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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Between Forgiveness and perpetual Hate

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Let’s face it.

Like it or not, we’re ruled more by our emotions than rationality. Although, rationality serves the all important purpose of keeping our emotions in check. Mostly true, but not always.

And many times, our emotional outlook is colored by our personal bias. The sources of this bias can be many, but generally, at the end of the day, still a personal bias. Like it, or not.

Image taken from IADL, hosting by Photobucket A good case study of this is in how some have reacted to the question of allowing Ong Boon Hua, aka Chin Peng, former supremo of the now defunct Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), to return to the place of his birth.

Before we delve further into this, allow Walski to state what he personally thinks. Walski is of the opinion that Chin Peng should be allowed to spend his remaining days on planet Earth where he feels his homeland is. If for nothing else, purely for humanitarian reasons.

It is at this point that Walski expects some of you to go all ape-shit on him – accusing Walski of being a traitor to his race (the Human Race, incidentally – what race are you?), unpatriotic, communist sympathizer, asshole, pengkhianat laknatullah (Goddamned traitor), ISA fodder, bastard,  and whatever other colorfully creative expletives that you can conjure.

So go ahead… get it off your chest. Call Walski whatever the fuck you want. He doesn’t really give a shit, truth be told. Walski is way above name-calling.

But once you have gotten it off your chest, do Walski, and more importantly yourselves, a favor, and read on. A synopsis of what you’ll encounter: why Walski thinks some of the public responses are emotionally biased, the hypocrisy surrounding the outrage over the Chin Peng question (and we all know how much God loves hypocrites, don’t we?), and why clinging on to hate will give this nation a terminal ulcer.

A minor warning though: what follows is a long post. But to objectively see where Walski is coming from, you’d have to read the whole thing.

Of course, this is (so far) a free country, and a freer still Bloggerhood, and you don’t have to read on if you feel it incumbent to cling on to your biases. Walski is in no position to force you to think, or do, anything against your will.
(a long, hard look at the bad, the ugly, and the emotionally biased, in the full post)

But if you have decided to read on, congratulations. Walski hopes that you will learn some new things in the process, like he has in the process of writing this post.

Looking the various negative reactions a little more closely uncovers a number of discrepancies, and in the process, lays bare the underlying biases.

Let’s not even comment about those people so callously calling upon the government to invoke the Internal Security Act (ISA). Such sorry ass behavior doesn’t deserve more than a casual mention.

Walski concurs with The Nut Graph – it is becoming apparent that UMNO has no wish of acknowledging the CPM for having any part in the struggle for independence. It’s not difficult to come to this conclusion, based on what various party personalities have said.

The Ex-Policemen’s Association of Malaysia (PBPM) has protested against a call for former communist leader Chin Peng to be allowed to return to Malaysia.

PBPM acting president Ku Mohamad Khalid Tuan Ibrahim said the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) had waged a reign of terror against the country during the Emergency where scores of policemen were slain.

The suggestion made by Penang Gerakan chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan is uncalled for, said Ku Mohamad.

Dr Teng Hock Nan has called on the government to re-look at Chin Peng’s case and allow the CPM chairman to return to the country on humanitarian grounds as he was no longer a security threat.

“Many people were also killed. The country was in upheaval during the communist insurgency,” said Ku Mohamad Khalid, adding that Dr Teng should study the implication of his suggestion.

Umno Youth information chief Datuk Reezal Merican said the movement was against any move to make a hero out of a person who had committed crimes on the people and country.

“The crimes inflicted on the people cannot be neutralised merely for sentimental values under whatever circumstances,” he said.

(source: The Malaysian Insider)

Granted, the CPM did inflict terror and casualty during the Emergency. But by the same token, so did the nation of Indonesia during the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation between 1962 and 1966. You don’t see similar calls to persecute Khir Toyo or his family now, do you?

Why the double standards? Why are we not baying for Indonesia’s blood? Instead, this interesting snippet of news, involving our Minister of Defense (emphasis by myAsylum).

The Defence Ministry rejects any effort to allow former communist leader Chin Peng to return as this will not augur well for those responsible for the nation's security. Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said it would also create uneasiness among the family members of more than 50,000 policemen and soldiers who lost their lives fighting the Malayan Communist Party.

"If we allow him (Chin Peng) to return, there will be unease among certain quarters. This has nothing to do with racial sentiments, but a sense of patriotism among soldiers who have retired or are still on active duty.

"There are ex-soldiers who have asked me why a communist who had surrendered was given land, while those who had fought for the country's independence did not enjoy such a privilege," he said after launching a programme at the Seri Perkasa National Service camp in Mantin, near here. Zahid was commenting on a statement by Penang Gerakan chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan calling for the government to reconsider Chin Peng's case and allow him to return to the country on humanitarian grounds as he was no longer a security threat.

