Thursday, December 3, 2009

Government must be prepared to explain the 1989 Hatnyai Peace Agreement to the people.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has said that the Government would remain firm in its decision to bar former Communist Party of Malaya(CPM) secretary-general Chin Peng from returning to Malaysia.

He said the decision was made by the Cabinet and would not be changed despite revelations that Chin Peng had the right to return under the 1989 Hatnyai Peace Accord.

Although he did not reveal the grounds for the Cabinet's decision , it is obvious that Cabinet members were very much concerned with the strong voice of objections expressed by some groups and Malaysians.

However, the important question that the government will have to decide is whether , as a party to the 1989 Hatnyai Peace Agreement, should the government just go along with such voices of objections or take the courage to explain to them its obligations under the Peace Agreement.

No one can deny that the Communists had caused pains and killings of Malaysian civilians and soldiers. For the families of those who have been hurt or killed by the Communists , it will be hard and perhaps even impossible for them to forget or forgive the Communists.

But, at stake here is the nation's credibility and international standing.

Former inspector-general of police Abdul Rahim Noor, has said that Chin Peng has a right to return to Malaysia at least on a social visit as this is provided for in the Hatnyai Peace Accord signed on Dec 2, 1989 between the CPM and Malaysian government.

Abdul Rahim who was Special Branch director at the time ,had helped negotiate the final settlement.

In a recent media interview, he has said , "“To me in any war, in an armed conflict, big or small, there must be casualties... If you say the army, police personnel and civilians suffered the most, ask the CPM (and) they would say the same thing - ‘what about me and my people?’ “So to me, views expressed by (associations representing) veterans and ex-police (personnel) are just emotional.”

So is the government going to let public emotions dictate its decision or is it going to honour the Peace Agreement?

Allowing Chin Peng's return is merely to fulfill the government's obligations and to protect the nation's credibility an international standing, it should not be turned into a debate as if it is a question of deciding whether the Communists past killings should be forgiven or forgotten.

A responsible government will surely have to honour the agreement. The right thing that the government must do is to take the courage to explain to the people the Agreement and why the Cabinet will have to honour it.

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