Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

Alias Chin Peng

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

For most, the name above will not mean anything. Even for me, a relatively well read late Baby Boomer, Chin Peng is a name that was spoken of only in derogatory terms and a person only seen in fuzzy black and white pictures in the context of National propaganda.

Chin Peng for me is as "real" as perhaps Henry VIII is for school kids in the UK. I never connected him to a real person. Instead, he was associated with events in Malaysia's past. Our history. And when history takes over, the person is lost.

For those who don't know who Chin Peng is, he is the man who led the Communist Party of Malaya or CPM during the dark days of the Communist insurgency and the Emergency during post war Malaya. Yes, without the 'si.'

I read an article in The Star which made me want to find out a little more about the man. And since he had visited Singapore (or so I read in that article) I went to The Straits Times of Singapore (their online version since by agreement, they cannot sell their newspaper in Malaysia) to do a little research.

I found the same article but with pictures of the man. Bald, liver spotted, looking distinctly uncomfortable in his suit and tie, sitting next to Santa Claus. I think that was the guy who wrote Chin Peng's memoirs. Ian Ward.

All of a sudden, there was a face to the name and what Hollywood would call, a backstory. Basically, this was a man who was someone's son, probably someone's brother, someone's husband who was driven to fight and kill for what he believed in.

Please don't get me wrong. I don't and can't subscribe to what he believed in or how he did it. But I cannot help but have some sneaking admiration for someone who created such a large swathe of history. I don't think he or anyone who creates such history actually sets out to do it. All they do is to have the courage of their conviction to do what other people can only complain about.

In many ways, he casts as large a shadow over our history as our first Prime Minister or our immediate former Prime Minister. Not necessarily in a good way, but the footprint is still there, whether we care to look at it or not.

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