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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March, 2005, 18:43 GMT
Malaysian ex-rebel in return bid
By Jonathan Kent
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

Chin Peng holds 1952 newspaper offering reward for his capture
Chin Peng was once the British empire's most wanted man
A former Malaysian guerrilla leader has gone to court to win the right to return to the land of his birth.

Chin Peng led the Communist Party of Malaya in a decade-long insurgency against colonial rule.

He says he wants to return to Malaysia to visit his parents' graves. The Malaysian government has previously rejected his applications.

Once dubbed the British empire's most wanted, he is one of the few surviving leaders from the age of revolution.

He fought alongside the British during the Japanese occupation of Malaya, but in 1948 he turned on the colonists and tried to drive them from his country.

Missing home

For 12 years he and his band of predominantly ethnic Chinese fighters tied down a force of more than 100,000 Commonwealth troops despite being outnumbered nearly 20 to one.

Some 10,000 guerrillas, soldiers and civilians died in the conflict.

Though the Communists signed a peace treaty with the Malaysian government in 1989, Chin Peng has not been allowed to return home. So from exile in Thailand, he petitioned the high court in the Malaysian state of Penang.

Now 80 years old, he wants to see once more the town where he grew up and visit family graves and he says he wants to live out his last days here.

His autobiography, My Side of History, published 18 months ago, has been a huge hit in Malaysia.

Few people here had heard the story of the "Emergency", as the campaign against communism was known, told from the guerrillas' point of view.

According to Malaysia's state news agency, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said he would wait for the outcome of the court case before deciding how to handle the matter.



SEE ALSO:
Malaysia bars communist leader
29 Sep 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Malaysia
08 Jul 03 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Malaysia
10 Mar 03 |  Country profiles


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