"May 13 - Before and After"
Excerpts of this book by (the late) Tunku Abdul Rahman, them Prime Minister of malaysia, published in September 1969
May 13, 2003

"Victory" on the rampage

No one was more surprised, I am sure, than the DAP and the newly-formed Gerakan with their unexpected successes. They felt not only cocky, but downright arrogant. They lost no time in arranging to celebrate their "victories."

Dr. Tan Chee Khoon, who won his seat in Batu Selangor, with a big majority asked for Police permission to hold a procession by members of his Gerakan Party. A permit was granted on condition that it followed a route authorised by the Police.

(On 12th May) Dr. Tan's victory procession was held on an unprecedented scale, politically speaking, and was accompanied by acts of rowdyism and hooliganism and in utter defiance of the Police after the main procession had ended.

The procession went through unauthorised routes, jamming traffic everywhere as a consequence. With victory emotions on the loose and - there can be no other explanation - Communists urging them on, the victors made a serious blunder, and blunder it was.

The procession shouting its way along turned into Jalan Campbell and Jalan Hale - roads on the edge of an leading into Kampong Bahru where 30,000 Malays have lived in peace for years beneath the palms in their own settlement in the centre of Kuala Lumpur.

Jalan Hale is the main street of Kampong Bahru. There they proceeded to provoke the Malays, gibing at them and throwing their victory in their faces in the midst of what is virtually an UMNO stronghold.

On Tuesday, May 13th Gerakan Party's Yeoh Tech Chye, the President of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (who won big in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur) made an open apology in the press for his party supporters having caused such inconvenience to the public.

But the emotional damage had already been done.

I returned to Kuala Lumpur about lunchtime from Alor Star. My Principal Private Secretary informed me that he had received news that a counter demonstration was to be held on May 13th as the Malays were very annoyed.

UMNO was going to stage a procession to celebrate it's victory and that a crowd would gather in the compound of the house of the Menteri Besar of Selangor, Dato Harun bin Idris, in Jalan Raja Muda and that the procession would start from there.

I was personally worried that the procession might lead to trouble. It was not easy to stop it at this stage as the Opposition had already held processions, and permission had already been obtained for UMNO to have theirs.

May 13th

..…A phone call came through at 6.45pm that an ugly incident had taken place along Jalan Raja Muda in which some Chinese were assaulted.

Immediately afterwards Enche Mansor, the Kuala Lumpur Police Traffic Chief, and one or two others, came to see me and said that there had been killing. The city had been placed under immediate curfew as at 7 pm. The Security Forces were out, the army called in.

Naturally I could not sleep that night, my mind upset with the tragedy that had overtaken our peaceful capital and nation. I went out side my balcony outside my room looking down on the city in the valley by night. Flames were burning high in several areas, near Kampong Bharu and to the North.

Kuala Lumpur was a city on fire and it was a sight that I never thought I would see in my lifetime.

While they were gathered in the compound of Dato Harun's residence news came through suddenly that Chinese had attacked Malays in Setapak, a mile or two to the North, as they were on their way to join the procession starting from Jalan Raja Nuda.

The news created a storm of indignation; hell broke loose. Two Chinese passing by on motor cycles were attacked and killed. And so the riots of May 13th began, triggering off violence unprecedented in the history of Malaysa.

(A state of emergency was declared on May 16th and a National Operations Council set up to deal with all matters pertaining to it. The first act: round-the-clock curfew.)

..Within 48 hours it was possible for the Council to approve relaxation in the curfew in many areas of the country.

Even in the most sensitive ares, Kampong Bharu and the Jalan Chow Kit sections of Kuala Lumpur, where the violence had originated, it was possible after one week from the outbreak to announce curfew relaxations there.

There was no insecurity in the East Coast states. In Johore and Negri Sembilan no incidents had occurred at any time. In Malacca there had been a few minor troubles and they had now ceased as quickly as they had started.

There were no incidents taking place in Perak and Penang, Kedah and Perlis.

Apart from Kuala Lumpur, the only sections in the country needing the strictest vigilance were in the Betong salient, the rural areas along the Kedah and Perak borders with Thailand.

The general situation, however, was far from normal, mainly for one particular reason - rumours.

During the height of the disturbances rumour-mongering was wild and widespread as always happen anywhere in time of riot.
May 13, 2003