Surrender means humiliation -Chin Peng. Monday, Jan. 9, 1956
Sunday, September 24, 2006
On a mountain top in Malaya last week, John Davis waited for an old wartime friend. Davis had slipped into Malaya by submarine during the Japanese occupation, fought as a guerrilla against the Japanese with the man he was now waiting for: Chin Peng, Chinese-educated leader of Malaya's Communists. After World War II had come a parting of the ways: after marching in the victory parade in London, Chin Peng had gone back to the jungle to continue his guerrilla war, this time against the British and the Malayans; Davis had become a senior district officer in the government of Malaya. As Davis watched the jungle, two scouts walked across the border from Thailand; then came Chin Peng. No longer the slight, pimply youth of the World War II underground, Chin was now a pudgy, soft-faced 34. Laughing, he shook hands with Davis. Said Davis, in Chinese: "Long time no see."
It had, in fact, been something over eight years since non-Communist eyes had rested on Chin Peng. In that time, Chin and his force of 6,000 Communist terrorists had bobbed up all over Malaya, killed some 3,000 unarmed citizens and 2,000 police and soldiers. Running after Chin and repairing his disruptive work had cost the British (who still control Malaya's security and defense forces) a fabulous $1.4 billion. They had put a price of $82,500 on Chin's head, reduced it to $9,900 as the strength of his forces was halved and Chin's value declined. Though far from licked, the terrorists, driven into the remotest jungles, had been forced to set up their headquarters across the border in Thailand.
Recognition. To bring the war to an end, Prince Abdul Rahman (the Tengku), Chief Minister of Malaya's newly elected government, offered to surrendering terrorists an amnesty guaranteeing safe conduct, fair treatment, a pardon, or safe passage to Red China if desired. But he did not promise legal recognition to the Malayan Liberation Army, Chin's name for his Communist outfit. Chin made propaganda out of what he called the "peace negotiations," just as the British had warned the Tengku he would. When at last Chin rejected the amnesty offer, the Tengku was still hopeful, if only he could explain the amnesty terms personally to Chin Peng. Said he: "I am going to listen with an open heart to all Chin Peng has to say." Out of the jungle came a letter from Chin demanding that anti-terrorist activity be suspended over 400 square miles of northern jungle in order to give him safe conduct.
Once Davis and Chin had met, the Englishman led the way down the mountain to the village where Chief Minister Rahman, the colony of Singapore's Chief Minister David Marshall and Sir Cheng-lock Tan, president of the Malayan Chinese Association, were waiting. But first Chin asked to wash up, demanded five sets of fresh underwear, instructed the three servants who had come out of the jungle with him to cook a Chinese meal. Then he went in with his two lieutenants to listen to a four-hour speech by Chief Minister Rahman on the futility of continuing the war. When the Tengku had finished, Chin blandly demanded recognition of the Communist Party. The next day Chief Minister Rahman repeated his lecture and, getting nowhere, was soon shouting angrily: "If the Communists were in power ... I would not indulge in an armed struggle against the government because I love the people and seek their welfare." Chin countered that as long as the British controlled the security forces, the Tengku was not independent. Said the Tengku: "We cannot give the Communist Party equal status and let the events in China, Korea and Viet Nam recur here. Malaya is too small a country to be divided into warring factions."
Over and over the Tengku repeated the only terms on which the Communists would be allowed to return to the commu nity: they must surrender, disband armed forces, and abolish the Communist Party. After surrender they would each be subjected to a loyalty investigation and would be restricted to a specific area of the country, but once investigated, most would be allowed to enter political life again so long as they did not pursue a Communist line. Said Chin: "I and my people will never submit to investigation."
Humiliation. Here Singapore's David Marshall took a hand: "As a human being, I ask you to realize that there are 7,000,000 people in Malaya and 3,000 Communists. I appeal to you to think of their welfare and to accept the sacrifice of your pride in the mild humiliation which you state is implied in the investigation of the loyalty of M.C.P. members before their release." Said Chin: "To report to the police means surrender." Snapped the Tengku: "I will never give in, so you must give in." Replied Chin: "The amnesty means surrender. Surrender means humiliation. We will not accept surrender at any time. We will carry on the struggle to the last man."
Within an hour Chin was on his way back to Thailand. In Penang, a newly arrived contingent of Australian troops prepared for action in the jungle. The source.