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Sunday, September 21, 2003
My Side of History - By alias Chin Peng 

My Side of History -
By alias Chin Peng
Publisher: MEDIA MASTERS, Singapore.
Price: RM 70.00
Genre: Non-fiction, Politics/History
Perhaps for an ordinary schoolboy who actually opened his Sejarah Malaysia textbook, the name Chin Peng would remind him about the Baling Talk, and the name belongs to the leader of Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). That is all. His character, his contributions, if mentioned at all, would be put at a much lower significance than our so-called ?founding fathers? like Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tan Cheng Lock, etc.

The inner details and the inside story of communism in Malaya and the personalities of communists have been largely made unavailaible, made irrelevant and uninteresting. A taboo, almost.

It is time to break from the narrow and shallow descriptions in our history textbooks, and mainstream documentaries. It is time to disbelieve the jungle war stories in TV about the heroics of the Royal Malaysian Army against the communists. The recent movie 'Paloh' lent a helping hand to broaden/redefine what we know about the Malayan communists, the Bintang Tiga. For those who actually watched it, that is.

However, none would be as authoritative as this 'fresh from the oven' book - My Side of the Story.

Chin Peng tells us in this book about his childhood and family in Sitiawan, the books that he read, the paths he could have taken, and his natural participation and rise in the communist party, the wars, the Emergency, the espionage, the time spent in jungle and other countries and the many politicians and officers he has encountered.

For me, the first and final chapters are the most worthy read.

The first paragraph of its 1st chapter goes like this:-
Every generation shapes its dreams. If you yearn to make a difference you become obligated to the clamour of your time. My generation dreamed of doing away with British colonialism in Malaya. I am proud of this fact.
This shows that Chin Peng is no stupid fighter. He knows what he is doing. His depth, his political awareness, skills and ethics, I dare to say, surpasses that of many of our present leaders.

The youths of today should take this words into deep consideration. If independence is what the generation of Chin Peng dreamed for and fought for, what about youths of today? Chin Peng was only 23 when he became the No. 1 of CMP, just one year older than me now. That is amazing. Would I be able to bear the same weight of burden and threats? Would I stand so strongly for my principles and believes? What should our present generation fight for? To realise the true potential of Malaysia and to liberate us from the suppression of poor governance?

Chin Peng is an honest fighter, one who is brave to fight, not blindly but purposefully. He is not blinded by the British rewards, including the OBE which he 'rejected'. He has an interesting point about the alliance of his party and the British forces against the Japanese:-
I was never under any illusions about bonding with Britain against the invaders from the land of the rising sun. My allied status was never anything more than a transient arrangement. I knew my old imperialist masters would ultimately be my enemy again. The British were using us because they had no choice. I thought we could use them too. For both sides it was a deal with the devil?.
Till today, Chin Peng is disallowed to enter Malaysia, and he remains a socialist. To him, what he did was no mistake, not a crime. His final paragraph sums it nicely:-
I fought a liberation war. To ask whether I would do it again is idle talk. I was a young man in an entirely different setting. But the realities and the lessons I learned from that time comprise a body of values I can share with the young who may wish to look beyond their palmtops and understand how history is shaped. I would like to be involved in a forum. It is the exchange of ideas that ultimately moves the world. The barrier of views still exhilarates me. You can tell me I was wrong. You can tell me I failed. But I can also tell you how it was and how I tried.
In the end if you're like me, this book would tell us that the communists, despite the terrorist label, are mere Malayans with the same goal of achieving independence from occupation. Their commitment should be admired and appreciated. They did contribute to the process of Merdeka.

This is definitely an important book for those who value fair historical accounts, and the fight against Japanese occupation, and ultimately against the bigger, nastier British colonial masters.

fooji  # 10:34 PM