- POSTED: 20 Sep 2013 16:25
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Former Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng died on Monday but Malaysia has denied the return of his remains to the country.
KUALA LUMPUR: In Malaysia, the death of Chin Peng has divided the nation.
While some branded him as a communist terrorist, others see him as a national icon.
Whatever the case, the Malaysian government maintains that remains of the former Malayan Communist Party (MCP) leader won't be allowed into the country.
Chin Peng, the 88 year old leader of the now defunct MCP leader, died on Monday as the nation celebrated Malaysia Day.
For some, he is remembered as the national icon who fought for independence from British rule.
For others, Chin Peng was a terrorist, responsible for killing thousands of Malay servicemen and police, the cause of suffering for many.
And it is because of this that the Malaysian government is adamant Chin Peng's remains must not be allowed to enter the country.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said: "If you see in that in the context of how the Americans treated Osama bin Laden, you know. You could see that Chin Peng died a natural death. Osama bin Laden was singled out, and he was killed and his body was just thrown into the sea. That's what the Americans did in the case of Osama bin Laden."
Mr Najib also denied that the government was in breach of the 1989 Hatyai peace accord as Chin Peng had failed to apply for Malaysian citizenship within the stipulated one year period.
He said: "He has relinquished his rights. On humanitarian grounds, there are different opinions in the country, I realise that. But you mustn’t forget -- the victims of the communists, they are very, very emotional.”
When asked if that means the government is ignoring Chin Peng’s contributions in having fought against the British and the Japanese, Mr Najib answered: “No, no. I mean you have to weigh that against the fact that he killed, he was responsible for killing thousands of military, police and civilians."
But some argue that it is time to let bygones be bygones.
Political commentator Marina Mahathir said: "You know, if we complain about what the US did to Osama bin Laden's body then perhaps we shouldn't do the same ourselves."
Observers say the outpouring of emotions is to be expected, given that many survivors of the bloody communist insurgency are still alive.
Dr Yeah Kim Leng, a columnist, said: "I think emotions as well as memories are still relatively raw in this case, but what we feel here is that, I think history will be kinder to Chin Peng's contributions. But I think the latter part of his contributions perhaps has been viewed as more controversial, and I think it will take another generation for his contributions to come to light and perhaps to be seen in a better perspective."
While his deeds are still the subject of much debate in this country, Chin Peng has certainly left his mark as one of the most controversial political figures in Malaysia's history.