History of Chin Peng

Koon Yew Yin 2 Dec 2019

I am aware that this is a sensitive issue and I am just writing the history of Chin Peng for public knowledge. In politics, there is no permanent enemy and no permanent friend. 

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The history of Chin Peng

Chin Peng was born on 21 October 1924 into a middle-class family in the small seaside town of Sitiawan, in Perak state, Malaya. His father went to live in Sitiawan in 1920. He set up a bicycle, tire and spare motor parts business with the help of a relative from Singapore.

Born: 21 October 1924, Sitiawan

Died: 16 September 2013, Bangkok, Thailand

Nationality: Malaysia, China, British

Chin Peng had been fighting a nine-year long legal battle in the Federal Court to be allowed back into his home country, Malaysia.

Chin Peng died in exile six years ago, on 16 September 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand. He was 88 years old when he died from cancer.

Communist Guerrilla Leader

When the Japanese invaded Malaya in 1942, the British did not defend us. They left without firing a shot. Chin Peng was a patriot because he and his comrades put up some resistance against the Japanese. He and his gang continued to resist the Japanese occupation of Malaya from 1942- 1945. 

The British came back to rule Malaya

After the 2nd world war the British came back to rule Malaya. 

When the British won the war against the Japanese invasion in Malaya, they awarded Chin Peng with an Order of the British Empire for his heroism in 1946.

The End of World War 2

When the British resumed control over Malaya after the war, the new administration failed to solve the social and economic problems in Malaya that resulted from the war. The British continued to take advantage of Malaya being the biggest producer of tin and rubber. 

During this time, the British also announced the Malayan Union Proposals that would have Chin Peng left behind during negotiations between the communists and the British-ruled Malayan government.

These proposals were extremely unpopular with the wider Malay population and the British decided to withdraw them.

This enraged the Malayan Chinese, including Chin Peng.

The Malayan Emergency

In 1948, Chin Peng, then 24 years old and appointed secretary-general of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), was said to have ordered an armed insurrection against the British colonial rulers and began by methodically executing three British rubber planters.

The assassinations led to the declaration of a State of Emergency dubbed the Malayan Emergency (Darurat Malaya) that lasted for twelve years, from 1948 to 1960. 

CPM guerrilla fighters burned villages, attacked police stations and orchestrated assassinations, including that of British high commissioner for Malaya, Henry Gurney, in 1951. This led to the granting of citizenship to the Malayan Chinese.

At the height of the conflict, an overwhelming military force consisting of some 70,000 British, Australian, New Zealand, Fijian, Gurkhan and other British Commonwealth troops fought about 10,000 guerrillas. 

The violence killed more than 10,000 fighters and civilians.

Britain rescinded the Order of the British Empire it had granted to Chin Peng and put up a reward of 250,000 Straits dollars on his head.

The Defeat of The Communist Party

In 1950, British troops pushed CPM further and further into the jungle, isolating them from their supporters and cutting off their resources, including their food supply.

In 1955, Chin Peng and two other CPM leaders, Rashid Maidin and Chen Tien, attended peace talks in Baling, Kedah with Tunku Abdul Rahman, then Malaya’s chief minister, David Marshall, Singapore’s chief minister, and Tun Tan Cheng Lock, the MCA leader.

During the talks, Chin Peng failed to secure legal recognition of CPM as a political party and rejected the offer of amnesty.

However, he reportedly made the surprising offer to cease hostilities and lay down arms if Tunku secured the powers of internal security and defence during his discussion on Malaya’s independence with the British Government in London.

This apparently strengthened Tunku’s bargaining position which allowed him to win Malaya’s Independence. 


Malaya’s first Prime Minister acknowledged the role of the communists’ in Malaya’s struggle for independence in his memoirs, Lest We Forget (1983).

The Peace Pact

When Chin Peng finally laid down arms in 1989, he was one of the world’s longest-surviving communist guerrilla leaders.

On 2 December 1989, Chin Peng, along with Rashid Maidin, met with representatives of the Malaysian and Thai governments to sign a peace agreement in Hat Yai.


Chin Peng never officially returned to Malaysia after the 1989 Hat Yai Peace Accords.

In 2000, he applied for permission to return to Malaysia but his application was rejected by the High Court which compelled him to show identification papers to prove his citizenship.

According to reports, Chin Peng’s birth certificates had been seized by police during a raid in 1948. Chin Peng finally returned to Malaysia in the form of ashes which were scattered “near the hills” to fulfil his final wish to be buried with his comrades.

Conclusion: Many consider Chin Peng a patriot. He and his comrades fought the Japanese and the British and help secure independence.    

If you google koon yew yin meeting Chin Peng in Bangkok, you can read about my interesting episode.  

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