ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Chin Peng: A Left wing Nationalist

Chin Peng should be remembered in Malaysian history as an ardent freedom fighter whose party – despite its failures in succeeding in its guerilla warfare against the British and the Malaysian state – sowed the seeds for labour organisation and resistance. 

The former secretary general of the Malaysian Communist Party (MCP), Chin Peng alias Ong Boon Hua died at the age of 88 in a private hospital in Bangkok on September 16, the day Malaysians celebrated their national day. It was on this same day, the Minister Mentor of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, celebrated his 90th birthday. According to his aide, Chin Peng will be cremated at Bangkok's Wat That Throng temple in a week's time. The news of Chin Peng’s death was carried in all the media in the country as well as abroad. Yet in Chin Peng’s own hometown of Sitiawan in the state of Perak, the people could only merely whisper about the passing away of this legend. Even though the MCP is gone, folks here are reluctant to talk openly about Chin Peng.

Like Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia, Malaya had its share of anti-imperialist/anti-colonial struggles in the 1940s and 1950s. In Vietnam it was led by the guerilla freedom fighter and communist Ho Chih Minh; in Indonesia it was led by (later President) Sukarno; and in Malaya it was under the leadership of Chin Peng. The MCP formed in the early 1930s first fought the Japanese and later the British. It is well known and acknowledged that without the contribution of the MCP, the British would have delayed the granting of political Independence in 1957. Today in Malaysia, the mention of Chin Peng's name brings about mixed feelings. While his foes think that he was a traitor and a murderer responsible for so many deaths during the civil war, others regard him as a freedom fighter, a patriot and a nationalist.

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