"We strongly object to his return. Since members of the armed forces are not allowed to speak up as they are in uniform, I, as the minister responsible, am voicing their feelings," Zahid said.

On another matter, he said Indonesia was interested in studying and following the NS programme in the country.

He said the Indonesian ambassador, whom he had recently met, told him that Indonesian officials would like to recommend a similar programme in their country.

(source : NST – May 26, 2009)

Walski wonders how the surviving military personnel of the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation feel about their minister being so chummy with the ambassador of a country that once tried to invade us, and wanted to “Ganyang (Crush) Malaysia”.

As for the statement that not allowing Chin Peng back “has nothing to do with racial sentiments”, Walski begs to differ. The reason? Two, actually – Shamsiah Fakeh and Abdullah C.D. – both prominent members of the CPM who were allowed back into the country.

Via Wikipedia:

Shamsiah and her family applied to the Malaysian government for permission to return to the country from 1985 onwards. Following the terms of the 1989 peace agreement signed between the CPM and the Government of Malaysia in Haadyai, Thailand, permission was finally granted on July 23 1994 and Shamsiah returned along with her husband, their three sons and their four grandchildren. Upon their arrival, the family was met by Special Branch officers who took them to a resort and for about 10 days, they were debriefed and briefed on the local customs and political scenario in Malaysia. One of the conditions for the family's return was a bar on participation in politics and for the first few years upon their return, Shamsiah was not even allowed to participate in academic speaking engagements. Her Chinese daughter-in-laws were initially barred entry into the country but were eventually granted permanent residency.
(source: Wikipedia)

Even more interesting is the case of Abdullah C.D., one of the 3 signatories in the tripartite peace agreements (the CPM, Malaysia and Thailand) signed in December 1989. In researching material for this blog post, Walski came across a blog called “Kampung Perdamaian Sukhirin – Kini dan Silam”. What he found very interesting were these 3 photos, taken from the blog (click on the images to go to the blog post from where the pictures originated):

Abdullah CD & Suriani Abdullah's audience with Sultan Azlan Shah (December 1, 1998)

Abdullah CD & former IGP Tun Hanif Omar, in Kuala Lumpur (December 9, 2007)

Abdullah CD, Suriani Abdullah & former minister Aziz Samsuddin
in Kuala Lumpur (December 9, 2007)

Tun Hanif Omar? Isn’t that the same Hanif Omar who, during his tenure as Inspector General of Police, fought against the communists and Chin Peng?

Again, why the double-standards? Like Walski, former de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim, too, thinks that perhaps the bias of ethnicity has a role to play (translation by myAsylum).

Saya terfikir, jika Chin Peng itu seorang Melayu, apakah pendirian dan emosi kita akan sama? Utusan Malaysia berkempen secara agresif agar Chin Peng tidak dibenarkan pulang. Sehubungan itu gambar- gambar veteran tentera keselamatan yang cedera dan kehilangan kaki dipamerkan. Memang benar, Chin Peng dan komunis berperang dengan kerajaan Malaya pada masa itu. Memang Chin Peng dan komunis kejam. Termasuklah Rashid Maidin dan Shamsiah Fakih. Dalam peperangan itu, kedua-dua pihak telah terpaksa melakukan kekejaman. Jepun juga pernah berlaku kejam kepada kita semasa zaman pemerintahannya. Lebih kejam daripada Chin Peng. Namun kita tetap memberi pelukan yang sangat rapat kepada Jepun. Kita juga memberi kontrak besar kapada syarikat milik Jepun kerana Jepun memberi pinjaman wang kepada kita. Kita tidak boleh mengubah apa yang berlaku dalam peperangan melawan British. Yang melawan British, ada komunis, ada yang berhaluan kiri (leftist) dan ada juga nasionalis .Ada bermacam-macam kumpulan. Namun mereka semua menetang British dan menuntut kemerdekaan.

My thoughts: if Chin Peng were Malay, would our stand and emotion be the same? Utusan Malaysia is aggressively campaigning against Chin Peng being allowed home. In relation to this, pictures of military veterans who were injured, and lost their legs, are exhibited. True, Chin Peng and the communists fought against the government of Malaya at that time. Also true, Chin Peng and the communists were cruel. Including Rashid Maidin and Shamsiah Fakih. In that war, both parties were forced to commit atrocities. The Japanese, too, had acted cruelly during their rule. Even more cruel than Chin Peng. Despite this, we have closely embraced the Japanese. We have also awarded huge contracts to Japanese-owned companies, because Japan provided us funding. We cannot change what happened in the war against the British. Those who fought the British included the communists, leftists, and also the nationalists. All manners of organizations. The fact is that they all fought the British, in the quest for independence.
(source: dari lensa zi)

Not to be outdone, incidentally, were the strange analogies. Utusan, of course, sees any support for allowing Chin Peng to return synonymous with “resurrecting communism”. Fossilized Information Minister Rais Yatim echoed pretty much the same thing, claiming a “soft sell” of “new ideas of Chin Peng or communism(via The Star). History, it would seem, can have one, and only one, official view – that of the government. Whatever happened, Walski wonders, to the end of the “government knows best era, as promised by Najib?

