Chin Peng - laying our past to rest, not distorting it by Commandeer (Rtd) S Thayaparan
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
“You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain” - Harvey Dent (The Dark Knight)
The death of Chin Peng marks the end of the era whose ghosts has been
used to haunt us for decades. The decrepit visage of the aged former
communist guerrilla, who waged a war against various powers both
colonial and legitimate, will soon fade away but for the occasional need
for some to pick at old scars to facilitate new wounds.
Chin Peng’s (he will always be Chin Peng to me) death on Malaysia Day
is some sort of “gift” for the citizens of Malaysia, blood and
patriotism of the zealous kind always go hand in hand but I see it as a
reminder of our distorted history that unfortunately will remain so.
long as the system willfully encourages national delusions in the hopes
that people would be cowed into remaining silent, lest they are painted
as traitors or “pendatangs” intent on usurping racial sovereignty, our
future will be a toxic swamp of racial distrust. ‘Tanda Putera’
is just the most recent example of distorting history attempting to
portray race riots as a plot by communist insurgents working through
It would be interesting to see if, a willing
director backed by the apparatus and lucre of the Umno state would
concoct a fable that further demonises this Malaysian who died in exile
Of course, the right wing nationalists are abuzz
with the very idea that Chin Peng would be buried in Malaysia or at the
very least, his ashes scattered on our beloved pure soil. Ibrahim Ali,
the Perkasa potentate, echoed the sentiment of many extreme right wing
Malays when “he said an individual like the communist leader should be
erased from the annals of the country’s history, away from the eyes of
the younger generation.
“(The communist insurgency is) a dark
moment in the country’s history which should serve as a lesson but not
the history of a terrorist or criminal who destroy a country.”
Perkasa cares not for those Malaysians who would destroy another
country and their place in the eyes of the younger generation. For
instance, the remains of mass murderer Noordin Mohammad Top, was brought
back to this country, even though the people of his own village
objected to his return.
Indeed, we should consider the words of
former home minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who was not only saddened of
the death of Noordin but who also said, “What he did was wrong. We don’t
condone what he did. I am sad that we did not get to rehabilitate him,
like we have done with many others, including Jemaah Islamiah militants.
I am sad because a life is a life.”
Therefore, while the
Malaysian government helped Noordin’s family to bring back the body of a
wanted terrorist who had butchered countless people of different
nationalities, “a life is a life” sentiment does not apply to someone
like Chin Peng. Why? It is because he is Chinese. A communist?
Alternatively, maybe Islamic terrorism is more acceptable than communist
For sure other “Malay” communist have been
and will be redacted from our national State approved narratives but the
Chin Peng personality has been and always will be used to demonized a
Already a narrative is forming of those
“political parties” and “NGOs” being warned that that the Chin Peng
issue is one of patriotism - the use of the families who suffered under
the Communist insurgency and the deaths of security personnel as a
Inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar
reminds us that Chin Peng was “technically” not a citizen. As usual when
it comes to questions like these, I much prefer to rely on the
reasoning of people who display a sense of rationality not to mention,
personal experience with the issues in question.
Consider the words of Said Zahari
For this the words of Said Zahari the former editor of Utusan Melayu , who was interviewed by MerdekaReview, in 2009 should be considered by right-thinking Malaysians. On the question of citizenship, here is what Said declares, “Chin
Peng lahir di bumi Malaya. Dia lahir di satu tempat, namanya Sitiawan.
Sitiawan ini adalah sebahagian daripada bumi Malaya. Kalau dia lahir di
bumi Malaya, maka dia adalah bumiputera Malaya...”
The incredulous reporter then queried the “bumiputra” claim, to which the indefatigable Said replied “Ya! Undang-undang dunia mana sekali pun, di mana awak lahir, di situlah tanahair”.
Zahari mengibaratkan bahawa seandainya diri beliau dilahirkan di Kuala
Lumpur misalnya, dan Chin Peng pula dilahirkan di Sitiawan,]
“...kedua-duanya di tanah Malaya. Saya bumiputera tanah bumi ini.
Mengapa mahu buat Chin Peng bukan bumiputera? Kalau datuknya bukan
bumiputera saya setuju... tapi... (tidak bersetuju dalam kes Chin Peng.”
Said Zahari (right),
who was there during the negotiations, does not have much patience for
the allegations that Chin Peng was not a citizen of Malaysia.
provides context to right thinking Malaysians who may not remember a
time when journalist were more than just mouthpieces to the regime, when
he says “Apa lagi yang kamu (mereka yang menentang kepulangan Chin Peng) mahu?
kamu sudah boleh terima Chin Peng punya signature (tandatangan) sebagai
satu perjanjian yang membawa kepada pendamaian antara rakyat di Malaya,
apa bukti yang you mahu? Apakah you masih insist dia bukan rakyat
jelata? Kita sudah zalim...”
The debate of the various
roles Chin Peng played as a Malaysian is crucial for what we get from it
are diverse narratives where people of various ethnicities competed
under various ideological banners for a chance to shape the destiny of
It reminds of us of a time where ideology, not
race, was a rallying cry for disparate voices attempting to come
together during the post-colonial history of Malaysia. In other words,
it reminds us that things were not always, what we hear and see from the
state-controlled media and discourse.
There is much to vilify of
Chin Peng as there is much to admire of him. These men of a different
era literally spilled blood in fighting against forces that would have
enslaved us. The fact that he turned his guns on his fellow Malaysians
should never be forgotten.
However what is worse is that by
denying him his citizenship we are in fact denying our history. By
denying our history, we delude ourselves into thinking that Malaysia’s
history was a safe narrative filled with heroes and villains, which
neatly fit with the stereotypes of race as sanctioned by the Umno state.
What could be more damaging than this? S THAYAPARAN is Commander (rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.