2011 - Malayan Communist Party (MCP)

Chulaphorn Peace Village 10
Betong, Southern Thailand
19 Aug <> 21 Aug 2011
L-R: Ching Neng Bin, Boss Ng, Cheong Kiet Cheng, Hoo Kiew Hang,
Ng Boon Chong, Cheng Yen Pheng, TF Wong, Hong Beh, BK Tan, T Tang





I was invited by Boss Ng Kong Fah to visit a communist camp and stay with them for 3 days in Betong, South Thailand. The MCP or CPM is celebrating a fruit festival in conjunction with their 21st anniversary. Initially I was not interested in staying with the communist because they were my father’s number one enemy during the communist emergency, but later I decided to go and was glad I did.

Day 01 (19.08.2011) Sitiawan > Chulaphorn Village

The journey started with 2 cars from Sitiawan my hometown. We arrived in Ipoh at about 11 am and met up with 2 other cars from Kuala Lumpur making a total of 18 pax. At 1.30 pm we arrived at Gerik for lunch before departing at 2.30 pm. We crossed the border checkpoints at 3 pm and into Betong by 4.15 pm. From here it was another 28km to this Princess Chulaphorn Village No. 10 - home to former MCP guerrillas and families on a hill top valley.


Yuet Meng a wooden shop restaurant is the best place to eat in Gerik

getting in and out of this Thai checkpoint, there is a RM2 fee to be paid
signboard on the up hill road to Chulaphorn Village No. 10
once a battleground for the Malayan Communist Party, Malaysian and Thai armed forces, these place have since been turned into a peace village for tourists
once a war zone, now a tourist spot for those who want to learn history
the nice guesthouses for visitors at the Chulaphorn Village No. 10
the only sundry shop cum restaurant


When we arrived at the village it was raining, so we took shelter at the only sundry shop cum restaurant. We were surprised that there were durians for us to eat (foc) while waiting for the rain to stop. When the rain stopped we walked around the village and visited a new museum nearby. We then put our bags in the house where we stayed for two nights and came back to the restaurant for dinner and talked to former MCP guerrillas.

these are former MCP guerrilla houses surrounded by fruit orchard on a hill top
this durian is the ChaNee variety - sweet golden creamy yellow flesh

the newly built CPM History Museum

these are some of the medical equipment used
the radio communication equipment

the village has a set of musical instrument for their children to play at a big hall how I wish my Cosmic Cowboy Band is here to entertain them - maybe next year!
eating more durians after dinner - an improvised durian opener
a former guerrilla is the sundry shop operator - he specialized in radio communication
this former MCP guerrilla Lao Chiang (Tang Ah Chee) would have shot and killed my father during the emergency
We were all having some beer in the restaurant when an old man (pic above) came in and sat with us. He quickly started a conversation with us in Hockchew (Fuzhou 福州人) when he noticed that some of us were speaking Hockchew. He was a former MCP guerrilla who happened to be from Sitiawan and he used to stay in my grandparent’s village of Simpang Tiga. His name is Lao Chiang (Tang Ah Chee) who is now 82 years old and in good health. He wrote his Chinese name below:



He said that he joined MCP at aged 23 and then spent the next 39 years in the jungle – the first few years was against the Japanese, the British colonial authority and later against the post Merdeka government. The 39 years in the jungle he had shot 3 tigers and one elephant and had eaten them together with his comrades. He also said that he had shot and killed many of the Malayan soldiers and some policemen. He rose to the rank of an assistant commander in his unit.

He then continued to talk about his hometown Simpang Tiga and the people he knew. That was when he mentioned about my grandparents and my father's name was mentioned. I suddenly felt numb all over my body and kept very quiet throughout the conversation.

He knew exactly what my father was working then. My father Ching Chee Ming was in the British Force 136 and later joined the Special Branch of the Malayan police after the world war. He said that at one point in time had he gathered enough of manpower he would have killed my father. However, he had to escape that very night as my father was also after him. He also said that had my father captured him, my father would be highly rewarded by the British. By this time, I turned pale, terrified and was shocked but kept my eyes at him.

