It is so easy to make comments on another historical figure with a little knowledge of the person and events. It is even easier to selectively choose information to fit into a construct that one chose to use. Chin Peng was a hero, Chin Peng was a freedom fighter, Chin Peng was a terrorist, a fanatic, a simpleton or a genius. Just take your pick. I can choose any one of these tags to write a story on Chin Peng and it would sound even more credible if I called myself an expert, a professor or add a Ph D behind my name. Let me just give my 2 cents worth of what I know of this man from the history books, news and some self proclaimed expert knowledge on this man.
Chin Peng and his comrades were anti Japanese fighter first and
foremost. In the 1940s, the timing and years are important as they
defined who and what of a man he was. Both Singapore and Malaya were
British colonies, not countries. No citizenship or rights of citizenship
for the likes of Chin Peng. Their loyalty was to the Chinese
civilization and an ancient China. They were also British subjects if I
am not mistaken for being in Malaya.
There was a war of aggression in China conducted by the Japanese. Chin
Peng fought under the Malayan People’s Anti Japanese Army. They were
also part of Force 136 supported by and supporting the British. They
were fighting on the side of the British when the Japanese invaded
Malaya and Singapore. Up to this point Chin Peng and his men/women were
on the right side of history, fighting an aggressor, the Japanese. He
was a war hero and awarded the OBE by the British Empire. His men
paraded at our Padang in a victory parade. His OBE was withdrawn when he
took the side of the communist to fight an anti colonial war against
the British. Chin Peng was a good man turned bad for fighting the
British. If one is a member of the British Empire, Chin Peng was bad. If
one was anti colonialism, Chin Peng was a patriot.
Communism in the early 1930s and 40s was favoured by the revolutionary
Chinese over the corrupt Chinese Nationalist Party, the KMT. Chin Peng
was a communist, so was bad and on the wrong side. He was good in the
history books of CCP. How one looks at Chin Peng would depend on one’s
The Malayan Emergency was not a war of terrorism but a war against the
colonial master. Remember, 1948, Malaya was a British colony. The
natives could be fighting for their freedom from colonial rule as well.
Some fought, some chose to live with the colonial master, some simply
did nothing, and some worked and conspired with the British against the
When the British outlawed the Labour Movement and started to arrest the
communist elements, the MPAJA was changed to MPABA, an anti British
Army. This was subsequently changed to the Malayan Peoples Liberation
Army fighting for the independence of Malaya from the British Empire.
History would look at Chin Peng differently if they had won and gained
independence for Malaya from the British. They lost that war and signed a
truce in 1955 in Baling. Malaya only gained independence from the
British in 1957. The CPM withdrew to the Thai Malayan border and kept a
low profile. The fact that a Thai Princess and many Thai generals paid
their last respect to Chin Peng spoke of a close and friendly working
relationship between them, and that Chin Peng was not a nuisance or
menace to Thailand. They regarded him as a friend.
Chin Peng was kept away from Malaysia more because of domestic political
reasons than for his revolutionary past. He could have been welcomed
back as a nationalist, a hero if he was a bumiputra. He was a soldier,
nothing more and nothing less. For some joker armchair critics to put
him in the same league as terrorists and the bombing of America is
simply a wild and cheap shot. Ever since the end of the Malayan
Emergency, Chin Peng and his men lived peacefully in Thailand and
probably became Thai citizens.
These are my comments on this historical figure of the twentieth century, one of the last survivors of those turbulent times.