How much was Chin Peng worth?
On the 1st of May, 1952, the headline of The Straits Times screamed, “NOW IT’S $250,000 FOR PUBLIC ENEMY No. 1 — if brought in alive.” In modern English, it asks, “Who wants to be a millionaire?”
According to The Malay Mail online, the caption under Chin Peng’s large mugshot read: “THIS IS CHIN PENG. The brains behind the terrorism in Malaya, he is worth $250,000 to anyone who has information which will lead to his capture.”
Kids shuddered at hearing the name Chen Ping. Mothers warned their misbehaved children that “If you are naughty, Chin Peng would come and get you.”
In this BBC news report in 2003, Chin Peng, the secretary-general of The Communist Party of Malaya, once the Public Enemy No.1 of the British empire, was photographed holding the newspaper about his bounty.
The bounty of $250,000 in 1952 would be worth millions in today’s ringgit. 60 years ago, the lottery jackpot in Malaya was exactly $250,000.
Malaysian journalist Thunder Looi (aka. Hu Yidao) interviewed Chin Peng for two days over 16 hours in 2001 in Thailand when Chin Peng was 72. Mr Looi wrote that the British government issued a bounty of $60,000 for Chin Peng’s head in 1949. In September 1951, the bounty increased to $80,000.
British High Commissioner in Malaya Sir Henry Gurney was murdered on 6 October 1951 by the communists on his way to Fraser’s Hill in the state of Pahang of Malaysia. Six months later, the British government raised the bounty of Chin Peng by 4 folds, from $60,000 to $250,000, which was believed to be the highest bounty ever set by the British empire.
In the interview, Chin Peng revealed that the $250,000 bounty was later reduced to $80,000. In 1969, the Malaysian government further reduced his bounty from $80,000 to $20,000.
The Test of Nationhood is a brilliant 35-minute propaganda film on Malayan Emergency, 1948-1960, by the Imperial War Museums.
“For twelve long years we fought the enemy in our midst… We fought against an alien ideology, against terror and intimidation, against militant communism. This is the story of our struggle and our victory.”
From the “The Test of Nationhood” film © IWM (COI 626) by the Imperial War Museums
In this film, you will learn about the war against the guerrillas, including
- National registration
- Brigg’s resettlement Plan
- Operation Starvation
- Henry Gurney’s assassination
- General Sir Gerald Templer’s leadership (“Winning the hearts and minds”)
- Information and intelligence operations
- Jungle warfare
- Air support
- White Areas
- The unsuccessful Baling Talks with Chin Peng
- Merdeka (Independence) amnesty offer
The Imperial War Museums keeps a vast collection of images of the Malayan Emergency. Some of the images are under IWM Non-Commercial Licence, which allows me to share some historical pictures with you in this post.
The above image shows a member of the Malayan Home Guard mans a check point on the edge of a town. In the New Villages, food was rationed, to curb food and supplies being smuggled out to support the communists. These check points allowed the authorities to search vehicles and intercept illegal activities.
The image above shows an anti-Communist demonstration in a Malayan town. The large banner with the Chinese characters 反共示威游行 mean ‘An Anti-Communism March.’
This image above shows a patrol of the 1st Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry moving up a stream in the Malayan jungle.
The 16th of September this year was historically significant. On this day, Chin Peng – the guerrilla leader, rebel, terrorist, British’s number one enemy, freedom fighter, or the hero – died in exile. This day was also the Malaysia Day, a day to commemorate the establishment of the Malaysian Federation in 1963 , when Malaya, North Borneo, Saraway and Singapore joined together to form Malaysia. Coincidentally, 16th of September 2013 was also the 90th birthday of the former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. He is the Father of Singapore, a man who fought and beat communism successfully, transforming Singapore into a proud nation.
The Chin Peng series was inspired by Blog Exercises: What story should I share? by Lorelle VanFossen. You can find more Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress. This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.
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