We have read and discussed the happenings during the May 13 episode in lieu of Kua Kia Soong’s book. We took note the fact that the racial riots that occurred that day were not unprovoked or spontaneously happened. There indeed were extenuating factors that led to that tragic day.
These factors were conspicuously missing in his book. From the 3 articles which were posted before, we can now say without a doubt that that the racial riots on May 13th was triggered by overzealousness of the thuggish opposition party members and the antics of their racist leaders back then. We now also know that there were communist elements that had penetrated in the political scenario back then.
Unfortunately, the said book had tried to dismiss these elements as insignificant or worse, as non-existent.
Tunku’s thoughts on the communists can be read below in his book, May 13: Before and After.
Also, please read back the three articles below should you have missed them earlier:
1) Part 1
2) Part 2
3) Intermission (in reality, it’s part 3)
After reading all the above and comprehending the social and political environment at that time, we now move on with the prevalent sentiments within the Malay psyche during the years preceding the May 13 incident. This would be the longest article in this series but I do hope dear readers will indulge me for little while.
This is important so that a true and fair view of the whole May 13 incident can finally be digested by the people of Malaysia.
Knowledge will give you the ability to see reality differently from the one you had been accustomed to.
The Malays during the years of independence, revered Tunku Abdul Rahman like nobody’s business. Tunku Abdul Rahman was the most popular person in the country at that time. He was the founding father of the nation. He rallied all the races together and formed the Alliance. Umno, MCA and MIC forged a coalition and pushed for independence as a united Malayans.
He went to London to negotiate our country’s independence along with Tun Abdul Razak, Tun V. Sambathan, Tun HS Lee, Tun Tan Cheng Lock in 1954.
Prior to that, a joint Umno – MCA meeting was held to deliberate on this London mission. Tunku Abdul Rahman received tremendous support from the people and they showered him with wonderful send off gifts. Malay ladies showered the London delegation with money and jewellery while the future first Permaisuri Agung of Malaysia, Tunku Puan Besar Kursiah took off her bracelets and threw them from the balcony of the building (TAR, Political Awakening pg. 44). Thus, the delegation had enough fund to finance the long journey at that time.
Tunku was the symbol that freed the people from their colonial masters. He was the talismanic national hero who was determined to bring a future that was self determined by the country’s own people.
He was indeed a popular figure.
However, Tunku was oblivious to the sentiment on the grounds. By the mid 60’s, the PAP propaganda of Malaysian Malaysia had created much furore within the confines of Malaysia’s social fabric. The very pillar of the nation cracked and stood precariously on an already unstable foundation. The incessant demands of certain chinese chauvinists and the obvious plights of the Malays had caused friction between the two communities.
But all Tunku wanted was to be the happiest prime minister in the world. His dream shattered during those dark days of May 13, 1969. Tunku believed that he had done so much for the Malays back then. The Constitution which provided special privileges to the Malays in exchange of the citizenship for the non-Malays 12 years before was something he hold dearly in his beliefs. He established MARA in the early 60’s to help the Malays gain their footing in economy, professionally and in the public services.
He thought he had done enough. But the sentiment from the ground was different. The Malays felt that Tunku had not made enough inroads in alleviating the standard of living of the Malays. This was further compounded by the fact that racial politics was harped by the opposition parties back then to dismantle the Malays’ special privileges. Day in, day out, the opposition back then questioned the articles within the Constitution that protects the Malay rights. Worse, Tunku was seen to be too lenient to these communist infected opposition. He only realised the modus operandi of the DAP when it was a little too late.
Nevertheless, resentment from the Malays grew towards Tunku. From the statistics below, the unfair balance of Malays participation in the government and economy can be further illustrated. Remember, this is before the implementation of the NEP (please click and zoom).
Matters come to a head during the general election of 1969. The opposition grew bolder and the anti Malay elements in them killed an Umno worker 2 weeks before the general election.
Modus operandi of PAS and DAP
As stated in the first part of this series, in 1969 PAS and DAP had aggressively conducted a divisive and racial politics to gain more votes from the ignorant and gullible people.