Before the conversation ended, he said that the past is past and that he had laid down arms under the 1989 peace accord signed between the MCP and both the Malaysian and Thai governments. He also said that he had forgiven my father and all the people involved during the bloody struggle. When he mentioned that he would like to meet my father if he was still alive, I suddenly made known to him that I am his son and that my father had died in 1999. He was so shocked for a moment and quickly stood up and shoot my hands tightly and said that there is nothing to fear or animosity and that we could be friends forever. He kept on saying sorry to me for talking about my father and I said that I understood the feelings. I suddenly felt so relieved with the meeting and glad that I have met face to face with my father's number one enemy. My friends also felt the same. The meeting ended at about 12 midnight before we walked back to sleep.

Lao Chiang (Tang Ah Chee)  and I became best of friend after-all and he invited me to come back next year


Lao Chiang (Tang Ah Chee) continued to brief us his story about the MCP as follows:

The MCP which was predominantly Chinese had a Malay regiment and several Indians and even an Orang Asli unit - was established in 1930 and its aim was to overthrow the British colonial government and to establish an independent People’s Republic of Malaya.

During World War II (1939-45) the MCP and the British waged a common armed struggle against the Japanese occupiers in 1941 and with the creation of an anti-Japanese army in 1943; the MCP played a prominent role in driving the aggressors out of Malaya.

Three months before the Japanese attacked Malaya the British Government in England sent Lieutenant Colonel Spencer Chapman to Singapore with the intention to train a special force called 136. And just before the Japanese attacked the colonial authority accepted to train 165 Communists at 101 Special Training School in Singapore and they became the core of the Malayan People's Anti- Japanese-Army (MPAJA) which in 1943 came under the command of Force 136. Colonel Chapman stayed behind with the Communists throughout the Japanese occupation of 3 years and 8 months. He was the military instructor of the MPAJA and Chin Peng alias Ong Boon Hua was with him.

After the war in 1947 a united national liberation front was created on the initiative of the MCP to oppose the restoration of the British colonial system in Malaya.

On 16 June 1948, the colonial government declared a state of emergency after 3 English planters were killed by the communist. The MCP went underground and began an armed struggle. In 1949 the MCP created the Malayan People’s Liberation Army.

Chin Peng alias Ong Boon Hua the Secretary General of MCP became the most wanted man by the British until the peace accords in 1989 and ironically, not long before the emergency he was awarded an OBE – Order of the British Empire, the highest honour for fighting against the Japanese in World War 2.

In 1989, Thailand, Malaysia and CPM signed a peace agreement in Haadyai, where the parties agreed to end armed conflicts within the region. Among other things, the agreement promised citizenship to former party leaders and members, immunity from ISA detention and the freedom to engage in politics and form a political party of their own within the confines of the Federal Constitution.

In 1989 there were almost 1,200 members. More than 300 former comrades returned home to Malaysia as agreed under the terms of the agreement. The rest remained in Thailand and settled into villages funded by the Thai government under the patronage of the Thai Princess Chulaporn. There are 4 peace villages in all: Chulaporn Village No.9 in Banlang and No.10 in Betong are predominantly Chinese while No.11 and 12 near Narathiwat are former Malay regiment of the MCP.


18 of us slept in a 3 room house for RM50 a night
Day 02 (20.08.2011) Chulaphorn Village No.10

The second day was eating durain for breakfast, lunch, tea-time, dinner and supper. As we woke up at 7am, there were durians at our door. We went to Betong for the famous dim-sum and then visited the Piyamit underground tunnel and the hot spring before driving back to Betong for lunch. Came back to the village for the durian feast until 12 midnight. A grand dinner was held for the MCP 21st anniversary followed by a cultural show.

