Amazingly, PAS, yes, the Malaysian Islamic Party has taken the bold step of acknowledging that the Communist Party of Malaysia (CPM), now defunct, had also played a role in fighting for the independence of this country.
On Sunday, PAS party organ Harakahdaily.net posted an article by the PAS research centre, which said CPM had been active in its campaign for independence since its formation in May 1930.
It stated: “During the Japanese rule, (CPM secretary-general) Chin Peng and his comrades were one of the bravest groups to have fought against the Japanese.”
“They lived in the middle of the jungle, slept on the ground with only the sky as their roof in order to battle the Japanese and to search for true independence. Is it fair to ignore their contribution now?”
This is amazing stuff indeed. If you are new to Malaysian affairs, let me explain - here we have an Islamic Party, and not just any Islamic party but one with mostly Malay members, giving praise to the mostly Chinese communist freedom fighters.
Holy Bolok ;-), the PAS article even referred to the socialist term ‘comrade’. When ideological Antipodes such as PAS and the CPM can find some form of accommodation, albeit with one now completely defunct and silent, it’s a new era.
Or, if we are cynical, could it be just a PAS manoeuvre to diminish or even deny the hitherto UMNO-claimed primacy of its role in the fight for the nation’s freedom?
The PAS think-tank said the CPM’s struggle did not end with the Japanese as they also waged an armed struggle against the British for independence. Well, we all are aware of the Emergency, though the government would tell you those years were a communist terrorist campaign.
The PAS article said while CPM wanted to form a communist state - which was naturally rejected by both the Malay community (except for a few) and Islam - it is however wrong not to acknowledge the party’s contribution to the nation's quest for independence.
Now it wants the proper recording of such historical events and facts, minus the deliberate and dishonest marginalisation of the CPM's contribution.
It said that the historical record of our nation’s struggle should not be confined to only those at the negotiation table (meaning UMNO), but also encompass those who were willing to give up their lives to fight for independence.
It stated: “Before Tunku Abdul Rahman chanted ‘Merdeka’ on Aug 31, 1957, the call was already resonating, and many historical episodes were being played not only by UMNO and the Alliance.”
"CPM and banned Malay nationalist parties took up arms against the British. Abdullah CD, Rashid Mydin, Shamsiah Fakeh and Musa Ahmad were among the leaders who fought for independence."
Well, today Malay communists like Abdullah CD and wife have been happily rehabilitated in Malaysia while Chin Peng remains banned from the country despite an official agreement that all would be forgiven after the CPM gave up arms following its peace treaty with the governments of Malaysia and Thailand, signed on Dec 2, 1989.
PAS of course wants to diminish UMNO’s role and perhaps court the Chinese voters by its demonstration of honest historical fairness. It is assuming that Chinese Malaysians are sympathetic to the CPM and thus Chin Peng.
But I reckon a new generation has supplanted those new villagers of yonder years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some young new villagers don’t even know who Chin Peng is. In fact, many young Malays would be equally uninterested, except that UMNO leaders would keep reminding them of UMNO's struggle against the evil of the communist insurgents.
It’s like frightening bored and naughty little children into compliance with threats of carnivorous dinosaurs like the velociraptors. Those creatures may be extinct but still have a use.
But yes, notwithstanding its political motive, PAS has made a humongous ground breaking step in its acknowledgement of the CPM's fight for Malayan freedom from colonial rule.