Monday 20 August 2012

Time to bury 1969 bloodbath, says Umno vet

PETALING JAYA, Aug 20 — Umno veteran Datuk Mazlan Harun wants the public to lay to rest the ghost of a 1969 racial bloodbath amid the political hype surrounding local film "Tanda Putera" — a controversial narrrative of the country's most tumultous period — that could threaten the country's unity in the run-up to national polls due next year.

The son of the then Selangor mentri besar, Mazlan opened up to The Malaysian Insider in an exclusive interview last week over reports of an incident at his father's home that several pro-Umno bloggers have levelled against DAP heavyweight Lim Kit Siang, as proof that the opposition figure had masterminded racial provocation leading to the May 13, 1963 riots in the national capital.

Lim's political enemies have accused him of instigating the May 13 riots that took place 43 years ago, but some researchers have blamed the violence on an Umno-led procession that began at the then Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Harun Idris' residence.

Mazlan said he had heard from a former deputy home minister of the alleged flagpole incident, but said he could not prove the truth of the statement.

"I don't want to say whether it's true or not but I was informed by a former deputy minister in the Home Ministry — his name doesn't have to be mentioned — who read this report, this sensitive report that says Kit Siang urinated (at the flagpole), he read [sic]."

"If he lied, then I lie, that's why many people are asking (that) all reports about May 13 be revealed," he said.

Mazlan also said the former deputy minister had read a confidential police report in relation to the bloody May 13 tragedy.

"Kit Siang, I saw in (his) blog, he made a denial, he was not here, he was at Sabah," said Mazlan, adding that "maybe the police mistaken identity (sic), I don't know."

"But I was informed by this (former) deputy minister that Kit Siang urinated (at the flagpole) and I believe Shuhaimi's film is based on the police report, the Home Ministry report," he added.

"Tanda Putera" director Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba has said the 117-minute long film does not depict any prominent DAP leaders in a negative light as alleged.

“There have been allegations that the character of a prominent DAP leader has been featured in this film. We would like to reiterate that there is no such character in 'Tanda Putera'," Shuhaimi told a news conference last week.

Lim had previously strongly denied the allegations made in a photo posted on "Tanda Putera" movie's Facebook page, where a caption said that he had urinated at the flagpole at the residence of the then Selangor Mentri Besar.

Mazlan called on the public to stop digging up the past events of May 13, saying that it was unfair to his father Harun Idris who had passed on.

"People like Datuk Harun have passed away, he does not have the chance to tell his version."

"So if we bring up things which people say the dead cannot answer, in Islam also we think this is unfair."

"Like Kit Siang he can answer, he's alive; like Datuk Harun he cannot answer," he said.

Under fire from pro-Umno bloggers who have persistently accused the DAP opposition leader of instigating the bloodbath 43 years ago, Lim maintains he couldn't have provoked the riots in the capital city as he "was simply not in Kuala Lumpur on May 11, 12 and 13 of 1969."

He has also taken to narrating his version of history over popular video-sharing site YouTube.

The 1969 general election saw the Umno-led coalition, then known as the Alliance, losing its two-thirds parliamentary majority and its popular vote to the opposition for the first time since the nation's independence in 1957.

The Alliance's shocking defeat was then followed by Malaysia's worst ethnic riot, which some reports say caused over 2,000 deaths.

Lim, who was then only a first-time polls contender, won the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat in 1969.

He had previously only worked as a reporter and a former political secretary to Devan Nair, the Bangsar MP and People's Action Party (PAP) member.

Lim, who was still new in the political scene then, was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for 18 months after the riots in Kuala Lumpur.

In the 2008 general election, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition suffered a fate similar to the Alliance in the 1969 elections, losing its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament.

However, BN managed to retain its majority vote and stayed in power.

The May 13 riots have been repeatedly brought up by BN as a "bogeyman" to persuade voters to continue to support the coalition.

Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was reported telling Malaysian youths to stand united to avoid another racial clash like the 1969 riots.

His statement came ahead of the 13th general election that is expected to be the closest fight between BN and the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

But a poster on Umno Youth’s official Facebook page yesterday suggesting a vote for PR will catapult Christianity into Islam’s unquestioned position as Malaysia’s religion shows faith and race are still being used as a bogey to scare off the crucial Malay-Muslim vote in the run-up to national polls.

The controversial poster had read: “Jika anda setuju untuk jadikan KRISTIAN sebagai agama rasmi persekutuan Malaysia, teruskan sokongan anda kepada Pakatan Rakyat. (If you agree to make CHRISTIANITY the official religion of the federation of Malaysia, continue supporting Pakatan Rakyat.) ‘God bless you my son’.”

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin has denied his team was responsible for uploading the poster, and had removed it the same day it was put up.

But the poster has provoked an uproar on the popular social network, with some cyber citizens supporting the statement and others condemning Umno Youth for attempting to fan emotions and religious sentiments between Christians and Muslims on the eve of Aidilfitri, one of the biggest holidays in multicultural Malaysia’s calendar.

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