PAS, in their election campaign will accuse Umno of ‘selling out Islam’ and the Malays to MCA. They accused Umno as un-Islamic and had gone astray from Islam’s way of life. They say Umno will not establish an Islamic Nation since they were in league with the MCA. This made the Malay votes split into two and weakened Umno’s popularity.
This extremist view was frowned upon by Tunku and he labelled PAS as a bunch of wretched hypocrites in his May 13 book. Moderation had always been the main principles of the Alliance and the pillar of success in multi racial Malaysia. But PAS tried to instill hate, using religion as their weapon to split the Malay votes.
But at the same time, PAS was cooperating with the DAP (who is a polar opposite to PAS) in an unofficial opposition coalition!
DAP meanwhile accused the MCA of selling out the rights of the non-Malays to Umno. In other words, DAP accused MCA of letting itself being bullied by Umno. DAP had used the same approach in gaining votes albeit though a reverse tactic. They accused MCA of being too soft when the National Language Policy was introduced a couple of years before. To the racist DAP, they could not recognise Bahasa Malaysia as the official language of the country.
They also pounded the idea that MCA was bullied into submission when Umno tried to pursue a more Islamic apporach in governing the nation. Hence, this very racist approach of instilling fear and hate towards the Malays and specifically Umno made the non Malays shunned MCA and the Alliance. In the end, MCA lost a lot of votes during the election.
But in actual fact, it did not make any sense for the DAP to accuse Umno of being too Islamic and bullied the MCA while in the same breath PAS accused Umno of being too liberal and un-Islamic and betrayed the Malays to MCA! What was more ridiculous, PAS and DAP worked together in their unholy alliance of opposition parties!
How was this possible? Were the Malaysian population back then too stupid to realise this? Thank God today, the people are smarter (are we really?).
But sometimes I do wonder whether this racist modus operandi is still being practised by the opposition of today…
Outcome of the general election results
The Alliance lost its two thirds majority in that election. The MCA was abandoned by the chinese. Tun Tan Siew Sin was so ashamed and embarrassed, he called Tunku immediately after the elections and declared that since MCA was abandoned by the chinese, the party will not accept any ministerial appointments for a handful of their surviving MPs. They will however, support the Alliance.
Tunku noted that with some sadness. What else could he do? The chinese chose not to vote a valid representative of their community in the government but instead chose to vote a racist opposition party which was not compatible with its own opposition partners. As the result, they lost their own ministers in the government.
Umno however, although being the largest beneficiary of the general election, had been magnanimous enough to include MCA in the cabinet in the aftermath of the election and the riots. Thus, moderation, empathy and genuine cooperation had always been the bedrock of a successful coalition of the country.
Selangor nearly lost to the opposition but at the last minute, Gerakan decided not to join the opposition’s loose coalition. This enable Umno to form the state government on the basis of being the party with the largest number of seats in the state assembly.
Retaliation by the Malays
After the arrogant, offensive and insensitive victory parades were held by the opposition the Malays decided that enough was enough. They had been on the receiving end of a cruel and racist insults for the last 4 days and the insults such as ‘melayu babi balik kampung’ was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
As situation deteriorated, and full scale riots were at hand, only the high professionalism of the security forces had contained and localised the situation. Dato Seri Yuen Yuet Leng also commended the pragmatism of the police force at that time. He wrote:
I am very proud to have been a police officer during the May 13 crisis. The first few days of the crisis were the proudest moments in my entire police career. I saw in Kuala Lumpur how both experienced and young police recruits conduct themselves as peace officers…. I monitored, heard and recorded the firm and undaunted voice of a former Malay subordinate transferred to the Riot Unit, rejecting demands from a Malay mob to hand over some non-Malays who had pretended to be dead but rushed to him for protection when the opportunity arose. His words still echo in my memory;
“Yes, you are Malay; I am also Malay. But this is where the similarities end. You have no responsibility. I am a police officer. If you cross that line, the same blood on both sides will flow!”
The mob gave up their demands.
The brunt of the outbreak of violence which when once started in Setapak for whatever the reason ignited the situation in Kuala Lumpur.
The riots that was thought to be originated in Kampung Baru was in fact started in Setapak. Due to rumours and high tension, it escalated into a full scale riot in Kampung Baru and spilled over to adjacent areas.
