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Tuesday September 17, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday September 17, 2013 MYT 7:44:56 AM
by p. aruna
PETALING JAYA: Former Information Minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin recalls seeing Chin Peng for the first time at a cafe in Haadyai the night before the signing of the 1989 peace accord.
“We had no idea that he and Rashid Maidin were staying at the same hotel, and having dinner at the same cafe, that night.
“I asked my news editor to approach them and try to get an interview. However, when he did, they ignored him,” said Zainuddin, who was then Utusan Malaysia chief editor.
On Chin Peng’s final wish for his ashes to be brought back to Malaysia, Zainuddin said it was not the right time.
“If the ashes are allowed to be brought back here, some will want to build a memorial for him,” he said.
“Even if the Government allows the ashes to be brought back, now is not the right time as sentiments are high. They can probably bring the ashes back quietly later.”
Meanwhile, a British officer who was in the forefront of the fight against the communists during the Malayan Emergency in 1948, Leon Comber, said he met Chin Peng many years later in Canberra.
It was in 1999 when Comber, now aged 89, met the former Communist Party of Malaya secretary-general at a two-day conference.
“I remember meeting him for the first and last time there. We had lunch together.
“He was affable, and looked just like an ordinary, well-to-do Chinese towkay to me.
“I did try asking him about what he had been up to after leaving Malaya, in Beijing and in Thailand, but he was not very forthcoming about it,” said Comber, a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Singapore’s Institute of South-East Asian Studies, yesterday.
Comber served as an officer in the Indian army during World War II before coming to Malaya and playing a critical role in the formative years of the police Special Branch.
He later published an extensive account of his experiences in a book titled Malaya’s Secret Police, 1945-1960: The Role of the Special Branch in the Malayan Emergency.
The Star’s former group chief editor Datuk V.K. Chin, who passed away in June 2011, was also present at the signing of the peace accord in Thailand.
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