Tuesday, January 10, 2006

500 Ex-CPM Members to Get Thai Citizenship

BERNAMA reported 500 former members of the outlawed Communist Party of Malaya [CPM] will be given Thai citizenship, almost two decades after ending their guerilla war against Malaysia.

On January 8, 2006, 253 ex-members of CPM received their Thai microchip-embedded smart ID cards from Yala Governor. The rest will get their IC cards after the completion of necessary documentation process. Most of those who got their ID cards were Chinese while the Malays will get them soon. However, there was no news whether former CPM secretary-general Chin Peng was one of those granted citizenship.

There are 498 former members of the CPM were currently living in several villages around Yala.They were granted asylum by the Thai Government following an agreement to end the guerilla war signed between CPM and the Malaysian Government in 1989.

Some of the members have taken Thai names after they settled down in friendship villages of Piyamit in Betong and Bannang Sata districts.

Last year, Chin Peng, 81, who was born in Sitiawan, Malaysia, applied to the High Court in Malaysia seeking to return to the country.

Other prominent members of CPM believed to be residing in the southern town of Betong, bordering Pengkalan Hulu in Perak, are Rashid Maidin, Abdullah C.D. and Suriani Abdullah.

The Bangkok Post English daily January 9, 2006 published an interview with several former CPM members who were granted citizenship yesterday. "I feel I was a Thai the very first day I came to live in the Piyamit village in Betong district of Yala almost 20 years ago because we took refuge on Thai soil.”Although we were Malays [Malaysians], when we came to Thailand, we became Thais," said Herng-u sae Loo, 50, who led a company of the former communist party.

Yungfu Sae Shai, 78, the former secretary-general of the communist party, said that he was keen to help the Thai government handle the southern unrest. The southern situation concerns us. We are ready to help by keeping an eye on border movements and promoting peace in the village.

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