However, Kua Kia Soong missed the whole event preceding the Kampung Baru riots when he solely relied on Bob Reece’s account. Bear in mind, Bob Reece could not be at two places in the same time. That is why, one cannot be certain whether foreign journalists were being professional in their writings.
“Late on Tuesday afternoon (May 13), young Malays from the whole Selangor began to assemble outside the residence of the Selangor Mentri Besar, Dato 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.”
Tunku’s thoughts on foreign observers
Tunku had great apprehension on what the foreign media had to say about the incident. To him, he was greatly disturbed with the slanted reporting by the foreign journalists. From his own writing below, Tunku chastised the foreign journalists for being partial in their reporting and relying on rumours mostly.
Like I told earlier in the first article, foreign media will have ulterior motives when reporting, be it to sensationalise news report, or simply the desire to see the situation worsen so that there are more news to report.
Tunku made no reservations when he wrote the May 13 book. Even the act of slandering the security forces had riled up the then Prime Minister. The excerpts below are important since it clearly had debunked all the hate filled comments received regarding the conduct of our security forces during the racial riots.
The NOC report below gave a clearer picture of the situation concerning the security forces at that time. Kua Kia Soong’s book gave too much prominence to foreign journalists’ reporting it really became nauseating that he chose to see them as the ultimate truth bearers.
The conspiracy theory
There was also a theory which had slandered Tun Razak, Harun Idris and Tun Mahathir for working together, orchestrating the racial riots in order to depose Tunku from being Prime Minister.
On page 325 of the book The Struggle for Malaysian Independence, Dato J.J. Raj stated:
Years later YAM Tunku, in his weekly article in the local newspaper, The Star dated Monday August 5, 1985 had this to say:
“The police refused an application to hold a funeral procession on May 10, the actual date of the election. The Police refused permission but the Government, without my authority or knowledge, gave permission to hold the funeral procession one day before the election, but restricted the size of the funeral. I was in Alor Setar when I was contacted during the funeral procession.
I was surprised that the authority, whoever it was, had given permission for the procession to be held which attracted thousands of communists and their sympathizers. Many communists had been killed before, and no such grand funeral had been allowed. How was it that this time, it was allowed? The purpose, I found out later, was to embarrass me. When I probed further into this, I found that it was done by the same source that had spread rumours against me and the intention was to use this incident to topple me.”
In that interview, Tunku stated that the permit for the funeral procession on May 9th should not be given at all due to the current political situation at that time. As the police was under the purview of the Home Affairs Minister, naturally Tun Abdul Razak was to be blamed for this occurrence.
Many HAD GUESSED that Tun Razak overruled the police’s decision because he wanted to topple Tunku. Some EXTRAPOLATED even further that Tun Razak orchestrated the whole incident so as to give the justifications for the Malays to run amok and kill the chinese racists. Due to lack of evidence, we really do not know.
But what I do know is, from the sentiments of the racist political supporters of the Labour, DAP and Gerakan parties at that time (read part 1 and 2 please), even if there were no permits been issued out, the funeral procession would have been held anyway. The anti police, anti Malay sentiments were sky high at that time after being instigated by the irresponsible opposition leaders.
Plus, since the general elections were to be held on the 10th of May, Tun Razak did not want to jeopardize the voting trend towards the Alliance party. To withheld the permit may cause the Alliance to lose more votes in the general elections (try withholding the permits for BERSIH, HINDRAF and Anti PPMSI rallies and imagine what the opposition would have done).
Nevertheless, I am not privy to what Tun Razak was thinking back then. But one thing for sure, the unequivocal fact is, which Tunku had also missed was, the racist anti Malay jeers accompanying the funeral procession did not cause any immediate retaliation from the Malays. If indeed Tun Razak had planned for the Malays to run amok as soon as he gave the permit for the funeral procession, history had shown otherwise.
Eventhough the racial tension shot up to stratospheric levels because of that procession, no untoward incident happened on the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th. Hence, the theory above which had said Tun Razak gave permission to the funeral procession to overthrow Tunku was inconsistent to say the least.
