Synopsis & Background Information
In 2005, an 81-year-old man sued the Malaysian Government for denying him entry into the country of his birth. Chin Peng was the leader of the Malayan Communist Party, which waged the longest and most difficult war lasting more than 30 years, first to overthrow the British government and then against the Malaysian state.
When peace was finally secured in 1989, more than 200 guerillas returned to Malaysia. But Chin Peng was one of them. In fact there are many like him who remain in Southern Thailand, as stateless aliens, unable to step foot into the country they had given their lives dying for.
I Love Malaya is the story of their journey home.
Who were the Malayan Communist Party (MCP)?
The Malayan Communist Party, also known as the Communist Party of Malaya, was established in 1930. Their aim was to overthrow the British colonial government and to establish an independent People’s Republic of Malaya. Although the MCP was pre-dominantly Chinese, there was a Malay regiment, several Indian communists and even an Orang Asli unit.
What happened during the Malayan emergency?
The British colonial government declared a state of emergency in Malaya on 16 June 1948, after three English planters were killed in a series of communist attacks. More accurately, it was a guerrilla war launched by the MCP in a bid to free Malaya form colonial rule. The British took twelve years to quell the emergency at a cost of about £700 million.
Who is Chin Peng?
Chin Peng was then Secretary General of the MCP (right until the peace accords of 1989) and became the most wanted man in the British Empire during that period. Ironically, not long before the emergency he was awarded an OBE – Order of the British Empire, a highest honour, for his efforts against the Japanese in World War II. Chin Peng was born in Sitiawan, Perak and is married with two children.
When did the war end?
Although the Emergency ended in 1960, a protracted, low intensity war carried on between the MCP and the Malaysian government. An attempt was made at peace in 1956 when the soon-to-be leaders of Malaysia and Singapore – Tunku Abdul Rahman, David Marshall and Tan Cheng Lock – met with MCP leaders – Chin Peng, Chen Tien and Rashid Maidin in Baling, Kedah. Unfortunately the talks collapsed. The MCP retreated to the border jungles between Malaysia and Southern Thailand. The war only ended officially in 1989 when a tripartite peace agreement was signed between the MCP, the Malaysian government and the Thai authorities.
Where are the communists now?
When the peace accords were signed in 1989, MCP numbered close to 1,200 members comprising Malaysians, Singaporeans and Thais. Following that, more than 300 former comrades returned home to Malaysia as agreed under the terms of the agreement. But some 150 members originally from Singapore or Malaysia remained in Southern Thailand. Some did so by choice, some were barred for unknown reasons. They settled into villages funded by the Thai government under the patronage of the Thai Princess Chulaporn. There are four peace villages in all, housing the former MCP members and their families. Chulaporn Village No. 9 in Banlang and No. 10 in Betong are predominantly Chinese while Chulaporn Village No. 11 and 12 near Narathiwat house the former Malay regiment of the MCP.
More Information can be found in:
Chin, C. C. And Hack, Karl (ed), Dialogues with Chin Peng: New Light on the Malayan Communist Party, Singapore University Press, Singapore, 2004
Chin Peng, Ward, Ian and Miraflor, Norma, Alias Chin Peng: My Side of History, Media Masters, Singapore, 2003
Ratanachaya, Kitti, The Communist Party of Malaya, Malaysia and Thailand, Duangkaew Publishing House, Bangkok, 1996
Wong, Wing On, James, From Pacific War to Merdeka, Strategic Information Research Development, Malaysia, 2005