Let Chin Peng Come Home

This article was taken from Aliran regarding Chin Peng's request to return home. It's important to uncover the misconceptions developed over the years by 'people in power' via media and education system. Back in school I had the impression that Chin Peng was an evil renegade aligned with CPM, who hindered any form of progress in Malaya's independence. Read on.

Seek truth.

by S Arutchelvan Aliran Monthly 2003:9

Chin Peng: allowing him to return would highlight our compassion According to former Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) leader Chin Peng, history is inevitably portrayed from the point of view of victors. This propaganda, it seems to me, has influenced many critics who regard Chin Peng as an unworthy human being. This is not surprising as it has been repeated all these years by those in power. The British first potrayed Chin Peng as a hero; later, as a villain. This is a clear example as to how those in power can interpret history as they wish. Some of Chin Peng’s critics, I believe, are much influenced by this later portrayal of Chin Peng. I find that Chin Peng is courageous in admitting the failures and weaknesses of the Communist Party which he led. Till today, I have yet to hear the Japanese or the British colonists ever admitting any wrong-doings on their part during the war. Today we welcome and embrace the Japanese and British business class, forgetting all the atrocities and murders committed on the Malaysian people. It is sad that we can have such double standards. Chin Peng had waged a war against the Japanese and British. His enemy was clear.

In fact, what is the difference in the killing of Sir Henry Gurney by CPM as compared to the killing of JWW Birch in Pasir Salak by Maharaja Lela. Today Maharaja Lela is a hero but why is it hard to accept the fact that the CPM was the first political party in the country calling for independence and the first to wage a war against the invaders. There is a lot of misconception surrounding the Baling talks. The CPM never changed its stand from 1955 until the accord was signed in 1989. On both occasions, it declined to surrender but agreed to lay down its arms. In 1955, the talks failed as the British were pulling the strings but a similar suggestion was agreed to 34 years later. Therefore, who prolonged the war? If the CPM did not have the support of the poor and the rural masses, they could not have succeeded all this while. It took very draconian laws and very undemocratic measures adopted by the British to stop popular support for the CPM. Rural dwellers were put in so-called New Villages, which were in fact detention centres. If the CPM was so unpopular, I am sure the colonial authorities then would have had a much easier task. Nobody in his or her right frame of mind will wage an armed struggle. Every armed struggle all over the world is rooted in deep dissatisfaction arising from the failure of the system we live in. It is important to find answers to these fundamental questions. By not addressing these questions, we would be walking on a thin line labelling every person a terrorist. On the killing of the European planters, it appears that there was no directive.

But Chin Peng was not against the killing except for the killing of a 21-year-old probationer who had just started to work. It is said that the planters killed were ruthless owners who brought great hardship to the workers and most workers were not sympathetic about their deaths. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to talk to some estate workers in the Sungai Siput area and inquired about the Communist Party and its role during British rule. To my surprise, the Indian workers whom I met said they considered the communists as the “Jungle God” (Kattu Perumal). “They only helped us and did not do any harm to us,” they revealed. I was surprised with their views.

I had indicated my wish to be allowed to visit my hometown so that I could pay homage to the graves of my grandfather, parents and my brothers in the Chinese cemetery, halfway between Sitiawan and Lumut. This duty is still uppermost in my mind… It is ironic that I should be without the country for which I was more than willing to die. Chin Peng Chin Peng has many a time remarked that if we lived in his era, we might have done the same: “...if you had gone through the ghastly period of the corrupt British Military Administration immediately after the Japanese capitulation and seen the wholesale poverty that pervaded after years of Japanese atrocities, if you had watched how the administration worked in Malayan towns and villagers, you could not be quick to say that I should have been cool-headed and taken the easier road.” I think it is time to welcome back Chin Peng. I feel the Government is more worried of Chin Peng’s popularity upon his return. After all, the Government has acknowledged that the CPM did play a part in hastening the independence of Malaysia. This is an historical fact. Chin Peng said he is unrepentant as to his beliefs and he is entitled to this view. We are doing injustice by not allowing him to visit the county of his birth. Whatever is said, Chin Peng and the CPM played an important role in our country’s history.

Today Japanese and British companies continue to exploit our workers while the United States goes on killing thousands of innocent people all over the world. Yet, we still give them a red carpet welcome. We talk about a borderless world and yet we build fences all round. Let Chin Peng come home. Allow him to visit his ancestral home to pay homage to his family and to settle in peace in his old age. Let him live out the remaining period of his life with his memories and friends, if any are still alive. This gesture will highlight our humanity and compassion.

S.Arutchelvan is pro-tem secretary general of Parti Sosialis Malaysia.


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