Therefore, Tunku’s and other extrapolations made from Tun Razak’s action are deemed as conjectures only. It would have been different if Tun Razak had approved the opposition’s victory parades after the general elections. But from the reports we had read in the previous article, most of the victory processions were illegal anyway.
Tunku’s original thoughts on the funeral procession was etched in his writings below:
In the book ‘Surat Dari Dr Mahathir’ by Zainuddin Maidin, had given us the insights on what happened after Dr Mahathir was singled out for being the thorn in Tunku’s leadership and was expelled. On page 25, it stated:
Keruncingan hubungan Dr Mahathir dengan Tunku Abdul Rahman terus memperhebatkan lagi gelora politik tanahair terutama dalam kalangan orang Melayu selepas peritistiwa 13 Mei. Tunku menganggap surat Dr Mahathir kepadanya yang tersebar luas di seluruh tanahair sebagai memusnahkan seluruh pengorbanannya terhadap negara dan bangsa sejak 17 tahun lalu.
Ini mendorong Tunku memberikan kata dua kepada Umno. Pilih “saya atau Dr Mahathir”.
Apabila Timbalan Presiden Umno, Tun Abdul Razak menyampaikan kata dua ini kepada mesyuarat Majlis Kerja Tertinggi (MKT) Umno di Sri Taman pada 12 Julai 1969, Harun Idris berkata,
“Tun (Razak), kalau begitu, buat apa panggil mensyuarat ini, buang sahajalah Mahathir”.
Pandangan beliau disokong kuat oleh Ketua Kaum Ibu Umno, Tan Sri Fatimah Hashim dan juga Pengerusi Pemuda Umno Negeri Kedah, Syed Nahar Shahabudin.
Tun Abdul Razak seterusnya memberitahu bahawa Dr Mahathir sebagai ahli MKT telah melanggar tatatertib parti kerana membuat kenyataan kepada umum tentang perkara yang sangat penting mengenai parti.
Now, if Tun Mahathir, Harun Idris and Tun Razak had worked together in orchestrating the May 13 riots, why then did he was sacked by Tun Razak? Even Harun Idris did nothing to save Tun Mahathir from being sacked at the time. All the racist, hate mongering people like RPK and Kua Kia Soong had in fact confused themselves with post May 13 events and tried really hard to implicate the three of them so that all the current non Malays will hate Umno leaders in totality.
In fact, racial riots and Tunku’s anger towards Mahathir were two SEPARATE incidents. Tunku’s anger towards Mahathir only surfaced in mid June right after Mahathir had written a private (which later became public) letter to the Tunku. This famous letter became the thorn that had eventually led Mahathir to be sacked in July (a full two months after the riots). Tunku never accused Mahathir of masterminding the riots either.
What I had stated above regarding Tun Razak, Harun Idris and the Kampung Baru clashes really coincide with what Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad had stated in his speech on May 13th 2009. It was reported by RPK in his article here. There was no inclination whatsoever that implied Harun Idris and Tun Razak had masterminded the whole incident (from the funeral procession to the Malays’ retaliation).
Tun Razak did not plan the victory parade nor was he the one that started the riots in Setapak. Yes, Setapak was the place where the riots started.
Therefore, to call our great statesman, Tun Abdul Razak as the architect of May 13 is really a racist act indeed.
The National Operations Council
There was a laughable attempt by Kua Kia Soong to slander Tun Razak by attempting to equate the great man as someone who was bent on achieving total Malay totalitarianship in the country. On page 90, Kua Kia Soong stated:
From this secret document from the British Cabinet Office, we note that barely a week after the riots flared, the CIA gad figured out what Razak was planning, i.e. to change the Constitution to formalize Malay dominance, sideline the Chinese and shelve the Tunku:
“In introducing Adrian van Huizen to speak to us on this subject at today’s CIA briefing for the Commonwealth Liaison Officers… he expressed their main conclusions as follows.
He said that the Malaysian government was faced with two braod alternatives. They could come to their senses and seek some accommodation with the moderate Chinese elements and draw new forces into the government from the Chinese community. Alternatively, they could continue with the present Malay-dominated emergency rule, possibly toned down a little, but leaving the Chiunese unable to improve their political position and so probably driving them further towards the Left and the use of violence. As of now, van Huizen thought it likely the Malaysian government would follow the latter course.
