He was the bane of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) when he was a Special Branch officer, so much so that a “bounty” was put on his head.
Yuen received many death threats in the 34 years he was in the police force, including, it was said, threats against his family. Yet, when it was suggested that he spend some time overseas to be on the safe side, he refused.
Such was his sense of duty to country. Yet, here before the journalist, was a quiet, unassuming-looking man. It was difficult indeed to believe that this man was once one of the most feared police officers among CPM members.
It was not till he began speaking that the fiery character shone through. Indeed, the topic inflamed the passions, nay, anger, of the man, who was already in his late 70s.
Certain politicians had claimed that Alliance leaders, especially those from Umno, such as Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj and Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, were not freedom fighters, and that people like CPM secretary-general Chin Peng and the party itself had contributed to independence.
Puan Sri Chan Choy May, the widow of Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Leng, receiving a Jalur Gemilang from Bukit Aman Management Department director Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah at Yuen’s funeral in Nilai yesterday. Pic by Mohamad Shahril Badri Saali
“I don’t understand the logic. How can anyone say Chin Peng and CPM were responsible for the independence of Malaya, and our leaders, like Tunku (Abdul Rahman), were not the real fighters for independence? “
Do we have to take part in a bloody war for independence or spend time in jail (for sedition) before we can be called freedom fighters?
“For what? So that we can have deaths on both sides?”
Yuen argued that Chin Peng was fighting not for Malayan independence, but for a communist state.
His sense of pride and love for the country was on display as he talked. It was that love for his country that led Yuen to do what he did during his three decades in the force.
Ever the dutiful officer, he sacrificed a lot for his nation. Family life was no peach.
He missed many a family function as he was away in the jungles. Even his family members were unaware of what he was doing for love of country.
He even missed the deaths of some of his children. In at least two battles with insurgents, he suffered wounds. One such wound saw a bullet get lodged near his heart. That piece of metal was never removed.
Five years after retiring in 1984, his life’s mission was fulfilled. CPM lay down its arms and signed the Hat Yai Peace Accord on Dec 2, 1989.
It was something in which he had been instrumental in achieving. Peace was finally at hand. Even after his retirement, he remained vocal about the things affecting his country.
He had to, he was known to have said, because if its citizens were not united, then, he and other members of the security forces, especially those who had lain down their lives, had sacrificed for nothing.
On Thursday, Malaysia lost a true national hero and patriot. Yesterday, Yuen was buried with full police honours. It was a fitting tribute to a man who was one of the finest officers the police force has ever produced. Yuen was a towering Malaysian, who saw no difference in the colour of skin.
He knew only that we, as citizens of a beautiful nation filled with people of multiple ethnicities, should stand together in peace and harmony. We should take heed of the words of a wise man, a man who was wounded in the line of duty for his country even before he became a Malayan citizen, even before the nation, which would eventually become Malaysia, was formed.
Tunku Abdul Rahman led the country peacefully to independence. But, that peace was soon torn asunder by CPM. It was through the blood and sacrifices of people like Yuen that this nation once again achieved the peace its people craved.
To be a nation divided would be an insult to those who fought so hard to gain peace for us.