The commemoration of the 25th anniversary for the peace agreement coincided with the launch of the group’s “Peace Club of Thailand”, marking a new chapter for former Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) members in Thailand and neighbouring countries.
The remembrance ceremony was a more low-key affair than the 20th anniversary, due to the death of the CPM’s revered secretary-general Chin Peng on Sept 16 last year. But still, hundreds of former party members from four villages in Yala and Narathiwat and friends from various countries still turned out to commemorate the anniversary.
Former party members from Sarawak, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Johor in Malaysia, and as well as representatives from Singapore attended the function. Representatives from other associations in Indonesia and Eastern Malaysia also took part in the event.
The only living former CPM executive committee member, 91-year-old Abdullah CD was present at the ceremony. He was one of three CPM leaders who signed the peace agreement 25 years ago.
The CPM was founded on April 30, 1930, and fought until Dec 2, 1989, when a Thai-brokered peace accord was signed between the party and the Malaysian government in Hat Yai. The CPM was then dissolved with party members retaking Malaysian citizenship or choosing to stay in Thailand under the terms and condition of the peace accord.
Party members who were Singaporeans were not allowed to return as Singapore is not one of the signatories in the peace accord. Those members have since taken up Thai citizenship.
The former commander of the 15th Infantry Division at the time, Maj Gen Manee Chanthip, was present at the event, alongside retired former 4th Army Region deputy commander Gen Chamlong Kunsong.
Five Thai generals attended the previous reunion of the former CPM comrades.
The function also played host to Zhang Jinxiong, the Chinese consul-general to Hat Yai, and representatives of the Malaysian opposition Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), from the border states of Kedah and Kelantan.
“My presence here is to lend solidarity to Thai people of Chinese descent. There’s no other agenda,” said Mr Zhang.
Following the death of Chin Peng, key CPM supporters resolved to set up the informal “Peace Club of Thailand” organisation. The supporters are from Hat Yai and Bangkok, as well as the peace villages in Yala’s Kabang, Tarnto and Betong districts and Narathiwat’s Sukhirin district.
Indrajaya Abdullah, from Narathiwat, has been nominated to chair the Peace Club.
The 57-year-old, who is Abdullah CD’s son-in-law, said the club would enhance links between remote villages where former CPM members live.
Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi again rejected the CPM’s request to repatriate Chin Peng’s ashes to his hometown in central Malaysia. He said the demand was impossible, as the CPM was responsible for a brutal insurgency during and after the country’s fight against colonialism.
Li Xue Zhi, a representative for the 21st Century Malaysia Friendship Association, denounced Kuala Lumpur for violating the peace accord by refusing to allow Chin Peng’s ashes to be returned home, accusing the Malaysian government of “twisting” the history of the CPM.