durian breakfast again!
the famous clock tower in Betong
a tunnel in the Betong town centre
this corner-shop beside the tunnel has the best dimsum in Betong
Mr Tiger Wong ate them all!
a new govt. building in town
the beautiful arch along the road to Piyamit Tunnel
a rest place and view point along the road
its a passenger bus
up the main road entrance
a symbol of peace at the entrance garden
the entrance fee is RM5 per pax
 


the wild ginger flower

a wild ginger fruit

the Betong Hot Spring has no entrance fee

Ta Yean restaurant is the best shop to eat Thai food in Betong

the different type of durians and other fruits on the house

I am holding the biggest 'king of fruit'
wow, look at that! - golden yellow creamy firm flesh
the dinner(RM30) commenced at the big hall with more than 70 tables
more than 700 Malaysian and Thai ex-communist and friends attended

the organising chairman delivering his speech
these are Sitiawan tourist
group singing by former comrades
group dancing by former comrades
a guitar band by children of ex-communist
this Gerik Orang Asli headman once a MCP member and I
Boss Ng and the Gerik Orang Asli headman
the Orang Asli women from Gerik
there were more than 50 Orang Asli from Gerik attended the dinner
artists and painters from Kuala Lumpur

Orang Asli 4th and 5th generations

oops! I am not one of them

the stick dance
anniversary cake dance performed by two former comrades
Orang Asli dance and Thai dance

the Orang Asli singing performance
Day 03 (21.08.2011) Betong > Sitiawan
Another durian breakfast at 7.30am before attending a ceremony in a nearby hill - paying tribute to the dead comrades during the war. Came back to the village restaurant for a cup of coffee and drove to another jungle campsite nearby to see the biggest tree in Thailand. A durian orchard owner invited us to pick durian to be taken home and then to Betong for lunch and shopping. Some of us went for the ancient body massage at the Sri Betong Hotel. We left Betong at 3.30 pm.

another day another durian breakfast
En Aziz Suriani has a blog on the MCP
Commander Afandi is now 81 years old and lives in Ipoh, Perak




Really MCP TERRORIST? Introduction: This dialogue will bubble up in series to audiences interested reader to learn something about history of colonial wars against them to flee to Malaya. RA Kartini: Greetings to you Affandi. As someone who has read and re-examine the history, I would like to get some insight and explanation of the relative on the issue of the CPM, which is always labeled as ...
the guard post to the village
 



my sincere compassion

on the way to collect durians at a nearby orchard
 
a visit to an old jungle campsite of former MCP guerrillas

a good trek for mountain bikers
a long millipede

this is the biggest tree in Thailand

ancient body massage at Sri Betong Hotel
the fee is RM30 an hour for this ancient body massage

had dinner at Sun Kong restaurant (Tel: 05-7981480) before heading home
the best fresh water fish available in Ayer Kala
a nice sunset by the time we reached home at 8pm

total expenses for the 3day outing was RM150


====================================================


my father’s history



 family members photo taken in 1995 on my father's birthday dinner
(R-L) Sitting: my father, mother, nephew Goh Hong Siang
Center row: my son Ching Jin Wei
Back row: sister-in-law Judith Khoo and daughter, bro Ching Neng Shyan,
sis Ching Bee Geok, my wife Catherine Oon and myself

1943 - my father's school leaving certificate
My father’s name is Ching Chee Ming and was born on 29.05.1925 in Kampong Koh, Sitiawan, Perak. In 1943 he was studying in 1st Year Senior Class at Nan Hwa High Schol, Sitiawan when the Second World War broke out. At the young age of 19 in 1944, he joined the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) for 2 years after a class mate of his was killed by the Japanese Forces.


his Guerrilla Force 136 Discharge Certificate dated 8th December 1945
1949 - my father at aged 24 in his jungle squad uniform
At the age of 22, in 1947 he joined the Auxiliary Police Force on a voluntary basis and was involved in the jungle operations then carried out by the Police Jungle Squad. He later became a full-time Special Constable (S.C. Corporal No.33467) with the Police Jungle Squad from 01.04.1949 to 31.03.1950. In 1950, he was transferred to the Special Branch Department where he served for the next 23 years till his retirement as a Detective Sergeant (D.S. No. 93/Special Branch) in 1973.


