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Surviving 38 years of the May 13 bloodshed

Yesterday, May 13, activist Dr Kua Kia Soong launched a significant book to give a different perspective to the May 13 incident.

may13kkscover_small.jpgThe book, titled May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969, is based on newly declassified documents including foreign dispatches and confidential reports at the time, which are now made available in the Public Records Office in London after the 30-year secrecy rule over these documents had lapsed.

Kua, an ex-ISA detainee and now principal of New Era College, concluded his findings by arguing that the May 13 incident was a plot to oust then premier Tunku Abdul Rahman and not spontaneous clashes between Malay and Chinese as official history trying to paint it. Quote:

“The (official) history of May 13 is full of nonsense, it doesn’t reveal anything. It pins the blame on the opposition party which was not true, they were not the responsible party,” Kua told malaysiakini in a recent interview.

“My book shows the responsible party were those ascendent state capitalist class (in Umno), elements within that gave rise and implemented this plan. There was a plan based on the people who assembled at the (Selangor) menteri besar(Harun Idris)’s house. [...]

Kua maintained the May 13 incident was a coup d’etat against the Tunku by the then emergent Malay state capitalists - backed by the police and army - to seize control of the reign of power from the old aristocrats to implement the new Malay agenda. [...]

A secret document from the British cabinet office featured in the book showed that barely a week after the riots broke out, the Central Intelligence Agency had figured out what Tun Razak was planning - “to formalise Malay dominance, sideline the Chinese and shelve the Tunku”.

Interestingly, former head of the Special Branch Yuen Yuet Ling showed up at the book launching ceremony and address the audience during Q&A; time and declared that the May 13 bloodshed has no connection to the Malaysan Communist Party.

Kua, however, strongly advocated the formation of a commission of inquiry to let the nation attain the truth over the tragedy.

“The inquiry is crucial for national reconciliation -- the elusive national unity we talk about, the elusive ethnic relation we want in this country but unless we have that inquiry, we will not get that reconciliation,” Kua said.

Malaysiakini has detailed citations and excerpts of the book:
- Exorcising the ghosts of May 13
- What actually happened during the 1969 tragedy
- Unveiling the ‘May 13’ riots

The book is priced RM20 per copy. Get it at Suaram, or from the bookshops next week.


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I will pick one up and read this.

Actually, it was the opposition that sparked off the riots. Because:

1. They won the elections.

2. They were mostly non Malays.

3. They celebrated (they held a victory procession and all).

So, the other parties are a little sensitive. And trouble began.

If you win, don't lah rub it in.

If you lose, don't lah be so sensitive. There's always the next time.

Both parties seriously underestimated the other.

I always wanted to know what happened then. Will get the book when it is out!

Get it before those inferior politikus ban it.

Yumcious, Duh, history is something for us to learn. You point of view sound valid, but I don't agree it at all. Simplify the situation with excuses is laughable.

Let me ask you, will it prevent WWI Archduke Franz Ferdinand not killed ? How about WW2?

The official media tried to preempt the book yesterday by a sudden rash of feel-good articles. That action alone reinforces that the book does echo the truth of that past only unearthed by sourcing from declassified documents made available elsewhere which also implies that the rakyat, all of us, have been fed a lie to hide the role of Umno ultras in the entrechment of race-based policies purportedly set up to create more harmonious equity but in fact are used to subsidize their own agenda, one that was built on pools of blood.

The event ignited outside Harun Idris' house; some would say that Mahathir's brother-in-law, the Umno polsec then, had a hand in it. It points the finger to a group of Umno ultras as the cause of the conflict. That the police and national security groups didn't do enough to diffuse the situation and protect the other races is a clear indictment of national justice and shows the insidious nature of what governance can mean, for their dereliction to their oath to protect all means their loyalty can be bent by whatever the officialdom of the moment wanted.

We should never have a situation in this country when people who are mandated to protect all fail to do so along racial lines. By the same tenet, along the religious line.

The revelations of this book mark an important signpost in the history of this country. That it is coming out as this nation reaches fifty is timely and relevant, given the flip-flop nature of our inter-racial relationships that is floundering on the choppy sea of Umno's national policies and their implementation.

The question remains - is the present DPM fully cognizant of what his father had really done to the non-malays and equally important, will the group-of-seven vs-a-vs the Maybank/Ambank directive come out to say they too will be reading it with more open minds?

Even as it is already far too late, we cannot attempt to start a more genuinely harmonious society and heal old wounds while making new co-adjustments if people who can do something don't squarely face up to facts. Given the deep implications of this publication, how can all come together again and candidly say that there's enough for all to care and share because that's the sanest thing left to do to get beyond the race, religion and politics cards that keep opening up every day of our lives?

Actually Yumcious makes a valid point. Lets not talk about the precursour, the root cause, but the riots happened because parties made decisions that escalated the effects of the root cause. The fact of the matter is, one should be civlised in winning and defeat, and neither side did.

And we keep on underestimating each other over the years. Boy oh boy, lets see what kind of hubbub is brewing even now.

just when TAR was held in high regards in Tun Ismail's autobiography, then shit happens. He was also highly regarded in a another book, "ousted". If this is true, then Tun ismail may be involved too.

alfabob is right - both parties are to blame. The DAP and Gerakan rallies featured people chanting slogans about how Kuala Lumpur now belonged to the Chinese, and the Malays should "balik kampung".

As for Tunku Abdul Rahman, it's important not to idolise him. He was a great man, but like any man, he had many flaws. Blaming May 13 on the MCP was just one of them.


Time Magazine in 1969 covered the May 13 1969 race riots in the May 23 1969 issue and also in the July 18 1969 issue of the magazine.

Malaysian Unplug posted the two Time Magazine articles.

The Time Magazine inn 1969 somewhat confirmed Dr Kua's findings in his book about a possible stage-managed environemtn to instigate a race riot.

READ: http://malaysianunplug.blogspot.com/2007/05/time-magazines-report-on-malaysia-in.html

I was too young on May 13 1969 to know what going on then. It is time now for the government to consider appointing an independent royal commission to make inquiry to ascertain the truth. We young Malaysians deserve to know the truth. But I doubt the current BN government will do so. It is time after 50 years to change the ruling party.

deputy prime minister declared NO enquiry will be setup ... he further said let bygone be bygone - don't look back but look at future ....

hmmm, wonder why all of a sudden our minister is so civilized and far-sighted ... if it's the opposition's problem, by all means this is the best chance to whack them before the coming general election, don't you think?

cheers ...


Another magazine the Far Eastern Economic Review in 1969 covered in greater detail in several issues on the May 13 1969 race riots.

Taken from the archives:

Click below to read the magazine's articles written in 1969:


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