Chin Peng – his book and return: Zainuddin should be responsible and rational and not sensationalise or make baseless accusations or he would be questioning the rationale and legitimacy of a Mahathir legacy - the 1989 Haadyai Peace Accords

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(PenangTuesday): Deputy Information Minister Datuk Zainudin Maidin said yesterday  that he was  amazed that there are Malaysians who are campaigning for the return of Chin Peng, the former secretary-general of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).

He said Chin Peng was no hero who struggled for the country's independence, but rather a communist terrorist who committed murders in cold blood during the Malayan Emergency -- 1948-1960.

He said: "We have to remember Chin Peng is a communist. Once a communist always a communist. He is a rebel and a traitor to this country,"

He went on to falsely or wrongly imply  that I am campaigning for Chin Peng’s return, adding that “Lim Kit Siang also appears determined that the book should be read".

Zainuddin should be responsible and rational and not sensationalise or make baseless accusations on the question of Chin Peng’s book “My Side of History” and the issue of his return or visit to his hometown in Sitiawan, or he would be questioning the rationale and legitimacy of a Mahathir legacy – the  1989 Haadyai Peace Accords.

On 23rd September, I had said that one of the unfinished tasks which Datuk Seri Dr.  Mahathir Mohamad should  do before he steps down as Prime Minister at the end of October is  to honour the 1989 Haadyai Peace Accords with the CPM and allow Chin Peng to return home to Malaysia. 

I said: “DAP commends the government for not banning Chin Peng’s book ‘My Side of History’ which should be a must reading for all political leaders and  Malaysians  to understand an important part of the Malaysian history – whatever one’s judgment of Chin Peng and the MCP armed insurrection.”

Zainuddin should explain what is wrong with my two statements and why is he  making such a mountain out of a molehill, moving heavy artillery against me as if I have become a convert to the cause of CPM armed struggle and leading a nation-wide campaign to hero-worship Chin Peng, sell his book and ensure his return or visit to Sitiawan?

I always believed that Mahathir’s  “The Malay Dilemma” is a “must read” for Malaysians, particularly political leaders, but does that make me a follower and hero-worshipper of Mahathir?

Even Zainuddin’s “Mahathir Di Sebalik Tabir”, written to get back into Mahathir’s good books after being dismissed as Chief Editor of  Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd from 1982-1992, is a “must read” for the insights into Mahathir’s thoughts and deeds, such as Zainuddin’s revelation that Mahathir’s opposition to  Bapa Malaysia and first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman pre-dated Merdeka in 1957, as in the choice of the Malay folk tune Terang Bulan as the national anthem “Negaraku”.

But this does not make me an admirer of Zainuddin!  Zainuddin is supposed to be a man of letters and it is very sad that he is incapable of understanding such a simple distinction.

The crucial question here is whether the Haadyai Peace Accords provide for Chin Peng’s return or visit to his Sitiawan hometown, as Chin Peng  implies  in his book. This is why I had called for a White Paper or Ministerial statement in Parliament on the 14-year Haadyai Peace Accords 1989 as Malaysians are entitled to know, among other things, 

  • Whether CPM had honoured the peace agreement to cease all armed activities;
  • Whether Chin Peng had honoured his end of the agreement, and if so, why he is not allowed to visit the country when some 330 former CPM guerrillas  had come home to Malaysia after the Haadyai Peace Agreement;
  • Whether it is true, as Chin Peng recounted in his book “My Side of History” that the Malaysian government, through its chief representative at the Haadyai Peace negotiations,  Rahim Noor (then head of Special Branch) had acknowledged CPM’s contribution to the attainment of national independence on 31st August 1957, and that  there are videotapes which had recorded this official acknowledgement.

Zainudin said Chin Peng is a traitor to the country and that “once a communist, always a communist”.

But he never expressed such sentiments when two top CPM leaders, Musa Ahmad former CPM Chairman and Shamsiah Fakir, head of the CPM Women’s Wing, returned to Malaysia in the nineties and were given big media play, particularly by the Malay media.

Zainudin’s view of CPM leaders as traitors of the country is only one view of Malaysian history, as there is another view in the universities and among  Malaysians regardless of race or political beliefs which  though disagreed with the CPM armed struggle and deplored the loss of lives  and human sufferings of  ex-servicemen, civilians and their loved ones, regard them as nationalists who had chosen the wrong path of nationalist struggle. 

If Chin Peng is a traitor to Malaysia, why then did Mahathir and the Malaysian government deal with him to reach the Haadyai Peace Accords 1989 and why had the head of the Malaysian delegation, Rahim Noor, acknowledged CPM’s contribution to the attainment of national independence on 31st August 1957? 

In his book, Chin Peng said that under the Haadyai Peace Accords, every CPM guerrilla who opted to return to Malaysia from southern Thailand would be paid a lump sum of RM8,000 by  the Malaysian Government.  He said: 

“There was a similar problem of usage when it came to discussing the ‘gratuitites’ for our ‘disbanding armed units’.  The Malaysians wanted the term ‘monthly allowance’.  It was agreed that each disbanding guerrilla opting to return to Malaysia would receive from the Federal government a lump sum of RM8,000. This would be paid in two instalments. The first RM3,000 would be made available on their immediate return. The remaining RM3,000 would be paid after three years.  At first we objected to the split payment scheme.  We were well aware of the reasoning behind the measure. It was both a matter of control and a test of our sincerity and goodwill.  As I understand it, all outstanding final payments of RM5,000 were settled without complication. In addition, the returning guerrillas were paid a monthly allowance of RM300 for a period of three years. These funds were allocated to help them re-establish themselves in modern Malaysian society.  In the end, a total of 330 former CPM members went home to Malaysia.”

If the CPM guerrillas were  “traitors”, why did Mahathir and the  Malaysian Government agree to pay them RM8,000 each for those who opted to return to Malaysia from southern Thailand?  From Chin Peng’s account, each returning guerrilla would have been paid RM10,800, taking into account the RM300 monthly payments for three years after the initial RM5,000 payment. This Federal Government payment of RM8,000 or RM10,800 to each CPM guerrilla who opted to return to Malaysia under the Haadyai Peace Accords 1989 was never approved by Parliament, as it had never been revealed until the publication of Chin Peng’s book.  Is the government prepared to seek retrospective approval of Parliament for the payments?

Instead of indulging in sensationalism and irresponsible accusations and insinuations, Zainudin should be playing his role to enable the country to deal with the issues of Chin Peng’s book and his proposal to return or visit his Sitiawan hometown in a rational and mature manner – as rash and ill-considered outbursts  by him will only reflect adversely  on Zainudin.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman