JULY 23 ― The “May 13 Incident” was a pogrom. It was not as “racial riot”.
This was how it all started after the results of the 1969 general election were known:
“Late on Tuesday afternoon (May 13, 1969), young Malays from the
whole of Selangor began to assemble outside the residence of the
Selangor Mentri Besar, Datuk Harun. A retaliatory march had been planned
by the Umno Youth to end in a rally at Suleiman Court near Batu Road,
but police permission was withheld. While people were still assembling
for this parade, trouble broke out in the nearby Malay section of
Kampung Baru, where two Chinese lorries were burnt.
“By 6.30pm, a crowd was raging down Jalan Raja Muda towards Batu
Road. Another group came out of Kampung Baru into Jalan Hale, another
exit from the Malay section into the Chinese areas. By 7.15pm, I could
see the mobs swarming like bees at the junction of Jalan Raja Muda and
Batu Road. More vehicles were smashed and Chinese shop houses set on
fire…” (Malaysia: Requiem for democracy? By Bob Reece, FEER, 18/24 May
That much is clear from the declassified documents examined in my
2007 title on this subject. The attempt by the government then to blame
it on communists and the opposition parties fell flat according to
foreign correspondents as well as the confidential dispatches by
foreign diplomats in Kuala Lumpur.
More pertinently, my thesis is that “May 13” was orchestrated by then
emergent state capitalist class in Umno in a coup d’état against the
Tunku’s aristocratic class.
A fascist trend
That is the first point Malaysian historians should take note. May 13
was the first of a fascist trend that would be resurrected at every
challenge to the Umnoputras’ rule since 1971. It is part and parcel of
the “Bumiputeraism” that is the populist ideology of this new ruling
class since 1971 to garner support from the Malays.
Apart from civil rights demands by the Non-Malays (e.g. Suqiu in
2000), general elections have posed the biggest threats to the political
control by the Umnoputras. Umno has used the same weapon at every
I remember the one in 1990 when images and specially made programmes
of May 13 were shown nightly on RTM. The mainstream press also carried
BN-sponsored advertisements showing the May 13 carnage in order to spook
The 2008 general election was the closest to BN losing federal power
so you can bet “May 13” will be used in an even more blatant way by the
Umno strategists in the impending 13th general election. I believe
there is already a propaganda film made to try to purvey the “official”
version of the May 13 Incident. No doubt it will try to pin the blame on
communists and the Opposition parties.
The official Umno strategy all these years has been to demonise
“communism” as a Chinese phenomenon in Malaysia even though there were
Malay leaders and members among the CPM ranks.
With the majority of the
Chinese electorate finally declaring their rejection of Umno’s racist
and discriminatory policies en masse ― evident in their voting trend
since 2008 ― Umno has raised the communist bogey again by alleging that
Opposition has been infiltrated by communists.
For seasoned historians, this serves the dual purpose of trying to
frighten middle class Malaysians and to further alienate the Malays from
the Opposition; at the same time, this allegation gives the BN the
justification to unleash another “security” operation by using detention
without trial to put away Opposition leaders and dissidents at the
opportune time just as they have done so many times in the past.
Truth & Reconciliation Commission
As I have raised in my 2007 title, for Malaysians to thoroughly
exorcise the May 13 ghost we need to establish a Truth &
Reconciliation Commission to uncover the culprits responsible for
orchestrating the pogrom; to document the victims and to pay respects to
all those who lost their lives; to hear the testimonies of the police,
the army, hospital staff and participants, as well as to hear from all
those who were traumatised during those weeks in 1969.
If the Barisan Nasional cannot do this, it is up to PR to undertake
this process if and when they take over the federal government.
Unite against fascism & racism
As the 13th general election approaches, Malaysians should brace
themselves for more and more intense BN propaganda onslaught preying on
the May 13 spectre. Even though this tried and trite election weapon has
been shown to be effete in frightening the electorate, we must stay
vigilant considering the fascist tendency of recent years.
The 13th general election is the time for Malaysians to unite against
fascism and to end racism & racial discrimination once and for
* Dr Kua Kia Soong is adviser to Suaram, a human rights group.
Sorry, this has nothing to do with the above but with the rubbish published by Kua in his latest whinningReplyDelete
Kua Ku Siong
Mr Kua Please do not turn your anger and frustrations into on writing intensity. Do not allow your emotions to take-over the better part of you, if there is any!
Kua is a stickler for genre
“Malay Special Rights” Yes there is no such mention in our constitution.
Article 153 states, ‘That the Agong will safe-guard the “SPECIAL POSITION OF THE MALAYS.’
1. This translated means the Constitution of Malaysia will make safe-guard the reservation of quotas in respect of Services, Permits, Public Service, Scholarships, similar educational or training privileges, Permit or License for the operation of trade or Business.
2. The Agong will oversee that general directions are given to any authority to grant permits and license to the Malays.
In simple language that I presume most Malaysians would understand maybe except One, that the Malays by law are entitled to some Special Rights.
Just for his information, why did this special rights come about:
a. His kind in particular, keep the Malays out of business and allow no opportunity for them to proper
b. His kind would not involve in fair play when it comes to business.
c. His kind had the best of both worlds as they inhabited the towns where educational opportunities were ample. The Malays mainly from the rural areas were deprived.
Kua states that the special rights is to rectify the weakness of the Malays.
Wrong, Mr Kua, the special rights is to gain their place in the sun!
They have to be allowed into the mainstream outside politics!