From all Razak had said it seemed he believed that any attempt at accommodation with the Chinese would cause the Malays to lose the “power-edge” they maintained over the Chinese. If the Malays lost this, Razak seemed to believe that the more dynamic Chinese would eventually take over. This, Razak seemed to determined to prevent and it seemed possible he might propose changes in the Constitution to formalize Malay rule. Van Hizen also said that the Tunku’s position was very important. He thought the Tunku would probably be shelved, although not just yet.”
This van Huizen person should be one of the first intelligent officers of the CIA to be sacked for getting wrongful information about the whole situation.
However, Kua Kia Soong took this ‘secret’ document and tried to misinform the Malaysian public about the fact of the matter. First, he postulated that Razak would disengage the Chinese from the government after the riots. Secondly, Razak did not want to accommodate the moderate Chinese since he wanted total control of the government.
But I won’t be surprise if the gullible readers would believe such notion. The matter of fact was, Tun Razak included non Malay leaders in the NOC such as Tun Tan Siew Sin and Tun VT Sambathan. Even though the unwise Chinese voters back then had abandoned the MCA for the racist DAP, Razak still included their leaders in the eventual cabinet line up. Remember, Siew Sin had stated earlier that he would not want the MCA leaders to be in the cabinet as he felt MCA had failed the Alliance. Surely, the spirit of accommodating one another was honestly done in pursuit of the nation’s well being.
Thereafter, much to the chagrin of the foreign observers, the Alliance under Tun Razak sought to correct the economic imbalances, repaired the goodwill and harmony between the races after it was damaged by the racist opposition and prevented the country from being condemned to the dustbin of history.
Secondly, should Razak had any autocratic tendencies, he would have prolonged the Emergency rule under the NOC indefinitely. But he did not. Hence, the document above which Kua Kia Soong had selectively taken to include in his book had run on wrong premises. It was merely a conjecture of the CIA and a flimsy effort to slander Razak as an autocratic leader. Read that dispatch again please.
One of the most peculiar notions about the book is trying to show its readers that the relationship between Tunku and Tun Razak was not congenial and distant. On page 108, the book stated:
In this secret British Cabinet paper, it is clear that Razak’s complete control of the government was by then (i.e. 19 May) an open secret:
“There are reported to be some 10,000 refugees. Local newspapers had been suspended but have now been allowed to resume publication under censorship. Foreign correspondents have had their curfew passes withdrawn for alleged partiality of reporting. There is some evidence that the military but not the police discriminated in favour of Malays in enforcing the curfew. Some opposition political leaders are said to be among those arrested.
The exact relationship between Tun Razak and the Tunku is not clear. In public says he is directly responsible to the Tunku but he has made it clear privately that he is completely in charge of the country. This could mean the beginning of a process of withdrawal by the Tunku as an effective PM.”
But in actual fact, Tunku respected Tun Razak as the most able person to helm the NOC. He unreservedly showered praises to Tun Razak in his book:
There are many other contentious matters in his book which require further attention. For instance. the book took a malicious turn when it questioned the Rukunegara on page 118 and 119. I am appalled that Kua Kia Soong would find in his heart to question the content of the Rukunegara just because it was Ghazali Shafie who had formulated it. Again he took Bob Reece’s article to help strengthen his agenda. To me, if you do not agree with the contents of Rukunegara, please state the reasons why, instead of covertly trying to instil hatred among your readers towards the nation’s idealogy.
The aftermath of the book
We have now debunk the conclusions the book was trying to propagate.
1) Tun Abdul Razak masterminded the May 13 racial riots as a form of coup d’etat from Tunku Abdul Rahman – false conclusion
2) Datuk Harun Idris led Umno Youths to spontaneously launched an unprovoked attack towards the chinese people – false conclusion
3) The racial riots were not the fault of the racist opposition or the subversive communist movement – false conclusion
In reviewing this book, I have come to the opinion that it was intended to ultimately create resentment among the Chinese to the Malay leadership in Umno. That was its entire reason for existence. All the slanted views, misinformation, wrong conjectures and jumping into conclusions were done purposely to achieve that end.
