December 24, 2019
A commentary by Zaidi Azmi
Tun Mohammed Hanif Omar’s voice cracked when he was about to deliver his keynote address at today’s anti-communist rally that was organised by an informal coalition of retired armed forces and police associations.
A momentary stillness ensued as the crowd at the Padang Merbok, Kuala Lumpur, waited attentively, for the former Inspector General of Police to regain his composure and voice a concern in which they all shared.
“It hurts my heart that they are those in the government who do not appreciate our sacrifices for the country,” Hanif finally spoke. His voice no longer cracked but it was still, a tad hoarse.
THE Tugu Negara, the monument that symbolises the Malaysian armed forces’ struggle against invaders, was where today’s anti-communism rally was to be held but unfortunately, such was not the case.
The authorities gave the organiser a flat “no”.
“They say the place is too small and ill-suited for gatherings. Yeah right,” said a member of the rally’s organising committee.
The rally came on the heels of suspicious episodes over supposedly subtle attempts to revive the communist ideology in Malaysia, with the most controversial one being the smuggling and scattering of Chin Peng’s ashes in November.
Chin Peng was the leader of the now defunct Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). He was exiled to Thailand after CPM staged the infamously brutal Malayan Communist Insurgency which lasted from 1968 to 1989.
Anti-communist enmity has been an on-and-off mainstay in Malaysia, especially so among the more conservative Malays, but tensions over it seemed to have flared ever since Pakatan Harapan won last year’s May 9 national poll.
The general contention was that the unprecedented victory against Barisan Nasional, that had uninterruptedly ruled the country for 60 years, had emboldened supporters of the CPM, to brazenly test the waters.
Although there are no official figures to confirm how many CPM sympathisers are supporters of Pakatan, the worry over tacit attempts to revive the communist ideology was not without merits.
In fact, just three months after the general election, a forum which mooted the idea of rewriting Malaysia’s history textbooks by way of inserting alternative narratives including the “CPM’s contribution for the country’s independence.”
Oh my. What a funny assertion to voice, especially so, given the fact that the CPM continued to wage war despite Malaya having already gained its independence in 1957.
And early this month, a controversial gathering to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Hatyai accord –the peace treaty that the CPM had ratified with the Malaysian government– was organised at a private college in Kajang by supporters of the CPM.
What made it infamous was the fact that DAP’s Ronnie Liu, an assemblyman from Pakatan, had openly admitted that his father was a communist who, like the police and the army, “also fought for the country’s independence.”
Former member of the CPM, Tan Yi Yu, was also present as a panel speaker at the gathering. He urged the audience to help correct the public’s perception towards the CPM, claiming that the party’s struggle was for Malaya’s democracy, freedom and peace.
“Any attempt to revive the communist ideology in any form whatsoever, we will crush it! No chance! Destroy CPM!” was the stern remark from KL deputy police chief Datuk Wong Pui Lam – at the rally today– who was also involved the drafting of the Hatyai accord.
While Liu and Tan had already been called by the police for their statements, those at the rally however – including former Inspector General of Police, Tun Mohammed Hanif Omar – doubted that cases such as this will be prosecuted by the Attorney-General (AG) Office.
Why? Simple. Because AG Tommy Thomas was Chin Peng’s lawyer in an unsuccessful litigation to bring the communist leader back to Malaysia.
Not only that, Thomas had also, in September 2013, penned a glowing obituary on the latter, stating that Chin Peng will be a major national icon “once the true history of Merdeka would be researched and published.”
“The police can probe but only the AG can prosecute. We must put the AG in the spotlight,” was Hanif’s clarion call.