Abdullah should reconsider Chin Peng’s request to return home and table a White Paper in Parliament on the 14-year Haadyai Peace Accords 1989 between government and CPM as Chin Peng has stated very clearly in “My Side of History” that CPM had ceased all armed activities and he had honoured his end of the peace agreement
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): It is most unfortunate that there are two versions of what the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said on Sunday as the reason why the government would not allow former secretary-general of Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), Chin Peng, to visit or settle in Malaysia for the moment.
New Straits Times reported as the reason given by Abdullah that “he is still believed to have connections with an organization promoting violence and terrorism here” while The Star reported as reason he “was still linked to an organization which had a history of involvement in violent activities”.
Whatever the phraseology, the reason given by Abdullah raises the question as to whether the Haadyai Peace Accords 1989 between the Malaysian Government and the CPM for the latter to end its armed struggle had not been complied fully in the past 14 years as to justify the government’s outright rejection of the request by Chin Peng to visit or settle down in the country.
I have again re-read the last four chapters on Chin Peng’s “My Side of History” covering the Haadyai/Phuket Peace Talks culminating in the Haadyai Peace Accords Ceremony at Lee Gardens Hotel, Haadyai on December 2, 1989 where Chin Peng in Bahasa Malaysia announced to the world: “As Malaysian citizens, we pledge our loyalty to His Majesty the Yang di Pertuan Agong and the country. We shall disband our armed units and destroy all weapons to show our sincerity in terminating the armed struggle.”
In his final chapters, Chin Peng stated very clearly that CPM had ceased all armed activities and that had honoured his end of the peace agreement, e.g.:
“In early 1992, I officially informed the Thais that all CPM activities had ceased.” (p. 506)
“After meeting my end of the 1989 peace accords, I had looked forward to a homecoming. In late 1990 I made applications to settle down in Malaysia but was rejected at the end of December 1991. Some eight years later, in early 1999, a Special Branch officer in Yala asked me whether I would like to apply for a sightseeing tour. My reply was: Of course. I 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, half-way between Sitiawan and Lumut. This duty is still uppermost in my mind”. (p. 509)
His promise to Rahim Noor, who as Head of Police Special Branch had headed the Malaysian delegation, in the aftermath of the Phuket/Haadyai Peace Talks – “I would never again take up arms. Even if my followers urged me to do so, I would never again lead them in this direction.” (p. 503)
It is now 14 years since the Haadyai Peace Accords, and the time has come for Parliament, the people and country to be informed in greater detail about the negotiations and its secret terms as well as its implementation – especially as Chin Peng has provided several glimpses in his book on some hitherto unknown aspects of the history of the peace agreement, which the government has now a duty to give the Malaysian people a proper account.
In p. 485, Chin Peng wrote of his “demand” that in the Phuket/Haadyai Talks, “unlike Baling, all formal negotiating sessions should be open affairs”.
“This way the press could attend and report verbatim. Our rationale was that we had nothing to hide and were more than anxious to have our positions scrutinized publicly. This proposal was quickly rejected. It was argued that such an arrangement would not be beneficial to the smooth progression of the negotiations. We accepted this. However, there was general agreement to our second position that the final signing of any agreement reached must be done in an open place before the world press.
“We were all for having the entire agreement, if and when reached, openly and publicly declared. But the Malaysians would have none of this and made strong representations to the effect that some aspects must be kept classified. They maintained that there were issues far too sensitive to be placed in the public arena. With some reluctance, we eventually agreed to keep parts of the agreement secret.”
On the HaadyaI Peace Accord ceremony, Chin Peng wrote:
“As had been agreed during the Haadyai preliminary meetings, all documents would be signed at an official public ceremony. However, only the joint communiqué would be released to the world media. The two other peace documents – one between the Malaysian government and the CPM, the other between the Thai Internal Security Operations Command and the CPM – would remain classified.”
Abdullah should consider de-classifying the Haadyai Peace Accord with the CPM in the White Paper or furnish important extracts.
Another item which called for a response in the Government White Paper is Chin Peng’s account on the government’s acknowledgement of the CPM’s contribution to the attainment of national independence on 31st August 1957.
Chin Peng wrote:
“As it transpired, of the most important issues for us centred on whether the Malaysian government would recognise the CPM’s role in accelerating the independence process leading to Merdeka. Would Britain have granted independence to Malaya as early as 1957 had the military activists of our guerrillas not been a factor in the equation? This was explored at length during the private negotiating sessions. Finally, Rahim Noor, speaking in the Malay language from notes in a fully recorded meeting, made the announcement that Malaysia did not deny or dispute the CPM’s contribution to the struggle of independence. As to the extent of this contribution, he went on, there was no need to argue the matter in this forum. It should rightly be an issue left for historians.
“This subject was one of those considered too sensitive at the time to be made public. But it was an absolutely fundamental issue for the CPM. Otherwise, how could I assure my comrades that we had, at long last, come to an honourable settlement? Given Malaysian political sensitivities then, we had to be content in the knowledge that the CPM’s contribution to the independence process was finally recognized in a docment of history. It was enough for us to have had it recorded and to have heard it as we did. It was not written down. But it was most certainly video-taped. I hold a copy, as do both, the Thais and the Malaysians.” (p.490)
Is Abdullah prepared to allow MPs and political leaders access to this videotape?
According to Chin Peng, the CPM guerrilla strength during the Haadyai Peace Accords were 1,188 members, 694 of whom were Thai-born and 499 claimed origins in Peninsular Malaysia. Of those claiming roots south of the border, 402 were ethnic Chinese and 77 were Malays. He said that in the end, a total of 330 former CPM members came home to Malaysia. (p.491)
In the book, Chin Peng wrote of the difficulties faced initially by the CPM returnees in violation of the Haadyai Peace Accords:
“Following the arrival of our first batch of returnees in Malaysia, a very senior Malaysian police official openly assured the press there would be no interrogation, no prosecution and no detention of any of the home-coming former guerrilla fighters. He also affirmed that, once the returnees had regained their full citizenship, they would be quite free to participate in local politics and could even be elected to parliament. He was right. But he had divulged too much. The next day an even more senior top police officer publicly rebutted what had been said by his colleague. In future, the higher-ranking officer announced, all returnees would be requested to sign a document renouncing communism before Malaysia would properly accept them. If necessary, he added, this document would have to be signed in Thailand before entry to Malaysia could be permitted.
“From our standpoint this was a direct violation of the peace accord understanding. Then we learned that eight of our former comrades in the first batch moving from Thailand to Malaysia, after being allowed to travel up to their respective hometowns and villages, had been promptly rounded up. They had been taken to Kuala Lumpur. Reports reaching us detailed how, upon arrival in the Malaysian capital, the returnees had been instructed by Special Branch officers to sign a formal statement. They refused. After all, they had been told before leaving Thailand that everything had been ironed out and all documentation had been signed and sealed. There was no requirement for them to sign anything further once they reached home. Immediately we suspended the returnee programme while we sought clarification.” (p.502)
This episode calls for a response from the Government in a White Paper.
I call on Abdullah to reconsider Chin Peng’s request to return home and to table a White Paper in Parliament on the 14-year Haadyai Peace Accords 1989 between the government and CPM as Chin Peng has stated very clearly in “My Side of History” that CPM had ceased all armed activities and he had honoured his end of the peace agreement.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman