The issue of Chin Peng recently cropped up again. For the second time running, the court blocked an attempt to have Chin Peng’s side of the story litigated. Tun Hanif Omar and Tan Sri Rahim Noor are divided. Now, let us go back to some basics, and you decide for yourself:
Speculation about Chin Peng’s return has ranged from humanitarian grounds to an internationally recognised right to return to one’s country of birth.
Opposition to Chin Peng’s wish to visit Malaysia is made up of those who say he has caused untold suffering and bloodshed as well as it constituting a threat to Malay rights and privilege.
Chin Peng’s rights are contained in a solemn pact entered into between the Malaysian Government and the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) in 1989. It is also known in short as the “Peace Accord” which essentially is made up of two (2) distinct agreements and one tripartite statement:
(i) Agreement dated Dec 1, 1989 between the Government of Malaysia and the Communist Party of Malaya to Terminate Hostilities (the Agreement);
(ii) Administrative Arrangement between the Government of Malaysia and the Communist Party of Malaya Pursuant to the Agreement (the Arrangement); and
(iii) Joint Communique by the Government of Malaysia, the Government of Thailand and the Communist Party of Malaya.
Chin Peng’s right to enter and reside in Malaysia and also to visit our country which is, unquestionably, his country as well.
Specifically, Chin Peng wants to draw to the Cabinet’s attention the spirit in which the abovementioned Agreements were signed 20 years seven months ago. Through such an innovative and courageous process initiated by Malaysia, all those directly involved, from then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad (as he then was) down, appeared to have achieved what had obviously eluded former colonial masters for decades.
Internationally, the clear indications were that our country had recorded a monumentally important passage to peace. It was a passage which could easily serve as a vital template in today’s deeply divided world. This Peace Accord is Malaysia’s finest hour and might well be used to boost Malaysia’s international image as “peace-maker extraordinaire”.
Under the “Peace Accord” the Agreement dated 1.12.1989, apart from agreeing to terminate hostilities, provided that members of the CPM of Malaysian origin and who wish to settle down in Malaysia shall be allowed to do so.
Article 3 of the Agreement — Residence in Malaysia
3.1 Members of the Communist Party of Malaya and members of its disbanded armed units, who are of Malaysian origin and who wish to settle down in MALAYSIA, shall be allowed to do so in accordance with the laws of Malaysia.
Item 4.2 of the Agreement:
Those who have settled down in THAILAND are free to enter MALAYSIA through legal means to visit their relatives, friends and for vacation.
During the 3rd round of the Tripartite Peace Talks in Phuket on May 11-13, 1989, the following was minuted:
8.4 Guarantee of Personal Safety and Freedom
The Malaysian delegates guaranteed the personal safety of CPM members who may be resettled in Malaysia and assured that such members will enjoy the same privileges as all other citizens once their citizenship status has been reinstated in the spirit of this Agreement …
During the 4th round of the Tripartite Peace Talks in Phuket on Oct 2-3, 1989, the following was minuted:
Para 8.2.1 The restoration of Citizenship Status for those who are Malaysian citizens does not arise because the Government had not revoked their citizenship in the first instance; and
Para 8.3.1 The Government has not taken action to revoke the citizenship of CPM members except for the category of persons who had left the country to avoid national service. Therefore, the restoration of citizenship is not an issue …
At the 5th round held on Nov 2-4, 1989, the closing speech by the Malaysian Head of the Negotiating team, Datuk Rahim Noor, is particularly instructive:
Para 28 There would be terms written in black and white and those which could not be written. Combined together, the Parties could carry out the Agreement in its true spirit.
These eager pledges of honour and mutual respect sprang from the atmosphere of trust which led to the successful signing of the historic Peace Accord. Throughout the negotiations, the term which kept repeating itself was “spirit of the agreement” whereby it could be safely concluded, or assumed by all concerned, that pledges made would be kept and honoured.
Therefore, regardless of whether Chin Peng is or is not in possession of a birth certificate, the Accord allows him to visit Malaysia.
The Home Ministry now says that Chin Peng is not allowed to return home to reside permanently because he did not make an application to do so or that he did not attend the interview when requested.
The issue is not permanent residence alone. Because Chin Peng has also requested to return to visit his parents’ grave and the answer was a firm NO in the government’s letter dated 25.10.2004.
Nevertheless, in so far as there is any suggestion that Chin Peng failed to make the application, the NST of 9.9.1991 is on record that Chin Peng’s application was being processed.
Coming now to the court proceedings filed by Chin Peng. The long and short of it is that Chin Peng never had his day in court. It was struck off because he failed to produce his birth certificate. By a procedural side-wind, the terms of the Peace Accord were therefore not construed or interpreted by the court.
The fact therefore remains that the terms of the Peace Accord have been breached by the Malaysian Government. To date, no convincing reason has been given as to why Chin Peng cannot visit Malaysia as per Article 3 and Item 4.2 of the Agreement.
The decision delivered by Balia J. rejecting Chin Peng’s suit to restrain the Government of Malaysia “verbally abusing” the CPM after the Peace Accord is similarly disturbing in view of the clear language used. Item 1.2 states that all statements by either party henceforth should not contain slanderous remarks such as “capitulation” or “mass surrender”. In other words, hostile language should be avoided.
In plain English, “such as” means for example. Any ordinary English-speaking person would understand that it means that. Everyone understands, except…?
Geronimo's Take: If our Federal Constitution, an agreement built on national consensus, could be worked over many times to suit the whims and fancies of UMNO, why am I not surprised that they would not even honour a straight forward agreement like the Haadyai Accord with Chin Peng? The NEP is the other one. It was supposed to have lapse in 1990, but hey presto, it is being extended. It is extremely frustrating whenever goalposts are moved at UMNO's convenience. After signing the agreement, lame excuses like ".....he has caused untold suffering and bloodshed as well as it constituting a threat to Malay rights and privilege." The way it was stated was like, they have just found out the reason yesterday long after they have signed the accord, and today, they told Chin Peng, no no you cannot come home because of blah, blah, blah and more blah. It is my guess that right from the beginning, UMNO had no plans to allow Chin Peng to return but they went ahead with the signing of the Accord wanting the best of both worlds, er ... have the cake and eat it at the same time, i.e. putting Chin Peng out of business by him ceasing to be hostile or whatever, and at the same time, saving the military $$$$$ for national development. An agreement is an agreement and if one party does not honour it, then princples, trust, integrity and credibility - all fly out of the window. Now the nation's honour is at stake because of this and the courts are busy doing damage control to come out with all sorts of cock & bull reasons for not allowing Chin Peng to return. So if the Malays especially those from the armed forces are unhappy, don't blame Chin Peng, blame the party/person who inked the agreement on behalf of the government.
Strangely, one thing that came to mind. Why are Malay CPM leaders allowed to return and not Chin Peng? Are our people trying to tell us that a Malay CPM member kills differently from that of a Chinese CPM? Killing is killing, be it by a Malay CPM, an Indian CPM or a Chinese CPM member. How could UMNO differentiate one from the other is something I cannot fathom? In fact, I find this really amusing and insulting the intelligence of the average Malaysians.
BTW, I am no fan of Chin Peng as one of my dearest friends, the late Capt Hardev Singh of the Sarawak Rangers, was killed by the CTs at the Thai border in 1974, just one week before his first wedding anniversary.