CHIN PENG'S REIGN OF TERROR: Some wounds are hard to heal, even to this day
IT was impossible not to have any reaction to the news of Chin Peng's death in Bangkok. After all, he had been a figure my peers and I feared, and even loathed, when we were children.
Later, he was found to be a wily nemesis to contend with when I was actively soldiering. On this matter, I can still remember being part of a small force on a difficult operation out to get him at a location near the Malaysia/Thailand boundary. This unsuccessful operation was carried out in the early 1970s after he had issued a directive to his assault units and work forces to revive the communist armed struggle in the peninsula.
Then, again, there is the contentious issue surrounding his requests to return to Malaysia, which were denied.
My generation, born just after the end of World War 2, grew up during the whole 12 years of the Malayan Emergency, which ended in 1960. It was a testing and difficult period for us. Even the mere mention of "communist terrorists" (CTs) and Chin Peng in those days could send shivers up our spine, particularly for those who lived in the remote and isolated areas of the country or who had to move about and work unprotected.
Their fears were only understandable as many had witnessed or had heard of the acts of terror against our people and members of the security forces during that period. There were also many who had been victims.
The ending of the Emergency led many to believe that the country was not threatened any more by the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) led by Chin Peng. But, the truth is that it remained and we (police and military especially) knew no respite and continued fighting the terrorists and their supporters in the deep jungles, jungle fringes, villages and even in the cities, an epic fight that went on almost unnoticed by the common public for almost three decades.
That was the fight where many of us had participated and suffered after we joined the army in 1965. A fight that also saw new recruitment into the CPM and the re-infiltration of its armed assault units from Southern Thailand into, particularly, Kedah, Perak, Pahang, Negri Sembilan and Johor. It was also a fight that eventually saw the conduct of large-scale coordinated and combined Malaysian/Thai military operations to destroy the CTs in their bases on Thai territory.
We were suitably relieved when it was finally over after Chin Peng agreed to end the CPM's armed struggle in an agreement signed on Dec 2, 1989. This date certainly marked the beginning of a completely safe and secure peninsula and enabled many areas long denied by the CT threat to be opened up for development. It also marked the start of trying to heal deep emotional and physical wounds among many soldiers, policemen, civilians, their family members and many more, brought about by the very long war of the CPM and Chin Peng.
Those wounds, however, were found to be hard to heal, even up to this day. Therein lies a problem that the government and every concerned body and individual will have to wrestle with for a long time to come without jeopardising our national security and the wellbeing of people in the country. A problem made more complicated after some quarters began to loudly claim that Chin Peng had, in fact, fought for independence and should, therefore, be accorded due recognition.
While there are a number of people who support this assertion, there are many more who oppose. Taking into consideration our many sensitivities and the primary concern for our overarching national security, I would only wish to state that it is best not to open up old wounds, let alone make new ones.
Let there be final closure in the manner as it now stands!