1951 - my father seated second from left with his jungle squad members
1952 - my father seated second from right at the Sitiawan police station
27.05.1953 - my father received the Letter of Commendation from W.L.R. Carbonell the Commissioner of Police, Federation of Malaya
the press release in the local Chinese newspaper
the Letter of Commendation from Commissioner of Police,
Federation of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur
1963 - a portrait of my father by his friend
1966 - (middle row) my father standing 4th from left with Pasokan Hutan Perak
31.03.1973 - my father retired and was discharged from the police force
1983 - my father was interviewed by Tong Pao newspaper
about his involvement in Force 136
Letter of Appreciation from the Malaysian Government in 1994
and received a RM1,000.00






In the course of the service, he was sent to the following places between the years 1950 and 1973:

Date and Places
01.06.1950 - Sitiawan, Perak
01.04.1953 - Kroh, Perak
23.09.1953 - Sitiawan, Perak
25.10.1958 - Lumut, Perak
01.12.1963 - Teluk Intan, Perak
31.03.1973 - my father retired and was discharge from the police force
26.09.1999 - my father passed away in Sitiawan at the age of 75


The crest of Force 136


Further reading:
  1. 1944 - Lim Bo Seng: Hero of Force 136
  2. Real patriots ignored by history, says academic
  3. Sepuluh Tahun Sebelum Merdekaby by fahmi reza
  4. Tun Ibrahim Ismail:The last of the Malay Force 136
  5. Force 136: story of a WWII resistance fighter By Tan Chong Tee


33 comments:

Jee Keat said...

It is very commendable of you to be able to keep such a detailed account and records of past events.

Lintang Bob Yong said...

It must be an effort on your part to have this adventure published in such a great details. I have been educated by reading it. Thanks.

Kimmy Goh nee Ching Meei Jin said...

Fond memories of "papa" will always be in our hearts forever ....

Kimmy Goh nee Ching Meei Jin said...

Fond memories of father will always remain in our hearts forever ....

Yong Choon said...

A very interesting read. Thank you for sharing your trip photos & write up to the Peace Village plus some history & photos of your family and father. I remember your dad during my teenager years in Sitiawan. You have filled a gap on what I know now and what I knew then.

Wow.. what emotions you must have felt when you heard what Mr Tang Ah Chee was planning for your father !
Choon.

Kuan Loo said...

Ching, as always, thanks for sharing. WoW! The amount of time and effort you put together to share your visit to the communist camp and your Dad's story is indeed very commendable!

Congratulations! and I am sure your Dad is very proud of U.

If I understood correctly, you and your family is from Kampong Koh, Sitiawan, by any chance that your Dad or your goodself know the philanthropist, Ong Seok Kim and his family?

Once again, thanks for sharing, and indeed you are very compassion as well.

Best wishes
Kuan

Tan Leoung Kien said...

Hi bro. Thanks for the write-up. I am glad and proud to have a friend that forgives and loves his father's enemy.

Lee Kai Eng said...

Hi, Mr.Ching
Very interesting blog I have read of yours. Tks for the sharing. I took friends to Betong and visited these members of Old CPM. It was not so exciting as yours.

I just back from a 14 days Silk Road from China. Have you made a trip there? Like the tourist guide said. And I quote “to know of China’s history for 500 years, you visit Peking; 6-700 years, you go to Nanking. For over 2000 years, Xian or Chang An in old days. How about history dating beyond 2000 years?… you visit the Silk Road of China.

Lee Kai Eng/group managing director
Static Control Engineering Sdn Bhd- HTC
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2-3-25, Harbour Trade Center,
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ckteh888 said...

Ching,
You are great for keep all the documents until today,,,, and thanks for sharing with us.
Teh

John Yeap said...

Dear Mr.Ching,
What a story to tell about your father the hardship he had gone through those days. I can see lots of durian and having durian breakfast.
Thanks for blog etc etc.
Regards,
john

Tee Sze Peng said...

Hi Ching,
Thanks for sharing your recent wonderful experience at the Chulaporn Peace Village in Betong. Meeting with your Dad's No 1 enemy must be an experience you will remember for a long long time. We did drive up to Betong for day trip from Sitiawan few years back but it was more for shopping and a quick traditional massage before returning home(remember we have to depart the immigration checkpoint before 6 pm). Will try to visit the MCP village next time. Really admire your backpacking adventures to those beautiful places. We do go back to Sitiawan once in a while and have met up with Ching Bee Geok recently. Cheers

Stanley Teoh said...

