peng. Yay!
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.
Sign first, you can renege later!
Interview after signing agreement with him!
Just let the man come home.
One man’s patriot, another man’s terrorist.
Chin Peng, no. China, yes? Hypocrisy!
Bury the spectre – let’s move on.
To err, human. To forgive, divine.
Fahmi Fadzil says
Communists are the new mat rempits.
Who’s afraid of Ong Boon Hua?
“Communists are peopl…” Seditious! Tangkap dia!
Jason Sim says
Najib then why go to China?
Chin Peng’s just a puppet lah
Ban Chinamen while we’re at it?
Communism is long gone and dead!
Communism can’t survive today’s corruptive world!
Communism is not unlike today’s democracy!
Communism and capitalism don’t go hand-in-hand!
Communist ideology? Over my dead body!
Discard communism and start embracing capitalism!
Malaysia – no forgiveness, humanity, and compassion.
Malaysia – no principle as broke agreement.
Blatant double standard that stands out!
Support his return, support communism? Ridiculous!!
Confront past, to heal the future.
Only dictators cannot accept their past.
Deny in anger what love forgives.
No communism, no democracy, only anarchy.
Much ado over nothing, be magnanimous.
Hafidz Baharom says
Let Chin Peng come home, Malaysia.
His supporters don’t deserve the ISA.
Why was only Chin Peng blamed?
Chin Peng fought for the people.
Others who betrayed Malaya go unpunished?
There’re two sides of a coin.
Malayan history needs to be written.
The truth needs to be told.
siew eng says
Negara Chin Peng, tanah tumpahnya darahnya.
Di mana bumi dipijak … langit dijunjung.
Forgive colonialists, but not local communists?
meena lakshana says
Ostracisation based on ideology is unfair.
Took communism to realise democracy’s importance.
Intention was good, implementation was bad.
We should forgive the old’s mistakes.
Chin Peng’s history becomes BN’s doppelganger.
Allen Ng says
Err is human, forgive is divine!
The Cold War is being microwaved.
The longest ‘balik kampung’ tale ever.
CP. Mahathir. LKY. Octogenarians still boleh!
It’s not like he expects Datukship.
james au says
Barisan Nasional’s more deadly than Communism.
Honour the 1989 Haadyai Peace Treaty.
Pei Ling says
Shhh … Let’s smuggle him in quietly.
History is written by the victor.
Now, it’s selective forgiveness. Very bad.
One man’s fighter is another’s terrorist.
Thomas Lee says
Who can cast the first stone?
Steven Ong says
What evil can he do now?
Communism no! Subtle racist practice, yes?
Communism no! Divide and rule, yes?
Why go China while ban him?
An iconic figure in Malaysian history.
Read his book to know him.
Communism’s not a problem, Umno is.
Racism, corruption are the real problems.
Malaysia Ku says
Janji boleh, lepas sign tak boleh.
Malaysia Ku says
Komunis Melayu ok, Komunis Cina cannot.
Chuck out Muslim CPM members too!
K S Ong says
Why sign with someone so obnoxious?
Mahathir did not honour his word.
Will anyone else believe our promises?
It was another time, another place.
Those are my six words, this is my story: I have a dear friend who schooled with me from primary until secondary. He was the late Capt Hardev Singh of the Rangers Unit who was shot to death at the Thai Border in 1974. I was angry at and despised the CTs for this wanton act of terror. As a human being, I have to learn to let go and looking at Chin Peng who is now in the twilight of his life, let him return home.
Communists insurgency helped hasten Malayan independence
Citizenship a right, not a privilege.
Would another sacrifice all for Malaya?
He’s a Chinese, end of story.
Our politicians are immature without wisdom.
Let the ol’ man come back.
tebing tinggi says
“The Nut Graph doesn’t support communism”
Must you make a declaration?
Editor’s note: This *is* an independent news organisation.
Columns and Comments Editor
siew eng says
The Chinese Jebat to the British.
He’s a fact of Malaysian history.
Thou shall not suppress historical truths.
Only the devil fears Chin Peng.
philip selvaraj says
Many Indian Malaysians don’t have citizenship.
He is just an old man.
Philip Selvaraj says
Umno not known for rational thinking
Philip Selvaraj says
“Ketuanan Melayu” more dangerous than Communism
Philip Selvaraj says
Malaysia’s real threat is Islamic terrorism
Let the old man die here.
He fought for Malaya without colonisation.
Fikri Roslan says
Chin Peng Komunis, Mao Pun Komunis
Chin Peng menyeksa, membunuh pun banyak
Mengaku anak jati, pendatang haram rupanya
Tak balik Malaysia, negeri China tujuannya
A legend in Malaysia’s independence struggle.
Brad McNamara says
Show Malaysia is a mature nation.
Let an old man come home.