This brave man on whose life several assassination attempts were made and frequently shot at on his innumerable jungle-bashing forays, carried not just the scars of war to the grave, but an enemy bullet lodged in his body that doctors considered too dangerous to remove. Yuen had, I am sure, the quiet satisfaction of denying his enemy the pleasure of adding his name to their list of “enemy killed”.
The country’s foremost counter-insurgency strategist had not quite finished with them yet. He was among that special breed of totally loyal and dedicated Malayan Special Branch officers of Chinese origin, who succeeded in harvesting a bountiful crop of high-grade intelligence that broke Chin Peng’s back and turned the tide of what the communists referred to as The War of the Running Dogs, with apologies to Noel Barber, the author of the excellent book of that name, first published in 1971. It can be confidently asserted that in the country’s greatest hour of need, providentially, we had those Chinese officers to dismantle the Chinese wall of silence and to infiltrate into the innermost sanctum of the Malayan Communist Party.
If we had to rely solely on British, Malay and Indian SB (Special Branch) officers to gather, collate, analyse and interpret the vital military grade intelligence needed to prosecute successfully the war against Chin Peng, the outcome of the emergency would in all probability have been different. The British themselves were the first to admit this.
The vital contribution of the police of all races, men and women at the sharp end of the sinister war against communist domination cannot be overestimated. It was police intelligence, painstakingly and professionally procured by the Chinese officers of the SB that changed the whole approach to jungle fighting.
The security forces with the support of the SB were now able to dictate where and when the communists would be ambushed. The communists no longer called the shots: they were now in constant fear of walking into a well-prepared police field force or army ambush. The hitherto set piece, totally inappropriate, battalion strength sweep through the jungles of Malaya in hopes of flushing out the communists, much favoured by the British, had become a thing of the past, thanks to people like Yuen.
The success rate improved significantly, shortening the war considerably. The remarkable thing about Yuen is that he was not merely carrying out his SB duties with great panache and imagination, long before “thinking out of the box” became a management buzzword; he had an amazing grasp of the significance of what he was doing in the overall national scheme of things.
He had an intuitive appreciation of the broad national policies that needed to be put in place so as to give substance to 1Malaysia, long before Najib popularised the idea.
A united Malaysia and what needed to be done by all Malaysians to achieve this was his one great passion, or those who had the privilege of listening to Yuen expound with an almost messianic zeal his vision of a Malaysia fit for all, recognised that deep down this distinguished “police pensioner”, as he often described himself, beat the robust heart of a true patriot. He needed little encouragement to change tack and would unapologetically sail into his life-long passion — a united Malaysian nation based on strict adherence to the constitution.
He wanted official policies to be grounded firmly in justice and equity; policies that united rather than those that tended to divide us, and policies that respected Malay/Bumiputera rights without denying others their legitimate rights. In brief, Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Leng, throughout a life of service to his country, had sought to bring to An End to Otherness, with apologies to Sir Shridath Ramphal that outstanding humanist under whom I served all those years ago in London.
In this, Yuen and Shridath shared a common vision of inclusiveness. Yuen’s legacy will assuredly go down in the annals of Malaysian police history — of men and women of all races, many of whom paid the ultimate price for their country’s freedom.
More lasting will be the resonance of his wisdom in the consciousness of Malaysians of goodwill whenever they reflect upon the failings of the past even as they contemplate the future course of their nation’s history.
Yuen, whom I had the honour of knowing and sharing our concerns about the future of our country, has left us, taking with him our eternal gratitude for his being in our midst these last 88 years. Let us who love this country keep his vision of a united Malaysian homeland alive.
Tunku Abdul Aziz NST Columnist 5 October 2015 @ 11:01 AM