What price Malaysia’s honour?

If it does not keep its part of the deal, it can only lead to one conclusion, which will have very far-reaching consequences on all future agreements.

By Debra Chong,The Malaysian Insider

Twenty years ago today, Malaysia made a pact to put an end to an armed conflict that was costing incalculable damage to lives and the country’s economy.

The two-document deal, inked in a small hotel in Hatyai, bore the names of Malaysia’s highest-level government officials, their Thai counterparts and the leaders of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).

The first document, termed the “Agreement Between The Government Of Malaysia And The Communist Party Of Malaya To Terminate Hostilities” was signed by the then home affairs ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Wan Sidek Wan Abdul Rahman, chief of defence forces General Tan Sri Hashim Mohd Ali and police inspector-general (IGP) Tan Sri Haniff Omar.A second document, detailing the terms and conditions of the peace treaty, was signed by then deputy IGP Datuk Rahim Noor and the director of Special Branch (SB) Datuk Zulkifli Abdul Rahman on behalf of Malaysia and Chin Peng (pic, left), the CPM secretary-general, and central committee comrade, Rashid Maidin, on the same day and in front of the Thai government.

The three-way treaty, also known as the Hatyai Peace Accord, was met with international support then.

In a nutshell, the two countries agreed to stop hunting down CPM members, who had been waging a jungle war against the governments for over 40 years.

The guerrillas were allowed to settle down and live peacefully in a country of their choice and their slates wiped cleaned.

In return, they must dispose off their weapons and swear to be loyal to King and country and follow the rule of law.

But today, the Federal government has gone back on its word in its repeated refusal to allow Sitiawan-born Chin Peng to return home and, in the process, may have caused irrevocable damage to Malaysia’s reputation as a democratic country.

Article 3 on the one-page first document states: “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.”

In the second document, the terms are laid out more clearly for those who want to live in Malaysia.

Ex-CPM members have a one-year grace period to decide where they want to live: in Malaysia, Thailand or elsewhere and arrangements shall be made to fulfil their wishes.

The Malaysian government is to supply the necessary identity cards to those who want to return; and shall replace the documents for those who lost theirs, after verification.

Chin Peng, who has since reclaimed his given birth name of Ong Boon Hua, had applied to return to Malaysia, which the IGP Haniff acknowledged in an NST report dated April 28, 1991.

“Chin Peng submitted his application quite late … towards the end of the period,” the English daily quoted him saying then.

On Sept 9 that same year, NST reported then Special Branch director Datuk Zulkifli Abdul Rahman as saying Chin Peng’s application “was being processed” and would be given the same treatment as the rest, after announcing that the first batch of 13 ex-CPM members had returned home.

The next day, IGP Haniff was reported saying Chin Peng’s application was being “studied.”

In the end, the cops denied the communist leader had ever put in his application to return.

Chin Peng mooted a suit in 2005 that also failed when the Federal Court upheld two lower court judgments requiring him to produce his birth certificate to prove his citizenship claim, despite his argument that he had lost them during World War II when he left home to fight the Japanese army.

The Malaysian Insider recently received a bundle of documents from Chin Peng’s lawyers, including copies of declassified information, which showed the government flipping and flopping over his status in the years that followed the signing of the deal.

Among them were documents to support his claims to having been born here, such as his parents’ Malaysian citizenship papers, his mother’s Malaysian passport and his only son’s Malaysian birth certificate.

Testimonies from key players behind the peace treaties also revealed that it was the Malaysian government that made the overt gesture to extend the olive branch to the communists even though it knew it would face strong objections from the people, especially staffers from the security forces.

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