KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 – One is the longest-serving top police officer Malaysia has ever known, someone who left the force with his reputation and image intact. The other is a former top cop who left the force in disgrace after an assault on former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in 1998.
One is a former top cop who reached the peak of the corporate world here, and who looks the part in society pages and roundtable discussions on law and order. The other is a former top cop who shuns publicity like the plague and is shunned by the movers and shakers in government.
The contrast between Tun Hanif Omar and Tan Sri Rahim Noor is not only skin-deep. Both were signatories to two historic agreements between the Government of Malaysia and the Communist Party of Malaya in 1989, watershed agreements that ended the armed conflict between the communists and the government.
But today they occupy opposing sides of the spectrum on public opinion over Chin Peng and the Communist Party of Malaya.
Haniff is part of the strong anti-CPM lobby, the body of Malaysians who do not want Chin Peng to be allowed to step on Malaysian soil.
They argue that the communists inflicted death and suffering on many Malaysians, especially security personnel, and have right to return home.
Rahim is among a group of Malaysians who are guided by the principle that once an agreement has been inked, a line has to be drawn in the sand and the government has a duty and a legal obligation to adhere to the terms of the agreement.
No ifs and buts. No re-opening old wounds.
Hanif made clear his views recently after the High Court ruled that comments made by a former deputy minister against Chin Peng and the CPM were not defamatory.
He pointed out that the former secretary-general of the outlawed Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) had no legal standing.
“It is an illegal operation as it was not registered under the law,” said Hanif.
He said that Chin Peng was in charge of a notorious party which killed thousands of people in the most cruel way, and that a non-registered party had no right making any demands.
This response from Hanif is puzzling, to say the least. If he believed that Chin Peng and others in the CPM were evil and members of an illegal organization, why did he agree to sign the “Agreement Between The Government Of Malaysia and the Communist Party of Malaya.
The agreement reads: The Government of Malaysia and the Communist Party of Malaya, consistent with the common objective for peace, hereby agree to the following:-
Article 1 – Upon the signing of this Agreement, the Government of Malaysia and the CPM shall cease all armed activities forthwith.
Article 2 – The CPM shall disband all its armed units, destroy its arms, ammunition, explosives and booby-traps in Malaysia and Thailand.
Article 3 – Members of the CPM and members of its uits who are of Malaysian origin and who wish to settle down in Malaysia shall be allowed to do so in accordance with the laws of Malaysia.
Article 4 – Malaysian authorities shall assist members of the CPM and members of its disbanded armed units to help them to start their peaceful life afresh.
When Hanif signed the agreement witnessed by among others General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh of the Government of Thailand, did he believe that the Malaysian Government was not interested in honoring its obligations?
Rahim has so far not spoken publicly. He was lined up as a witness for Chin Peng but did not get the opportunity to testify for the 85-year-old because the High Court struck out the former CPM leader’s suit.
Still, Rahim’s friends said that he feels strongly about the sanctity of an agreement. In addition, he feels that he is duty-bound to tell the truth given that he is a signatory to one of the two agreements, and was one of the key players in getting the CPM to come to the negotiating table.
He knows that no amount of reparation or words of comfort can bring back the police and military personnel who lost their lives in the fight against the CPM.
As a former director of the Special Branch, he knows of the countless men and women who went in harm’s way to break the will of the communist movement.
Some of his men and women never returned home to their families.
There is no love lost between Rahim Noor and the CPM. But he was a signatory to the “Administrative Arrangement Between The Government of Malaysia and The Communist Party Of Malaya Pursuant To The Agreement To Terminate Hostilities’’ and believes in the sanctity of the agreement.
One is a former top police officer who seems to have forgotten that he was a signatory to a groundbreaking agreement, a rare occasion where communists laid down their arms.
The other is a former top police officer who still believes that what happened on Dec 2, 1989 in Haadyai has to be respected.