KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — The MCA has renewed calls for Putrajaya to allow Chin Peng’s burial in Malaysia, saying that the Communist leader should be given the same treatment as other deceased Malaysians with dubious pasts.
While MCA’s Datuk Heng Seai Kie acknowledged the contention over Chin Peng’s past, she hinted that the government’s refusal to let the ethnic Chinese’s remains enter the country could be viewed as a racially motivated decision.
“Whether Chin Peng is a hero or not is not an issue here. In fact, you do not need to be a hero to be allowed a burial in Malaysia,” the MCA publicity chief wrote in a statement today, pointing out that two suspected Malay terrorists who were allegedly behind a series of bombings were buried in Malaysia.
She was referring to Dr Azahari Husin and Nordin Mohamad Top, who had been pursued by the Indonesian authorities for their suspected roles in bombings in Bali and Jakarta.
“The Barisan Nasional government does not need any more bad publicity of being seen as making decisions based on racial lines,” she added.
Heng added that there was no law barring the fulfilment of an individual’s dying wish to be buried in Malaysia.
“Born and bred in Malaya, everyone, including Chin Peng has the right to be interred in Malaysia. On humanitarian grounds, we should honour this nonagenarian’s last wishes. After all, what harm can his ashes do to the country?
“On the other hand, there are no laws in this country which forbids anyone who intends to have last rites and his resting place here.”
Heng said Putrajaya should uphold its integrity by honouring the Hat Yai peace treaty, a three-way agreement signed in 1989 between Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) and the Malaysian and Thai governments.
The agreement allowed CPM members who have laid down their arms, such as Chin Peng, to return to Malaysia.
“Furthermore, since other Communist Party of Malaya leaders like Syed Hamid Ali and Shamsiah Faekah were allowed to return to reside in Malaysia, why not the same be applied to Chin Peng?” she asked, referring to two Malay communist leaders.
Chin Peng died in Bangkok, Thailand on Monday at the age of 88 after spending his final years there in exile.
Chin Peng wanted to be buried in Sitiawan, his hometown in Perak, but the Malaysian government had strongly rejected the idea immediately after his death, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak previously labelling him a “terrorist leader that waged war on the nation”.
Chin Peng’s aide had reportedly confirmed that the former CPM secretary-general will be cremated according to Buddhist rites in Bangkok next Monday.
Yesterday, Najib said Putrajaya will not send representatives to attend Chin Peng’s funeral and insiste that the government will not allow his remains to enter Malaysia.
“We do not pay respects to people who are responsible for the deaths of thousands of people,” he said, referring to the decades-long bloody insurgency by the Communists that lasted until the Hat Yai Peace Accord in 1989.
Najib said he had personally gone through details of the accord, and confirmed that CPM members who agreed to the terms had to apply for citizenship within one year of the signing of the agreement.
“He refused to do that and did not do anything to pursue it, so his rights have expired. He has relinquished his rights,” he said of the government’s refusal to recognise Chin Peng as a Malaysian citizen.