Decision on Chin Peng’s ashes: Umno polls a cause?

Political analysts say the impending Umno polls is one of the reasons why Chin Peng’s ashes is barred from being brought to Malaysia.

Leven Woon, FMT

While debates surrounding the government’s barring of Chin Peng’s remains from being brought home continued, political analysts attributed the looming Umno polls as one reason behind the government’s harsh response.

Center for Policy Initiatives chief executive officer Lim Teck Ghee and Merdeka Centre executive director Ibrahim Suffian concurred that Umno polls on Oct 19 had influenced the government’s decision to prevent the return of former Malayan Communist Party leader’s remains to his homeland.

They also pointed out that the anti-communist sentiment had traditionally been inculcated in Umno, and that Umno wanted the public to subscribe to that value.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was quick to announce a blanket ban on the return of Chin’s remains to Malaysian soil when he died on Sept 16, with Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin joining the pack in demonising the deceased communist leader later in the day.

Lim said the ban was as a result of Umno leaders and supporters imposing their will on the government, and that Zahid’s statement that the government would not allow any group to glorify Chin as an independence fighter was simply political bluster, ahead of the Umno general assembly.

“Both Zahid and Najib have to be extra vocal and play the Malay card as much as possible to ensure that they do not lose out in the coming Umno general assembly.

“Had Chin Peng died in the run up to the last election, they may have considered the impact on Chinese voters and could have softened the tone,” he told FMT yesterday.

Lim, however, said Umno would have refused “at all times” the request of allowing Chin’s remains to return because it was part of Umno’s political ideology to view CPM and its members “in the worst possible light.”

Lim said this was despite many historians – local and foreign – having acknowledged Chin as a true independence fighter who went against the British and Japanese.