This is a real eye opener.Animosity belongs to the older generation, those directly affected. Do we hate the Japanese because of the atrocities of the 2nd WW? Those who commit atrocities in the name of war, idealogies are long gone. the younger generation not to be blamed.Those were hard times....

Siew Cheong (Joe) said...

Mr Ching, Thanks for the sharing. I really enjoy it and all previous trips, backpacked holidays done by you as I also like travellings. Hopefully one day can join you in your holidays as it is more exciting and economical.

BTW, I am Siew Cheong (Joe) and Foong Cheong (Peter) brother, being the youngest and if not mistaken have met you before during the time you were with my brothers in Youth Park. The photos in your website under Adventurer's Club shown is actually Foong Cheong and not Siew Cheong. Regards.

Jacqueline Yeap said...

Thank you for sharing -- good exposure will broaden one's mind.. :)

Michael Toh said...

Sensational story Ah Peng Koh. Keep up with the good work. I went back to Sitiawan around two weeks ago. I met up with Ah Gaik Chee but you did not come back that weekend. Give me a bell if you happen to drop by this part of the world. Regards, Ah Hoi

Kueh Yip Piing said...

TQ for the sharing, it is really great to have know your father's amazing story, really looking forward for more of your adventures.

Julia Hew said...

Very interesting and entertaining exploration, with lots of pictures to give visual insights. A simple and good read write-up, thank you for sharing.
Julia

Jackson Au said...

Enjoyed so much reading your write-up about the history of MCP in Betong, Thailand. Wow, your father is truly a hero!!!

Anthony Ng said...

Great article - very informative! Just made me switch plans to go to Betong next month. Wonder if the durians are still available?

Alan Kok said...

Hi Mr Ching, I know you've worked very hard to establish your blog's following. Very nice and interesting read.You've travelled so far, and I am sure you won't stop doing that. But I'm interested more to see your country band practise or playing somewhere. Can I come to the venue your band practise for your jigs. I love to hear oldies of 60-70s. I do play guitar but not good enough. If it's ok please send me a mail : alancykok@yahoo.com, my h/p: 019-2222203. Thanks! From Alan Kok (Retiree aged 62)

ling leong chnong said...

Hi Ching,
Your father is a real hero. I knew him when I built his shop-house and he is nice to deal with.

I think you are related to my first mother as her surname is also Ching, which are very few in Sitiawan. Cheerio well done
rgds
lc ling

John Khoo said...

Mr Ching,
What a fantastic journey. Thank you for sharing. As they say, history is always written by the victors but the truth will never be hidden for long while there are people seeking them. I must make a trip there myself one day. I wasn't even born when the CPM fought the Japanese and too young to realise the repercussion of the emergency period. Living in KL, we were oblivious and somewhat shielded to what was happening in the jungles. What we knew about the CPM was what we read from the books and what the government wanted us to know (I think it is still happening now).

I have learnt a lot by reading your blog. You do your father proud. I am sure he was smiling in heaven when you and his nemesis met.

Thank you

Rgds
John

allen said...

Hi Ching, a very good job to remind us about the past, victors as well as the vanquished. Thanks anyway.

Liew Meng Kuang said...

Hi Ching,

Thanks very much for sharing. From the photographs, they reminded me a lot of our recent Hash trip to the Peace Village and hot spring though most of our time were spent at the Betong town.

Your story is definitely more interesting and meaningful to you and family because you were able to meet up with your father's supposed 'enemy' during the emergency. We had durian too, early in the morning, so much so that we didn't want to buy any back.

Thanks for always sharing your back-packers' trips all over! I wish I could be like you..

Warm regards,
Walking Tall @ Liew Meng Kuang

leahgu13 said...

Hi Ching,
Seems interesting place to visit.
I have 2 classmates stayed in this "Peace Village". They invited us for quite sometime and I did not put it priority until I see your advanture.
You visited at the right season, plenty of fruits.
Kow

GanCGeok said...

Ching ... good article, and, interpreted first hand from an MCP survivor who spoke of being an ally to the British in fighting the Japanese !