Now as the outcome, whatever the government does, will be deemed as racist because this book had made very profound racist outlook about the whole matter. To completely censor all the blame towards the racist DAP back then whilst at the same time exaggerate the Malays participation during the riot had clearly created a wave of gullible racist among the younger generation. They became racist because they had inadvertently loathed the Umno leadership.
The enmity towards Umno had become so severe that even when the son of an MACC director was caught in Australia for having porn materials, the blame was put squarely to MACC, Umno and BN! Certainly this is not relevant at all. What is going on in the family has got nothing to do with BN as a whole. Is this the kind of people we would want as citizens? Filled with misplaced hatred towards anything that is Malay?
What more, they had become misguided in hating one of the founding fathers of the nation. Yes folks, Tun Razak was one of our founding fathers (he went with Tunku to negotiate our independence in London remember?) and I find it revolting to smear and tarnish his legacy due to one man’s insidious racist agenda. It is of no surprise that he is a DAP member. DAP had been one of the major instigators of the riot and the book was trying very hard to clear its name.
These articles will try to put back into perspective all the things that were wronged by the book. People tend to forgive and forget and let bygones be bygones. But the effort to distort history and lay blame on others, especially when the blamed one could not defend himself as he is no longer here, is very distasteful indeed.
Now I implore any peace loving Malaysians to re-study Kua Kia Soong’s book in great detail so that the propaganda created from it will be extinguished and racial harmony can once again regain its proper place in our social fabric.
This book can be singled out as one of the main source of all the resentment between the main races in this country (just read all the hateful comments from the articles – they were all referring to the book as their source of information). It is unfortunate that many believed that this is the definitive history when in fact is was nothing more than a malicious effort to smear our founding fathers’ names.
Tun Abdullah during his sleepy years at the helm, under the pretext of freedom of speech, had allowed this book to be published. It is amazing that Pak Lah, as a member of the NOC had not read this book prior to its release.
At the very least, there should be a counter argument for the book produced by professional historians. Why did the government agree to unleash a book written by a DAP racist into the market without even producing a better rebuttal?
Why did Tun Abdullah allow the name of his former boss to be soiled under the weight of massive racist propaganda? Why Najib Tun Razak and his brilliant advisers fail time and time again to debunk this book? For each day this book sitting happily on the shelves without any other manuscript to challenge it, his father’s reputation will become maligned each day. He must have the skin of rhino to be able to face his mother every time he visits her while out there, a travesty is being committed under his father’s name.
Our nation is made from a potpourri of ethnicities. The approach of dividing the nation though racial hatred instead of racial harmony had been the modus operandi of the opposition since Independence. The Alliance had proven to have the best formula towards racial harmony. Respecting the Constitution had been its greatest asset. All parties in the Alliance fight for all the articles in the Constitution. It is the greatest law in the land where the main purpose of its existence is to create the best balance to achieve racial harmony.
Whenever the BN leaders mentioned about the May 13 incident, they were not implying that blood will be spilled (although their choice of words could be better). This is what the racist opposition would want the unassuming people to believe. May 13 needs to be remembered because racism and unhindered freedom of speech will cause unrest in this multi racial country. That is why we have the Sedition Act. The Act is solely to prevent the people from being too extreme in their views.
Now, in the aftermath of the 1969 incident, and after the propaganda of Kua Kia Soong’s book is hopefully debunked, what now for the nation? Like I proposed in the first article, National Harmony Day should be celebrated on May 13 every year to remind ourselves how blessed we are living in a land where moderation and acceptance are the keys to national success in whatever there is to come. We should learn that, when hatred and resentment towards each other is no longer existed, we can now look forward towards building the nation with so much rigour, trust and mountainous sense of pride in our history.
Our founding fathers and leaders of the past had painstakingly upheld their selfless deeds and worked hard in making our Malaysia a successful nation. The greatest achievement we had was to live in harmony in the face of so many malevolent foreign and domestic challenges. We should not dirty this greatest achievement just because of a certain racist and political agenda.
Like the wise words I learned from school – “A society which does not look back with pride upon its past can never look forward towards its future”.
Till this day, I still remember those words.