May 13 – Part I – IV by Raja Petra Kamaruddin

September 26, 2008 at 7:05 am 10 comments

   We start off the May 13 discussion with a 3 part article by the lengendary Raja Petra Kamaruddin who at the time of writing is still languishing in prison under the ISA.

They say those who forget history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. In light of the recent sabre-rattling by those in Umno and the warning by the Armed Forces Chief, Malaysia Today feels compelled to republish an old article by Raja Petra Kamarudin that was published in Harakah on 24 September 1999.


Raja Petra Kamarudin


This is Part One of an article I wrote almost nine years ago, which was published in Harakah, the official media organ of the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS). History is not something that should remain buried. History is something that should be a lesson to all or us so that we do not repeat the mistakes made by those before us.

In 1968, Umno fanned racial sentiments in a bid to ‘unite’ the Malays under its banner. Umno realised that the Malays were abandoning it in droves and it needed an issue to reunite the Malays. Further to that, the Prime Minister was being blamed for what Umno perceived as a loss of Malay support and the Young Turks in Umno wanted to also use this issue to pressure the Prime Minister into resigning.

Twenty years later, in 1988, Umno again went into turmoil with the emergence of Team A and Team B, which eventually split into Umno Baru and Semangat 46. Again, just like twenty years before that, the Malays had become disillusioned with the Umno leadership and there was a danger that Umno would suffer the same fate it did in 1969 if the general election was called.

The Umno leadership very cleverly got the Umno Youth and MCA Youth leaders to raise racial issues and bring the country to the brink of another ‘May 13’. This was when that infamous gathering at the TPCA padang in Kampong Baru was held and when Najib Tun Razak, the Umno Youth Leader, raised the keris and threatened to bathe it in Chinese blood.

Of course, this second ‘May 13’ never happened. What did happen instead was that Operasi Lalang was launched and more than 100 opposition leaders and activists were detained under the Internal Security Act. Najib and the MCA Youth Leader, Lee Kim Sai, however, were spared detention, although they were the two main players in the whole episode.

The ploy did not quite succeed though. In the 1990 general election, half the Malays swung to the opposition and Umno lost most of the Malay heartland to Semangat 46 and PAS.

Twenty years on and history is, again, being repeated. It appears like every twenty years Umno takes the country to the brink of a race riot in its effort to ‘unite’ the Malays and to ensure that it does not lose Malay support. And the 8 March 2008 general election, as well as the recent Permatang Pauh by-election, is proof that Umno has lost Malay support.

“The current situation is a repeat of 1969,” said Umno in its brainstorming session held at the Umno headquarters to conduct a post-mortem of the election results. “Therefore, a 1969 ‘solution’ will also be required.”

This is very dangerous talk indeed. And Umno has been doing nothing but talking dangerously since March 2008, as evident in the recent episode in Penang. Maybe the culprit has since been punished. Yesterday, Umno’s Supreme Council decided to suspend Ahmad Ismail for a period of three years. But the damage has already been done and the suspension can’t turn back the clock. Racial sentiments have already been fanned and Malaysia, again, is being pushed to the brink of a race riot.

Malays, Chinese and Indians need to know how May 13 started. They must be made aware of what May 13 was really all about. They must be made to realise that the current sabre-rattling is nothing but the same ploy that Umno used back in 1968 and 1988 whenever it felt that it was losing Malay support. May 13 was not about race although it is being touted as so. May 13 was about ‘reuniting’ the Malays and about ousting the Prime Minister from office.

To forget history would be to repeat its mistakes. Let us not be taken in by Umno’s shadow-play (wayang kulit). They know they are rapidly losing power and they want to retain power through foul means by raising the spectre of May 13. Malaysians need to be matured and clever enough to reject this ploy. Umno can try, but whether it can succeed will all depend on whether we get suckered into this very dangerous race game.

