Twenty years ago, the Haadyai Peace Accords were signed between our government and the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), which ended the protracted anti-British-turned-civil war, and marked the beginning of national reconciliation process beneficial to national unity and nation building as a whole.
Among other things, CPM's contributions to the independence process was finally recognised by our government when Rahim Noor, the then Inspector General of Police (IGP) and head of government negotiating team, made an announcement that "Malaysia did not deny or dispute the CPM's contribution to the struggle for independence."
Besides, according to Chin Peng's lawyer Darshan Singh Khaira, Clause 3.1 of the Peace Accords also stipulates that the former CPM members who have laid down their arms and desire to return home to Malaysia should be allowed to do so freely. In other words, if our government had abided by the Peace Accords, Chin Peng should have been allowed to return home together with his comrades 20 years ago.
Since the government had turned down Chin Peng's application to return home to Malaysia, he had no choice but to take legal action through the High Court, Appeal Court and Federal Court. These courts of justice were equally adamant that he should produce documents such as birth and citizenship certificates to prove his origins in Malaysia.
This is an impossible demand for Chin Peng who possesses no such documents due to the years of war turmoil. The fact that Chin Peng was born in Setiawan, Perak is well known inside and outside the country and any sibling or close relative of his can easily testify for him on this matter. Demanding that he produces documents of birth and citizenship is merely a pretext to deprive him of his right of residence based on the principle of Jus Soli.
On May 21, 2008, the Chairman of Citizens International, SM Mohamed Idris, came forward to appeal to the Malaysian government to allow Chin Peng to return home in Malaysia based on the following reasons:
1. Through the struggle of anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism and anti-oppression, Chin Peng had safeguarded the dignity of our nation and people;
2. It's an undisputable historical fact that the struggle of the liberation movement led by Chin Peng, Rashid Mydin, Abdullah C.D., Shamsiah Fakeh and the rest had contributed to the independent process of our country;
3. The contribution of CPM to the liberation movement was recognised by our former Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Alhaj, former Deputy Prime Ministers, Tun Dr. Ismail Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Ghafar Baba;
4. The Peace Accords 1989 signed by Malaysian government and CPM allow Chin Peng to return home as resident and the government is urged to abide by the agreement;
5. A few senior CPM leaders including Abdullah C.D., Shamsiah Fakeh and Musa Ahmad have been allowed to return home as visitors or residents.
Gerakan Penang Chief Dr. Teng Hock Nan also issued a statement in support of Citizens International's call to let Chin Peng return to Malaysia, in appreciation of his contribution towards the independence of our country and on humanitarian grounds. Their appeals are based on rationality and justice, upholding the spirit of reconciliation manifested in the Peace Accords.
Sadly, Dr. Teng has been made a scapegoat for the political convenience of certain parties, who have indulged in inciting anti-communist sentiments and racial hatred in an attempt to divert attention from their political predicaments. As usual, Utusan Malaysia has joined in to orchestrate the anti-communist chorus and within days we are back to the spectre of Operation Lalang, in which everyone can be conveniently labelled as communist or extremist of sorts and detained under the ISA.
Information, Communications, Arts and Culture Minister Dr Rais Yatim has threatened to close down all blogs which have been classified as propagating the "communist ideology", and he has vowed that all nostalgic sentiments or positive perceptions of communism should be eradicated totally from the people's minds. Rais seems to be still trapped in the anti-communist mindset of the Cold War era; to him, CPM still remains the enemy of the country even though the Peace Accords have been signed for 20 long years!
In a democratic country, who has the right to stop anyone from cherishing the memory of their sacrifices, struggles or glorious past; or to reflect and mull over past events to sum up one's experience and lessons? No matter if you are a conservative, religious, liberal, radical or whatever political or ideological background, it is your human right to freedom of speech, thought, belief and conviction!
In other words, former members of CPM, including Mat Amin, or those who still believe there are positive values in communism/Marxism are entitled to their own blogs (there are thousands or such blogs in cyber space), as long as they stick to their computers and do not wage an armed struggle against the country, and abide by our cyber laws.
The blanket denunciation of communism by Rais on the eve of Najib's official visit to communist China is unbecoming and amounts to a breach of diplomatic propriety, especially when the fraternal relationship and economic ties between our two countries have reached a new height of strategic co-operation.
Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has also said that certain groups in the country have attempted to restore the ideology and values of communism. I am not sure what Zahid really means when he refers to the abstract "ideology and values of communism". We are now in a world in which all ideologies and values are in flux. Without defining what he means by "ideology and values of communism", it can be interpreted to mean anything; it may simply be a bogey created to scare people for political convenience.
Zahid disagrees with letting Chin Peng return home, he has claimed that Chin Peng's return would be an insult to the families of nearly 50,000 British colonial and government troops who died during the "Malayan Emergency". In other words, by speaking up for British colonial troops instead of the CPM who fought for national liberation, he has merely shown that he is a colonial lackey. Zahid also needs to justify how the death toll of British colonial and government troops has now soared to 50,000, when historians have determined that fewer than 2,000 colonial troops and Malaysian forces perished in the war, along with up to 7,000 communist fatalities.
The record must be set straight on two important points. Firstly, in any war, there will be death and suffering on both sides and any one-sided story is not fair to the other side. In fact, in the protracted Anti-Japanese War, the Anti-British Liberation War, and the Civil War after the British left Malaysia in the seventies, the death and injured toll of the CPM fighters were many times in excess of government troops. Besides, thousands upon thousands of members and supporters of CPM were hung, imprisoned, tortured and deported. Rural people's homes were pulled down and all the residents were forced into the concentration camps all over the country called "New Villages". Why are all these sacrifices by the CPM and ordinary people never mentioned in the media or by the Ministers concerned?
Secondly, one needs to differentiate between a just war and an unjust war. Clearly, the Anti-Japanese and Anti-British wars fought by the CPM were just wars; they sacrificed for the nation and people. Therefore, they were patriots, and their glorious and heroic causes should be recorded in the history books in our school system. Those who fought as proxies of the British colonialists have no right to claim any sympathy from the people.
You may ask: why did the CPM still continue the war after the British had left Malaysia? The fact is, they were forced to continue the war because their initiative for a peace accord in the Baling Talks of 1955 were nipped in the bud by the British colonialists who imposed the precondition that CPM must surrender.
Chin Peng's answer was: "If you demand our surrender, we would rather fight to the last man!" CPM actually asked nothing more than what Tunku had offered before, I quote from Chin Peng's published memoirs:
"Looking straight across the two tables I said, in the past the Tunku mentioned that if we stopped the armed struggle, our Party could then enjoy equal status so that we could fight for independence by constitutional means. But the present amnesty terms do not contain such a point. " (alias Chin Peng, "My Side of History", p.379)
So, who is to be blamed, Chin Peng or Tunku?