When it comes to analogies, though, the one that Walski found the most perplexing, and yet entertaining all at once, came from blogger Mahaguru58. It is in his post, “Rape of Nanking & Japanese War Atrocities Remembered” that we see bias-clouded emotion overcoming rationality. In the post, Mahaguru58 uses the horrific actions of the Japanese during World War 2, particularly the Nanking Massacre, to exemplify why Chin Peng should never be allowed to return. Huh?

See how they systematically decimated more than 250,000 innocent Chinese civilians and raped to death more than 10,000 Chinese girls and women ranging from as young as 9 year olds to old ladies and grandmothers!

Then see whether you still have it in you to come advise me to go easy on the likes of Chin Peng and his ilk?

Those who so recklessly spew the seeds of hate and conflict amongst us here in our beloved country probably have yet to witness all these horrors of war, death and destruction?

That's why they so irresponsibly are goading the masses into an uprising of sorts and wage war against the authorities without considering the terrible toll that any untoward civil war or conflict is going to unleash upon the entire nation?

I promise you one thing. That and if trouble does break up amongst us, none will be spared the harm and damage that we and our loved ones will suffer when law and order is no more and anarchy takes its place here in Malaysia?

The Japanese Army and the Communists of Malaya have massacred hundreds of thousands of innocent Malayans before.
(source: Mahaguru58)

Strangely enough, no mention whatsoever in the post about condemning Japan. Going by Mahaguru58’s posting, shouldn’t we also purge everything Japanese from our country? Instead, the Japanese atrocities in Nanking is used, in part, as an analogy of why Chin Peng should never be allowed back? Go figure.

Walski reckons that to folks like Mahaguru58, any suggestion contrary to what his personal feelings are constitute spewing “the seeds of hate and conflict”.

And since everybody seems to be history-savvy all of a sudden, why the mass amnesia about who CPM’s biggest benefactor was? Allow Walski to remind you: The People’s Republic of CHINA.

Even more perplexing is why nobody is chastising Najib Abdul Razak for being in China, in part, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of his father’s iconic visit in 1974 no less, while Malaysia was “suffering” from the atrocities of the CPM.

Najib arrives in Beijing (Image from The Star)

Is Walski the only person who sees the sheer hypocrisy when it comes to the vehement feelings surrounding one 85-year old man’s wish to return home?

Honestly, if we are so dead set against allowing Chin Peng to return, then in order that we Malaysians don’t look like a silly bunch of hypocrites, we should also:

  • Break all diplomatic ties with Indonesia – since they, too, caused our military personnel hurt during the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation (1962-1966)
  • Evict all Japanese nationals, Japanese business concerns (including joint-ventures), destroy all Japanese-made products, and stop all relations with Japan – after all, Nanking and other Japanese World War 2 atrocities were far worse than what the CPM did.
  • Break all diplomatic relations with China, AND prosecute anyone responsible for knowingly initiating relations with the nation knowing full well that said nation was supportive of the CPM
  • Eliminate ALL diplomatic and business relations with any country that is a communist state, currently or at any time in its history. Even better, include those countries that allow communist parties to exist.

Anything short of the above will make our insistence that Chin Peng, the CPM, and communism still fearful major threats to Malaysia and her security, seem selectively vindictive. Worse, it makes us looking like a bunch of dumb hypocrites.

Now, of course, Walski is not in any way suggesting that any of these drastic actions be taken. Not even in jest. He’s merely pointing out the sheer inconsistency of the position that UMNO and those in authority seem to be taking.

It’s almost as if there is a concerted effort to ensure that only an UMNO-friendly view of history be allowed to exist. Take this ludicrous suggestion by the Malaysian History Association, for example – a ‘heroes and traitors’ museum (via Malaysiakini).

In the article (which you can read in its entirety via Bernama), its executive chairman, Datuk Omar Mohd Hashim, makes some truly skewed statements about how history should be viewed (any emphasis by myAsylum).

On why the PSM made the call, Omar said the nation needed to have an everlasting remembrance on a major event that had left indelible imprints on the nation's history.

The museum would serve as a 'living institution' that dispels any attempt to either twist or distort facts on the real causes behind the communists' recalcitrance.

