Kerfuffle at Penang airport over alleged smuggling of Chin Peng’s ashes

(MM) – A commotion broke out at the Penang International Airport late last night when local authorities mistakenly nabbed two men for allegedly carrying in the ashes of former Communist leader Chin Peng.

The suspicion turned out to be a false alarm, however, when it was discovered that the duo, who had arrived on a direct flight from Bangkok, Thailand, at about 10pm, were merely carrying paraphernalia in memory of the now-deceased leader.

As such, instead of ashes, the police only found printed materials, books and CDs about Chin Peng in the men’s luggage.

They were taken to the Bayan Baru police station for questioning under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984. As at 1am this morning, the duo were yet to be released.

Chin Peng’s body was cremated at the Bangkok Wat That Thong temple in Bangkok at about 6pm on Monday.

He had reportedly died in a Bangkok hospital on September 16 at 90 years old.

The leader’s death sparked controversy here, with several Umno leaders condemning him as a terrorist and others stressing his role in liberating the country from British colonial rule.

Umno-aligned broadsheet Utusan Malaysia claimed over the weekend that Chin Peng’s date of death had been manipulated to coincide with Malaysia Day to make it a memorable event, saying that he had actually breathed his last on September 15.

His family has since rubbished the claim.

Putrajaya has also insisted on prohibiting Chin Peng’s ashes from being brought into Malaysia, despite his last wish to be buried in his hometown in Sitiawan, Perak.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi reportedly said that Chin Peng was not a Malaysian citizen, and that allowing his remains into the country would lead to his veneration.

The MCA, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and even former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor, however, have told Putrajaya to respect the 1989 Hat Yai Peace Accord signed between Malaysia, Thailand and the CPM that allowed CPM members, who laid down their arms, to return to their homeland.

Lawyers have also said that there is no specific law that Putrajaya can use to bar Chin Peng’s ashes from being brought into Malaysia.

But Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had emphatically said that this would not be permitted.