Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has questioned the motives of those playing up the repatriation of the remains of Chin Peng, while A-G Tommy Thomas hits back at Annuar Musa over Chin Peng barb.
“He is already dead. Many people tortured us in the past, like the Japanese. Let’s forget the past. And he cannot do anything now; it is just his ashes,” he said, referring to the former Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) leader.
Dr Mahathir pointed out other Communist Party of Malaya leaders had returned to Malaysia without a fuss.
“It is not like we can do anything, only his cremains have returned. We have allowed Shamsiah Fakeh to returned and no one complained, perhaps because she is a Malay. Rashid Maidin too came back to Malaysia.”
Shamsiah spent nearly 40 years in exile in China prior to her return to the country in 1994. She died in 2008 at the age of 84.
“There are others whom we accepted but not Chin Peng because he is the leader.
“Yes, we know the guerrillas fought a war, and they have killed many people in the war. We killed many people too. So, what is the point of raising issues like this? Who are we appeasing?
“Are you telling us to pick up his cremains and send him back (to Thailand)? These petty things are being dug up to cast the government in a bad light.”
Dr Mahathir said this, rubbing his forehead a few times when asked to comment on the issue, at a press conference while on a working visit to South Korea, which was broadcast live by RTM.
The prime minister lamented that people were trying to find fault with his administration, claiming “everything is wrong” in what they did.
Meanwhile, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas has not taken kindly to Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa’s insinuation that he had a role in the action of a group that brought back Chin Peng’s cremated remains into Malaysia.
“Is Annuar suggesting that I have used my current position as the attorney-general to facilitate the return of Chin Peng’s ashes?
“Let me remind him that such remarks can be construed as defamatory,” he said.
Thomas said that it was the Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition that entered into negotiations with Chin Peng and the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) in 1989.
“Talks were initiated by the BN government under Dr Mahathir Mohamad, led by former inspector-general of police Abdul Rahim Noor who was then the Special Branch chief, and the treaty was signed in 1989.
“If Chin Peng was considered such an evil man, why did the Malaysian government negotiate with him and sign an agreement with the CPM?
“The government honoured the agreement and allowed former CPM leaders, such as Rashid Maidin and Abdullah CD, to return to Malaysia but not Chin Peng.
“So, what is wrong with Chin Peng taking the matter to court and hiring Malaysian lawyers to represent him?” he said.
“I acted for the late Chin Peng in 2008. I was counsel along with Raja Aziz Addruse, while Chin Peng also had a solicitor on record.
“Even Chin Peng is allowed to hire lawyers in Malaysia for legal proceedings,” he added.
Thomas said he had also written an obituary for Chin Peng when he died in 2013, which is public knowledge.
Earlier, a National Patriots’ Association (Patriots) member urged the nation to move on over Chin Peng’s ashes.
Veteran serviceman Capt (rtd) Dr Wong Ang Peng was wounded in battle with the communists but said he has no issue with the return of Chin Peng’s ashes to Malaysia.
“Personally, I have no anger towards him, even though I was injured by an enemy bullet sustained in the Gunung Korbu incident on June 1, 1979.
“We have to learn to let go. Chin Peng has long passed away (and) his ashes brought back by his relatives is their private matter. He merely occupies a historical part where our nation had a tough beginning and was trapped in between the influence of rising communist ideology and Western capitalism.
“That part of history is gone. Communism has no significance in today’s fast-growth and explosive wealth creation. Chin Peng is history, let it rest,” Wong was quoted as saying.
Another former uniformed personnel without any issue with the return of Chin Peng’s ashes is former inspector-general of police Abdul Rahim Noor, who signed the peace treaty with CPM on behalf of Malaysia.
Rahim highlighted the terms of the treaty allowing the return of CPM leaders to Malaysia and said since the agreement allowed for this, the return of Chin Peng’s ashes should not be made a problem.
“The peace agreement itself showed that the country wanted to let bygones be bygones and move forward after peace was achieved. And since the treaty was signed, there was no sign of any attempt by the communist members to revive their struggle or set up a new communist party,” he was quoted saying.
He added the treaty permitted all CPM leaders to return to Malaysia, including Chin Peng, provided they did not revive their struggle.
“So, if Chin Peng was allowed to come back, what is it with all these noises saying that his ashes should not be allowed here? All Malaysians should look at this issue based on the existence of the Hat Yai Peace Accord signed with CPM in 1989.”
Rahim also took a pot-shot at those who created a hoo-ha over the return of Chin Peng’s ashes.
He said they were either ignorant of the peace accord or are being racist, or that they purposely declined to accept the fact that the communist ideology was no longer accepted.
Meanwhile, the coordinator of the group that brought back Chin Peng’s cremated remains has expressed bemusement over the authorities’ reaction.
Chai Kan Fook said he and his group merely wanted to fulfil Chin Peng’s last wish to return home.
“We’re old and just want to spend our days peacefully, bring back Chin Peng’s remains, and bring the whole issue to a close with a small announcement,” he was quoted as saying.
Chai, 81, claimed his actions promoted peace and said only “extremists” were unhappy about the move.
He also dismissed claims that the move could trigger a revival of communism in Malaysia.
“Can a dead man’s cremains be used to revive (communism)?
“An urn of cremains is all it takes to revive communism? That’s just too much! This is ridiculous, why make such a fuss?”
Chai said he and his friends were too old to carry out any communist activity.
“How are we, at the ages of 70 and 80, going to revive communism? In two years or so we’ll be gone.”
Related report: Nov 27, Police Investigating Group That Brought in Chin Peng Ashes