A former top cop has warned that Malaysia will be made a laughing stock if the government is adamant about its “naïve” decision to refuse to allow Chin Peng’s ashes to be brought back to be interred.
Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor, a former inspector-general of police, said this would also help turn the ex-communist leader into an icon and that it was a step backwards in the government’s attempts to win back Chinese support following the poor performance in the last general election.
“There is a hue and cry from the public not to even allow his ashes (back into Malaysia). My God... this is stretching the argument a bit too far. It’s a bit naive I think.
“If the government succumbs to this public pressure not to allow Chin Peng's ashes to be brought back, I think, we are making Malaysia a laughing stock to the whole world,” he said in an interview from the United Kingdom that aired on BFM yesterday.
Abdul Rahim, who was Special Branch director at that time, led the peace talks which culminated in the Haadyai Peace Treaty 1989. It officially ended the Communist Party of Malaya’s armed struggle against the government.
The refusal to allow Chin Peng into the country even when he was alive, he said, also made a mockery of the 1989 treaty.
He said he convinced the government at that time to engage with the communists in talks, more than 30 years after the failed 1955 Baling negotiations.
He said that even though the 12-year Emergency was lifted in 1960, security forces were still battling communist remnants in the 1980s, but the decline of communism in the region was an opportunity for renewed peace negotiations.
At that time, there were still around 2,000 communists along the Malaysian-Thai border, with the two largest groups being the North Malayan Bureau and the 10th Regiment, which largely comprised Malays, he said.
He said that with the backing of then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Special Branch secretly initiated negotiations with the communists at the end of 1987 and early 1988 on Phuket Island over five rounds of talks.
As a result, the 1989 treaty was signed in Haadyai comprising two agreements, one containing the core terms and the other administrative details on how the terms would be implemented.
“I was involved in the drafting of both agreements, so I know full well that under the terms of the agreements, all the agreements applied are binding on every CPM member, from the highest topmost to the bottom.
“So if you say that Chin Peng, as secretary-general of the party (CPM) is the highest most member, then he qualifies to get all the privileges, advantages or whatever promises made in the agreement, which includes for him to be allowed to come back (to Malaysia),” Abdul Rahim said.
He said, according to the agreement, in the event these former communist members were not allowed to permanently return to Malaysia, they should be allowed to enter the country on social visits.
“But in the case of Chin Peng, he was not allowed both. To me, it’s absurd, totally absurd. It’s unfair, grossly unfair... There were other ex-communists who were allowed to come back and they were mainly Malays,” he said.
“Abdullah CD (CPM chairperson) was allowed to come back to Malaysia and was even given an audience with the current sultan of Perak. Rashid Maidin (CPM central committee member), I was told, performed his pilgrimage through KL with the help of the Malaysian authorities. What’s all this?”
He, however, was not prepared to presume that the government’s decision was along racial lines. As far as he was concerned, in Chin Peng’s case, the government had made a mockery of the peace agreement.
He said the public did not seem to understand the context of the international communist struggle and instead perceived the 40 years of communist insurrection in Malaya was Chin Peng’s fight alone and that he was the only one calling all the shots.
“I do not know why it should develop along this line (Chin Peng versus government). The fact is that good or bad - whatever Chin Peng was - the background is a peace treaty had been signed. We got to jolly well honour the terms and conditions,” he said.
Chin Peng spent a third of his life in exile in Thailand.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said the country will not budge from its stand to prevent Chin Peng’s remains from being brought back, and challenged those unhappy with the decision to seek legal redress.
Checkpoints into the country were also on high alert to prevent his remains from being smuggled in.
Yesterday, Barisan National coalition party MCA said that Chin Peng's remains should be allowed to be brought back here for last rites.
The party's bureau chairman Datuk Heng Seai Kie, in explanation, pointed out that the remains of terrorists Dr Azahari Husin and Nordin Mohamad Top were allowed to be buried in Malaysia.
In response, Malay rights group Perkasa took MCA to task, warning the party not to “upset the Malays”.
Its secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali said many Malays and Chinese had died at the hands of the communists.
Chin Peng, whose real name was Ong Boon Hua, died in a Bangkok hospital on Malaysia Day, a month short of his 89th birthday. He had repeatedly voiced his wish to be buried in his hometown of Sitiawan, Perak.
He fled to China in 1961 and later settled in Bangkok where he was granted an alien passport.
He reportedly moved to Haadyai in recent years and shuttled between Haadyai and Bangkok for cancer treatment.
He became secretary-general of the Communist Party of Malaya at the age of 23 and was Britain’s “enemy number one” in Southeast Asia at the height of the communist insurgency in Malaya. - September 21, 2013.
The Malaysian Insider – Sat, Sep 21, 2013