Tag Archives: history

Little enthusiasm for May 13 truth commission

Rahmah Ghazali | May 19, 08 4:00pm
Pakatan Rakyat’s Proposal for a truth and reconciliation commission to uncover the facts behind the May 13 racial riots has found no support among older Malaysians.najib tun razak 03Deputy premier Najib Abdul Razak said yesterday that this should be left as an episode in history that must not be repeated, and that review of the incident would only create an adverse polemic and benefit no one.

Top Pakatan leaders had said last week that the commission would uncover the facts behind the May 13 incident, which remains shrouded in secrecy.

Historian Dr Khoo Kay Kim reflected Najib’s notion that the review could only lead to the blame-game all over again.

khoo kay kim 01“It could only lead to more confrontation as society is still not mature enough to revisit May 13″, said Khoo, a professor in Universiti Malaya.

He also pointed out that younger Malaysians have not been exposed to what happened then. If they are to be taught now, it should be done responsibly.

“It should not be taught to young Malaysians unless the history books are written accurately and carefully,” he added.

ramon navaratnamTransparency International Malaysia president Ramon Navaratnam said “the past is the past and we should not be looking back”.

“We have a vision ahead to fulfill, not a nightmare to look back on,” he said.

denison jayasooriaDr Denison Jayasooria, who heads MIC think-tank Yayasan Strategik, said Pakatan should focus on its priorities, including the strengthening of relationships in society.

“The rakyat voted for opposition not because of May 13 issue, but they wanted change,” he said.

Lone supporter

However, social activist Dr Farish A Noor described the call for the commission as “important and timely” because the issue is constantly being raised by politicians.

farish noor“It is done so with the apparent reason of instilling fear in the public,” he said, noting that .the riots are often used as a means to silence the public.

“The commission would help society to have an open debate (and) identify those responsible for the riots regardless of which party (they are from),” he said.

At the same time, Farish rejected the constant discussion of the issues in the national political arena.

“The May 13 incident took place over three or four days and we have talked about this ‘national catastrophe’ for years. Malaysians have been living peacefully for 500 years, why don’t we talk about this instead?” he argued.

may 13 generic may13 riot racial race communal 190507The riots took 196 lives, according to official figures, and have been a frequent source of public debate in view of the absence of full disclosure on the incident.

The official version has portrayed the riots as being triggered by ‘provocation’ by supporters of the Chinese-dominated opposition while celebrating their electoral victory in 1969. This has been rebutted by the opposition parties.

Last year, an academician contended that the riots were an attempt at a coup d’etat within a faction in Umno to oust then premier Tunku Abdul Rahman. The author, Dr Kua Kia Soong, based his findings on newly-declassified documents.

Pakguard84 think:

Whatever it is, todays generations did not learning the true history… We are learning the cover-up story… Lots of truth is hidden… Will the history repeat just by know it or learning it? IF it is so, There should be newborn Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi, and maybe for Malaysia, New Tunku… Come on guys, we are not stupid enough to believe what u are saying. The history only will repeat when people don knew about it. They dont know what is the real cause of that riot. What actually happened? Its a big shame when i someone dont know his histories. But at one point, those who hidding the fact and truth should be blame if the history repeat again… Because you not telling the truth. Dont ever blame the public for your wrong doing.


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The ‘social contract’ and May 13

Joe Fernandez
The current debate over the ‘social contract’ is not the first time that attempts have been made to revise history for reasons of political expediency.

Nearly 40 years ago, after the searing Sino-Malay race riots of Friday, May 13, 1969 in Kuala Lumpur, many historians attributed the bloodshed to the ‘breakdown’ of the ‘social contract’ when non-Malay political parties made substantial gains in the Tuesday, May 10, 1969 general elections. The island of Penang, the Pearl of the Orient, had fallen to the newly-formed Gerakan.

Rakyat Malaysia, which was, in fact, mostly composed of ousted rebel leaders from MCA, a key member of the ruling Alliance Party.

DAP, the Malaysian chapter of Singapore’s ruling PAP, had almost won half the seats in the Selangor state assembly while the PPP (People’s Progressive Party) made similar gains in its Perak heartland. The MCA saw no further purpose in being part of the Federal Government and pulled out while still remaining as a member of the Alliance.

MIC, the other key member of the Alliance, stayed put in the federal government and in the states and at the local level even as quite a number of panicky Indian families sold their properties for a mere song and packed their bags for India. Elsewhere, long queues of would-be migrants formed for weeks outside the Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian high commissions and in particular at the US embassy.

The MCA pullout from the federal government was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Race riots erupted first in the Chinatown area of Chow Kit which had a Malay hinterland and soon spread all over the capital city. The incomplete polling was abandoned, Parliament was disbanded, democracy suspended, a state of emergency declared by the caretaker government and Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, seen as too pro-Chinese, ousted and placed virtually under house arrest for a while. It was like a coup d’ etat. There were isolated incidents everywhere.

The police were hopelessly outnumbered and overwhelmed and the Royal Malay Regiment was brought in while the multiracial Federation Army and the famed Sarawak Rangers of elite Iban and other Dayak troops were both confined to their barracks. The Malay Regiment were mindless robots who contributed to the carnage as well as to the perceived defence of race, religion and country. They were eventually ordered, albeit reluctantly and gently, to return to their barracks but not until the blood-letting had dragged on for some 10 days or more of unspeakable tales of horror.

In hindsight, the apologists and conspiracy theorists rationalised that the Malay Regiment ran amok in revenge for the killings over two weeks by the Communist Party of Malaya’s Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army which virtually had a free run of the country while awaiting the return of British troops in strength following the Japanese surrender after World War II. The Japanese looked on.