Where are we going next ?

I am surprise one of my kawan, Walking Tall also is a visitor to your site ! I was in Betong with him.

alan kok said...

Hi Ching,
I'm inspired by your detailed report of visit to Betong that I've written to my folks and friends, urging them to join me for a trip there. My wife and son
are also interested. My wife's former colleagues who're travel crazy and are foodies (just mad about food) are excited after I introduced your blog article on Betong. Only they're too pampered to seek hotel stay instead of dormitory houses. I was there more than 25 yrs ago when I went there for tennis matches, believe me! No one could write better than you for such enticing travelouge; at least not in this region. I admire your effort.

Alan Kok

Eddy said...

Wow! Ching, what a story! I am impressed!

We are very fortunate indeed to have you sharing your knowledge, travels and adventures with us in this forum!

Am sure this is a great learning experience not only for me, but for many of us who are less travelled and who have all along been misled by subsequent Malaysian governments into believing that the Malayan Communists Party (MCP) was a “terrorist” organisation. Another valuable lesson I have learned from your article is that the MCP also had a Malay regiment and several Indians, and even an Orang Asli unit!

I have never been a fan of communism (or unbridled capitalism for that matter) but I respected the MCP members for their tremendous courage, tenacity and commitment to their cause and ideology. They also have this unwavering loyalty to their fellow comrades. It is clear from your report that the multi-racial MCP members are in fact heroes and martyrs of Malaya for they not only fought against the Japs during the Japanese invasion, but they also fought to free Malaya from the British colonialists.

The US Govt has long accused the China of providing arms, covert training and financial support to the CCP and other guerrilla organisations in S.E. Asia. On the contrary, I have now gained first-hand knowledge from you that in so far as Malaya is concerned, it was ironically, the British Government instead, who trained MCP Leader, Chin Peng and 165 other communist cadres. It is this group that became the core of the Malayan People's Anti- Japanese-Army.

Your report also tells me that Chin Peng, the Secretary General of MCP who became the most wanted man by the British until the peace accords; was himself awarded an OBE – Order of the British Empire, the highest honour for fighting against the Japanese in World War 2!

Thanks again for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Ching,

That was a very interesting account of the CPM. I was one of those involved in the counter insurgency warfare against the communist way back in 1978 ..both in East Malaysia and West Malaysia. I fly the Nuri Helicopters to give air support and also to provide medevac flights to our soldiers. Many a times I had to fly the dead Communist soldiers too. It was not a pleasant time BUT it was exciting..Always and that period of my life had actually molded my character very much. would like to meet up with you one day. I had lunch with your friend Mike Khaw in Setiawan last month. Keep up with your good work.

Capt YF Wong

Anonymous said...

Thanks for providing such an informative and interesting account of your trip to the Peace village. I have just read Chin Peng's book and am heartened to learn the comrades are living a good life in Thailand. It is sad that so many people died on both sides but that is history.
MY

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poh hwa tan said...

Mr Ching I just wrote to you but nothing came out. Please advise because I am sure you will very interested to know what I have to tell you.

Tan Poh Hwa said...

Dear Mr Ching,
I hope I can get in to make my comment. Like you, I was a son of a SB Police officer. He held various ranks in the many states he was posted to. He started his Special Branch Training in Singapore in 1939, so by the time the WWII ended he was already an inspector. Although our roots were in Penang, he was sent to various states with BLACK Areas, e.g 1954 to 1957 to Negri Sembilan. By the time he left many Black areas had turned WHITE.

Anyway in 1957, he was made Head Special Branch of the state of Kedah, with rank of Supt. He used to take me on his official visits to police stations (by police car. So I accompanied him on his many trips). One day he said we were crossing the border to Betong. The drive was horrendous - Kuala Ketil > Baling > Kroh > Klian Intan > Betong.

What a change of scenery Betong was. You can even get Seven_UP (only available in Thailand). I have very many good memories of Betong. We also went to Sadao and Hadyai.

Enough to say my father turned "over" many members of the MCP that were arrested and many of them became my friends. My father retired in 1976, but we had seen through the worst of the Emergency.