Malaysia: Chin Peng 'a determined, resourceful anti-colonial and anti-imperialist fighter'

Chin Peng holds up page one of The Straits Times newspaper of

By Choo Chon Kai, International Bureau, Socialist Party of Malaysia/Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)

September 17, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) is deeply saddened over the passing of Chin Peng, secretary-general of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). We would like to express our condolences to Chin Peng’s family and his comrades in the CPM.

Chin Peng was a determined, resourceful anti-colonial and anti-imperialist fighter who led the heroic struggle against the Japanese occupation and British colonisation of Malaya. He played a significant role in the national liberation struggle of Malaya and he definitely has his place in the history of the independence of our country.

Chin Peng was born as Ong Boon Hua in 1924 in Sitiawan, Perak. He joined the CPM in 1940. Chin Peng was involved in the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) which fought against the Japanese invasion and occupation. In recognition of this, Chin Peng was offered the OBE by the British in 1947, the year he became the secretary-general of the CPM. Barely a year later the CPM was forced into armed struggle against the British when a state of emergency was declared by the colonial power. This national liberation war dragged on into a civil war that lasted for over 40 years because sincere attempts by the CPM to negotiate a peace accord in Baling in 1955 floundered as both the British and the Alliance leaders didn’t want the CPM to enter the electoral process. They were afraid that their economic interests would be compromised should the CPM gain electoral representation. A peace agreement was finally reached in 1989.

Chin Peng and the CPM have been vilified in our official history with all kinds of negative labels, not unexpectedly, as history is written by the victors. But discerning Malaysians, including today’s younger generation, know that Chin Peng and his comrades took up arms in 1948 not for personal benefit but for an independent Malaya and justice for ordinary people. It is undeniable that Malaya would not have achieved independence in 1957 had there been no national liberation struggle waged against colonial rule by Chin Peng and the CPM.

It is unfortunate that the Malaysian government has refused to recognise the contribution of CPM to the independence of our country. The Malaysian government has also failed to honour the peace accord signed by the Malaysian government, the Thai government and the CPM in 1989 by refusing to allow Chin Peng to return to his homeland even up to his death. Chin Peng had applied several times to return to the land of his birth. While many other CPM members were allowed to return, Chin Peng remained the government’s bogeyman.

Hence, the PSM calls upon our government to recognise the struggles and sacrifices of all anti-colonial figures including Chin Peng, in order to preserve a truthful account of our struggle for independence. The people of Malaysia have a right to know the true story of our anti-colonial struggle. Chin Peng and his struggle will always be remembered, recognised and respected.

Chin Peng's final message: 'May the flames of social justice and humanity never die

By Chin Peng

My dear comrades, my dear compatriots,

When you read this letter, I am no more in this world.

It was my original intention to pass away quietly and let my relatives handle the funeral matters in private. However, the repercussions of erroneous media reports of me in critical condition during October 2011, had persuaded me that leaving behind such a letter is desirable.

Ever since I joined the Communist Party of Malaya and eventually became its secretary-general, I have given both my spiritual and physical self in the service of the cause that my party represented, that is, to fight for a fairer and better society based on socialist ideals. Now with my passing away, it is time that my body be returned to my family.

I draw immense comfort in the fact that my two children are willing to take care of me, a father who could not give them family love, warmth and protection ever since their birth. I could only return my love to them after I had relinquished my political and public duties, ironically only at a time when I have no more life left to give to them as a father.

It was regrettable that I had to be introduced to them well advanced in their adulthood as a stranger. I have no right to ask them to understand, nor to forgive. They have no choice but to face this harsh reality. Like families of many martyrs and comrades, they too have to endure hardship and suffering not out of their own doing, but out of a consequence of our decision to challenge the cruel forces in the society which we sought to change.

It is most unfortunate that I couldn't, after all, pay my last respects to my parents buried in hometown of Sitiawan (in Perak), nor could I set foot on the beloved motherland that my comrades and I had fought so hard for against the aggressors and colonialists.

My comrades and I had dedicated our lives to a political cause that we believed in and had to pay whatever price there was as a result. Whatever consequences on ourselves, our family and the society, we would accept with serenity.

In the final analysis, I wish to be remembered simply as a good man who could tell the world that he had dared to spend his entire life in pursuit of his own ideals to create a better world for his people.

It is irrelevant whether I succeeded or failed, at least I did what I did. Hopefully the path I had walked on would be followed and improved upon by the young after me. It is my conviction that the flames of social justice and humanity will never die.

[Chin Peng was the leader of the Communist Party of Malaya. He died at hospital in Bangkok on September 16, 2013 at the age of 89. This is his final letter to his comrades and compatriots published in his memorial booklet.]