Call for a Ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday on whether government would allow Chin Peng to return home now in view of his advanced 79 years and not in another year’s time, after the next general election probably after 30th anniversary celebrations of establishment of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations next May
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): It has been reported by a Singapore press that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has agreed in principle to allow the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) Secretary-General, Chin Peng, 79, to return home to Malaysia, but only after the next general election – which means that the actual decision and the date would have to be made by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who takes over as the fifth Prime Minister in five weeks’ time.
Nanyang Siang Pau yesterday reported on the planned visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Malaysia next year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations in May 1974 and the speculation of the next general election being held after Wen Jiabao’s visit to Malaysia to exploit the “China card” in the polls – which was first exploited with great results for the Barisan Nasional in the 1974 general election.
If so, then we are talking about the eleventh general election being held after the 30th anniversary celebrations of the Malaysia-China diplomatic relations in May next year.
Does this mean that Chin Peng’s return home can only take place earliest in the second half of next year?
This will mean that Chin Peng will have to wait for at least another year before he could fulfil his wish to return home, especially to revisit his home town of Sitiawan.
It may be argued that having left Sitiawan for the Malayan jungles, the Malaysia-Thai border and China for the MCP armed struggle for more than half a century, another one-year wait to return home is not too long.
However, considering Chin Peng’s advanced age of 79, this is too long a wait, especially as he had been trying to return home in the past 14 years since the Haadyai Peace Accords between the Malaysian government and the MCP in December 1989 which ended the 41-year MCP armed struggle.
In his closing chapter of his recently-released biography “My Side of History”, which is quite a bestseller in the bookshops, Chin Peng wrote that “More and more these days, I think of Sitiawan and of the shophouse where I was born” and of how he had “looked forward to a homecoming in late 1990”.
He said he had 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 him whether he would like to apply for a sightseeing tour. His reply was: Of course. He indicated his wish to be allowed to visit his hometown so that he could pay homage to the graves of his grandfather, parents and his brothers in the Chinese cemetery, half-way between Sitiawan and Lumut.
In view of the recent press reports, DAP calls on Abdullah to make a Ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday on whether the government would allow Chin Peng to return home now in view of his advanced 79 years and not in another year’s time, after the next general election probably after the 30th anniversary celebrations of establishment of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations next May.
The Ministerial statement should also give a report on the 14-year Haadyai Peace Accords as well as the pertinent points and issues raised by Chin Peng in his book, “My Side of History”.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman