By Jocelyn Gecker And Grant Peck September 16, 2013 6:28PM
In this photo taken Nov, 27, 2009, Malaysia's most well-known former communist guerrilla Chin Peng waves upon his arrival at a hotel for a press conference in Hatyai, Thailand. Thai officials say Chin Peng, who led a bloody insurgency against British rule in Malaysia and had lived in exile for five decades since then, has died in a Bangkok hospital. He was reportedly 88 or 90 years old. A Thai army official said Chin Peng died of cancer early Monday morning, Sept. 16, 2013. (AP Photo) MALAYSIA OUT
Updated: October 18, 2013 6:24AM
BANGKOK — The tough former communist guerrilla who led a bloody but failed insurgency against British rule in Malaysia in the late 1940s and early 1950s died in Bangkok on Monday after decades in exile. He was 88.
Chin Peng, whose real name was Ong Boon Hua, died of cancer in a private hospital, according to his former lawyer in Malaysia, Darshan Singh Khaira, and officials in Thailand. He adopted a pseudonym for his political work.
He was the last of a breed of Asian anti-colonialist figures that included Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh, Indonesia’s Sukarno, Myanmar’s Aung San and Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihanouk, who died last year. Chin Peng’s dubious distinction was that unlike the others, he didn’t win his struggle.
“I suppose I am the last of the region’s old revolutionary leaders,” Chin Peng wrote in his 2003 memoir “My Side of History.” “It was my choice to lead from the shadows, away from the limelight.”
Chin Peng also lost a legal battle in recent years to be allowed back into Malaysia, and the county’s prime minister was quoted Monday as saying that even in death his return would be barred. Government leaders said his return would upset many Malaysians who lost loved ones during the communist insurgency, which he continued after the country became independent of Britain in 1957.
Born Oct, 21, 1924, in the northern state of Perak, Chin Peng gained public attention during World War II, when he and other guerrillas provided the bulk of resistance to the Japanese occupation after Allied troops were swept from the Malayan peninsula and Singapore.
He was a courageous, behind-enemy-lines fighter, learning guerrilla tactics from his British then-comrades-at-arms in the jungles, and was even awarded the high honor of the Order of the British Empire — which was later rescinded. AP