The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) is deeply saddened over the passing of Chin Peng, secretary-general of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). We would like to express our condolences to Chin Peng’s family and his comrades in the CPM.
Chin Peng was a determined, resourceful anti-colonial and anti-imperialist fighter who led the heroic struggle against the Japanese Occupation and British colonisation. He played a significant role in the national liberation struggle of Malaya and he definitely has his place in the history of the independence of our country.
Chin Peng was born as Ong Boon Hua in 1924 in Sitiawan, Perak. He joined the CPM in 1940. Chin Peng was involved in the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) fought against the Japanese invasion and occupation. In recognition of this, Chin Peng was offered the OBE by the British in 1947, the year he became the secretary-general of the CPM.
Barely a year later the CPM was forced into armed struggle against the British when a state of emergency was declared by the colonial power.
This national liberation war dragged on into a civil war that lasted for over 40 years because sincere attempts by the CPM to negotiate a peace accord in Baling in 1955 floundered as both the British and the Alliance leaders didn’t want the CPM to enter the electoral process.
They were afraid that their economic interests would be compromised should the CPM gain electoral representation. A peace agreement was finally reached in 1989.
Chin Peng and the CPM have been vilified in our official history with all kinds of negative labels, not unexpectedly, as history is written by the victors. But discerning Malaysians, including today’s younger generation, know that Chin Peng and his comrades took up arms in 1948 not for personal benefit but for an independent Malaya and justice for ordinary people.
It is undeniable that Malaya would not have achieved independence in 1957 had there been no national liberation struggle waged against colonial rule by Chin Peng and the CPM.
It is unfortunate that the Malaysian government has refused to recognize the contribution of CPM to the independence of our country. The Malaysian government has also failed to honour the peace accord signed by the Malaysian government, the Thai government and the CPM in 1989 by refusing to allow Chin Peng to return to his homeland even up to his death.
Chin Peng had applied several times to return to the land of his birth. While many other CPM members were allowed to return, Chin Peng remained the government’s bogeyman.
Hence, PSM urges our government to recognise the struggles and sacrifices of all anti-colonial figures including Chin Peng, in order to preserve a truthful account of our struggle for independence. The people of Malaysia have a right to know the true story of our anti-colonial struggle.
Chin Peng and his struggle will always be remembered, recognised and respected.
CHOO CHON KAI heads the International Bureau, Socialist Party of Malaysia/Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)