Historical facts are historical facts. Interpretations of those facts, on the other hand, may differ, according to one’s ideological viewpoint. A historian who claims that interpretations in disagreement with the status quo view are “twisted” or “distorted”, to Walski, is being rather dishonest.

Omar also referred to the Haadyai Peace Accord signed on Dec 2, 1989 between the governments of Malaysia and Thailand as well as the CPM that effectively ended the communists armed struggle in Malaysia.

"The accord is a wise move. The communists, despite being defeated were not punished outright like that usually suffered by those who lost in an armed conflict.

"Malaysians did not demand vendetta or continued tracking and hunting down (the communists) like what happened against the leaders of the Nazi, Japan and Khmer Rouge who were hauled to war crimes tribunal.

"Instead, Chin Peng and other CPM leaders continued to stay at the Thai side near the Malaysian border. The Haadyai Peace Accord in 1989 was a major concession and the CPM should be thankful. Asking for more is too much and this disregarded the goodwill extended by the Malaysian government," he said.

Okay, so again Walski asks: what about Abdullah C.D. and Shamsiah Fakeh? Why were they allowed to return, and not considered  being a “disregard” for the Malaysian government’s goodwill?

And then later in the article, Omar Hashim reveals that he, too, belongs to the Rais Yatim School of Communist Paranoia.

Omar reminded Malaysians that the communist threat is still in existence despite their struggle had been defeated.

"The communists (threat) will never be eliminated. Like in the paddy fields, there are various fish like (haruan, catfish) and eels. If there is no water, the fish will bury itself in the mud but when the water is there, they will burrow out.

"We have studied how the communists behaved worldwide. It is the same. They would discreetly infiltrate any organisations as well as cultural and music associations. When they are strong, they would take over the organisations and expand their wings.

"I am sure there is an effort to revive the communist ideology as the ideology will not be allowed to simply fade and die," he said.

He also referred to the rise of the rule of socialism, a branch of communism, in South Africa.

Omar said once a person is a Marxist communist, then he would be forever a Marxist communist.

(source: Bernama)

Wow... straight out of a McCarthyism text book, almost. As for the rise of socialism in South Africa, quite frankly Walski has no clue what Datuk Omar Hashim is referring to. Socialism exists in many and varied forms – to simply label socialism as a branch of communism, and leave it at that, is rather naive and misleading.  

The point, in any case, is this: history can be interpreted in many ways. What viewpoints, such as those of Omar Hashim, lacks is objectivity, as it singularly reflects the popular status quo viewpoint in toto, even going as far as labeling Chin Peng’s memoirs as “a big and blatant lie”, because it doesn’t jive with the “official” state narrative.

Omar said Chin Peng and his cronies were not nationalists, instead they were traitors to the country as they had carried an armed struggle against the government that was elected by the people.

If they were truly nationalists, then they would have accepted the amnesty offered by the government without any conditions, at the Baling Talks in 1955.
(source: Bernama)

An all too simplistic dismissal, if you were to ask Walski.

In all likelihood, Walski thinks that Chin Peng has next to no chance of seeing his homeland again before he dies. Despite claims to the contrary, for reasons that Walski has already mentioned, he cannot imagine that Ong Boon Hua’s ethnicity doesn’t somehow come into the picture.

It’s clear, to any thinking individual, that communism, either as a form of government or economic model, is an abject failure. And yet, when we look around us, one cannot miss the fact that our national leaders are glorified in pretty much the same way the Marxists do theirs. Images of Najib, for example, adorn billboards all over the place, as did his predecessors. Well, there’s at least one aspect of communism we Malaysians seem comfortable with.

As an individual, Walski thinks that it’s time we moved on – communism, as an ideology, is nothing but a bogeyman that’s being flaunted by those who oppose Chin Peng’s return, clearly based on other reasons. And to make statements that the threat of communism is alive and well is, quite frankly, insulting to Walski’s intelligence. He’s pretty sure a lot of you out there feel the same way.

In dealing with the issue of Chin Peng, it is clear that we as a nation are clinging on to anger and hate. Some of us, at least. And anger, if not resolved, can be self-consuming. Perhaps it is time to forgive, and move on.

Forgiveness is the magnanimous thing to do, and in most faiths, compared to hate, is the right path to take. Continuing to live with hate, and as a consequence, fear of something that no longer exists, is not exactly healthy.

We have forgiven Japan for their cruelty during the Second World War. We have also forgiven China for their support of the Communist Party of Malaya. Many fold, Walski might add. The fact that Najib is there now, celebrating the 35th anniversary of his father’s historic path towards forgiveness, is testament to that.

Isn’t it time that one 85-year old man, too, be forgiven and be allowed to return home. Not as a hero, but as an individual wishing to return home before he breathes his last? Nothing more, and nothing less.

And exactly what do we gain by clinging on to our hate?

Think about it.