Malaysia's former communist leader Chin Peng, who died on Monday, regretted not being able to pay his last respects at his parents' grave in Perak, but accepted the consequences of his political actions.
"My comrades and I had dedicated our lives to a political cause that we believed in and had to pay whatever price there was as a result," he said in a letter written before he died in Bangkok. The letter was distributed at his wake last night. "Whatever consequences on ourselves, our family and the society, we would accept with serenity." Chin Peng, whose real name is Ong Boon Hua, led Malaya's communist forces in a protracted and bloody battle against the British colonial authorities and then the Malayan government more than 50 years ago. He died of cancer, aged 88.
Chin Peng, whom the Malaysian government still considers a terrorist, had tried but failed several times to return to his birthplace in Perak. His niece and nephew, as well as former comrades were at his wake in Bangkok's That Thong temple yesterday. At press time, his son and daughter, who are in their 60s, had yet to arrive.
His wife died five years ago. In his letter, titled "Last Wish", Chin Peng said he regretted having to be away from his children when they were young, and had to be introduced to them when they were adults. "Like families of many martyrs and comrades, they too have to endure hardship and suffering not out of their own doing." He said he had dedicated his life to fighting for a "fairer and better society" and wished "to be remembered simply as a good man who... had dared to spend his entire life in the pursuit of his own ideals to create a better world for his people".
As secretary-general of the Communist Party of Malaya, he helped British forces end the Japanese occupation of Malaya during World War II, but shortly after began a brutal guerilla campaign to drive out the British. More than 10,000 people lost their lives in the communist armed struggle, which ended only after a peace accord was signed in 1989. While some of the guerillas have since returned home, the Malaysian government drew the line at Chin Peng. His body is to be cremated on Monday evening.
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