PETALING JAYA - If anyone is still nursing a grudge against the communists, it should be Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Leng. The former special branch officer was shot in the chest by them back in 1951.
Members of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) even tried to kidnap Yuen's daughter when he became the Perak police chief in 1975, an event that led him to send her to the United Kingdom for the sake of her safety.
Yuen, 86, however, has chosen to forgive them and said he respects Chin Peng as a man who has died.
"If anybody has a good reason to hate them, I should be one of those people, but I am born to be more forgiving. I believe you cannot have too much resentment and anger in your heart," said Yuen who spent 34 years in the police force, the bulk of them fighting the CPM.
According to Yuen, despite what the communists did to him, he had even tried to convince them to come out of the jungle and rejoin society.
Not surprisingly, he believes that the ashes of Chin Peng should be allowed home, but recognises that it would not be easy as there were many people who were killed by the communists.
"Families would find it very hard to forget that their husbands, brothers and sisters were killed," he said, adding that political realities would also not allow the former secretary-general of CPM to be laid to rest in Malaysia.
"The man is dead and I believe every religion teaches people to be forgiving. Yet when politics comes in, we ignore our own respective religions," said Yuen, who nonetheless stressed that while the communists were fighting for independence, they were doing it to form a communist state.
Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) national chairman Dr Nasir Hashim holds the view that Chin Peng was one of the pioneers in the struggle for independence as he fought against the colonial masters - first the Japanese, and then the British.
"If history is rewritten, he has a place in the country's history in the struggle for independence. His struggle for independence was more genuine," said Dr Nasir, who believed the Malaysian Government backtracked on its initial agreement to allow him home after they signed a peace treaty in December 1989.
Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar said Chin Peng's death marked the end of an era.
"He was a resourceful leader in difficult times," he said, adding that whatever Chin Peng did was for the greater good of the people.
"He did not intend to make himself or his cronies rich. It was for the benefit of the country," he said, reiterating that if there was no armed struggle, the British might not have given Malaya independence.
Former special branch deputy director of operations Datuk Dr Leong Chee Woh declined to say whether Chin Peng's remains should be allowed back, but was unequivocal in his pronouncement that he was a traitor.
"He might have fought against the Japanese and British, but he also fought against the country after it achieved independence. He wanted to give it to Communist China," he said.