The MPAJA’s victims were mostly Malays seen as Japanese collaborators. There were feeble attempts in official circles to blame the communists for May 13 but these were quickly denounced and roundly condemned by the man-in-the-street. At the height of the Vietnam War, the communists were the eternal bogeyman in Southeast Asia and everywhere in the free world.

The Malay Regiment, disgraced in the eyes of the non-Malay population, was replaced by the Federation Army and the Sarawak Regiment and calm quickly returned to the burnt-out streets of Kuala Lumpur. There had been a heavy price to pay in innocent lives, all because the extreme right Malays in Umno, the lead player in the Alliance, had been rattled by the electoral setbacks suffered by the MCA and feared the unraveling of the ‘social contract’.

Apparently, this right wing’s game plan was to intimidate the political opposition, punish the voters and force the MCA back into the government. The fact that the political opposition had never been party to the ‘social contract’ was lost on the right wing instigators of the May 13 bloodbath.

Even so, the Gerakan and the PPP were virtually blackmailed, with the promise of democracy being restored, to become members of an enlarged Alliance which was renamed Barisan Nasional. The ‘social contract’ was back on track. The Alliance, symbolised by a sailing boat, had sunk. The BN chose the scales of justice as the new symbol.

Hardly five years before May 13, Singapore had queried the ‘social contract’ as a member of the Federation and was quickly ushered out. It’s important that Malaysian history books explore the expulsion of Singapore from the Federation. However, this tragedy along with the Japanese occupation is simply glossed over. The key lies in former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s ‘infamous’ outburst: ‘If these people (Kuala Lumpur) think they can squat on Singapore and get away with it, they are sadly mistaken’.

Apparently, Lee was alarmed that Kuala Lumpur had rapidly changed track after Malaysia was formed with the extreme right wing in Umno calling the shots. A serious deviation of the ‘social contract’ was the misinterpretation by the right wingers that the it was a carte blanche for Ketuanan Melayu, Malay political dominance and supremacy. This was an anathema to Lee. Surely such a system could not be good for anyone, even including the great majority of the Malays themselves.

Sabah and Sarawak, the Borneo states, remained in the Federation after some initial demands for a review by Sabah. Kadazandusun leader, Donald Stephens (later Mohd Fuad Abdullah), was eventually packed off into ‘exile’ as the high commissioner to Australia, before making a stunning political comeback in 1976 and dying mysteriously in an air crash shortly after with almost his entire state cabinet.

Is the ‘social contract’ still relevant in this day and age? Every two people have three opinions.

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Don’t butcher history to create your own ‘truths’

Truth-Seeker | May 5, 08 3:13pm


I refer to the Malaysiakini article After the apology over the keris.


In the article, Azly Rahman states: ‘I had this question: what if Parameswara the assassin-prince – who was watching with thrill a mouse deer kick a Rottweiler into the Straits of Malacca – had sat under a durian tree and the fruit fell. What if it hit his head and he had to be taken back to Palembang to be hospitalised for concussion?

‘Would Malacca have been ‘founded’; would ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ have become an issue; and would the keris have been wielded at the Umno general assembly? I do not know. ’

It is no secret that Parameswara was an Indian and a Hindu prince until he married a Pasai princess and converted to Islam and adopted the Persian name Iskandar Shah. There seemed to be no problem telling the truth as I just expressed it during my school days. The school text-books were quite clear on this – but not today, I’m told.

Once again the ‘insecure’ Umno-led BN government had to wipe out any references to this famous Melaka prince as being Hindu and belonging to the powerful Hindu empire Sri Vijaya. So all of a sudden our museums, school text-books etc. all refer to Parameswara as a Malay prince. Umno’s lying, mind you, is not confined to the mainstream newspapers.

You cannot change your race even if you convert and I’m appalled that Azly Rahman has joined this bandwagon in inferring that Parameswara could have been responsible for Umno’s proud heritage of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’. If this is what it is based on, there is no ‘Ketuanan Melayu’. The lineage of Melaka Sultans are Indians, not Malays.

It is one thing for Umno to lie but for a columnist not to research his facts, it is disgraceful.

As Hitler’s public relations manager, Goebbels, once said, ‘If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth’. This is probably what the ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ proponents are trying to do.

This is probably also why the lost city found deep in the jungles of Johor a few years ago and made headlines in the mainstream newspapers in 2005, suddenly disappeared from the news.

After all, this was an extremely important archeological find that pointed to one of the greatest empires in history, the Raja Cholan empire that ruled from the Maldives through India, Sri Lanka and right down to South East Asia.

Again I reiterate, this is Raja-raja Cholan, the Indian/Hindu kings and not Raja Chulan, a Malay king.

Frankly, it should not even matter to those of us who love history, like me. What race ruled or did not rule is besides the point. What is important is not butchering history to create your own truths. Those of us who are not racists are angry that we are forced to sound like one in defending the truth.

I don’t even want to go near the subject raised about Hang Tuah being Chinese. Again, it should not matter. I’m sure the Chinese and Indians are not going to gloat and wave their staffs or swords and say: ‘See, all of you minuscule people, he is from my race’. This sort of pettiness comes only from small minds. What is important is to tell the truth as it is.

I end with questions from one baffled blogger: ‘Why is the study of Hang Tuah taken out from our school history text books? Even if Hang Tuah’s a different race altogether, what significance does it do to our history?’ Precisely.

So my question is, if this finding about Hang Tuah being Chinese is flawed, then why the disappearance from our text-books?


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