Let me take you down memory lane and recap what I wrote nine years ago so that we may learn from this dark history and not repeat what went wrong. As follows is what I wrote in Harakah on 24 September 2008.



The following statement is a factual account of the above-mentioned event given to me by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman (first Prime Minister of Malaysia) during an interview at his residence in Penang in 1972. I requested to discuss the above incident and was surprised when the appointment was given within three days.

His Secretary, a Chinese gentleman, allotted me one hour and advised me not to go into too much detail as this would tire the Tunku unnecessarily. In fact, the interview lasted three and a half hours. Because of the very surprising details provided to me, I think it would be best to report in a first-hand manner based on my notes written immediately after the interview.

“It was clear to me as well as the police that in the highly charged political atmosphere after the police were forced to kill a Chinese political party worker on May 4th, 1969, something was bound to happen to threaten law and order because of the resentment towards the Government by the KL Chinese on the eve of the general election. This was confirmed at this man’s funeral on the 9th May when the government faced the most hostile crowd it had ever seen.

Therefore, when the opposition parties applied for a police permit for a procession to celebrate their success in the results of the general election, I was adamant against it because the police were convinced that this would lead to trouble. I informed Tun Razak about this and he seemed to agree.

Now, without my knowledge and actually “behind my back”, there were certain political leaders in high positions who were working to force me to step down as a PM. I don’t want to go into details but if they had come to me and said so I would gladly have retired gracefully.

Unfortunately, they were apparently scheming and trying to decide on the best way to force me to resign. The occasion came when the question of the police permit was to be approved.

Tun Razak and Harun Idris, the MB of the state of Selangor, now felt that permission should be given, knowing fully well that there was a likelihood of trouble. I suppose they felt that when this happened they could then demand my resignation.

To this day I find it very hard to believe that Razak, whom I had known for so many years, would agree to work against me in this way. Actually he was in my house, as I was preparing to return to Kedah, and I overhead him speaking to Harun over the phone saying that he would be willing to approve the permit when I left. I really could not believe what I was hearing and preferred to think it was about some other permit.  In any case, as the Deputy Prime Minister, in my absence from KL, he would be the Acting PM and would override my objection.

Accordingly, when I was in my home in Kedah, I heard over the radio that the permit had been approved.

It seems as though the expected trouble was anticipated and planned for by Harun and his UMNO Youth. After the humiliating insults hurled by the non-Malays, especially the Chinese, and after the seeming loss of Malay political power to them, they were clearly ready for some retaliatory action.

After meeting in large numbers at Harun’s official residence in Jalan Raja Muda near Kampong Bahru, and hearing inflammatory speeches by Harun and other leaders, they prepared themselves by tying ribbon strips on their foreheads and set out to kill Chinese. The first hapless victims were two of them in a van opposite Harun’s house who were innocently watching the large gathering. Little did they know that they would be killed on the spot.

The rest is history. I am sorry but I must end this discussion now because it really pains me as the Father of Merdeka to have to relive those terrible moments. I have often wondered why God made me live long enough to have witnessed my beloved Malays and Chinese citizens killing each other.”

This was a conspiracy at the highest level and nothing short of a power struggle, with the ‘Young Turks’ then forming the pressure group. To achieve their ends, they very cleverly used race to make the Malays rise and push the Tengku aside.

Today, they are doing it again. This is dangerous politics. It may backfire and, instead, it may make the Malays rise against the non-Malays, like what happened in 1969 — a fire raging out of control with no fire extinguisher in sight.

We must never allow our country to be turned into a racial battlefield again. Let politics be issues concerning policies, civil rights, good governance and justice. Let us not allow anyone to bring race and religion into our politics lest we suffer the fate of many countries around us where mass murders of entire families are made in the name of ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’.


UMNO is at it again! They are going round the country saying that keADILan and PAS have allowed the National Mosque to be used by non-Muslims to attack Muslims. UMNO politicians and Pusat Islam officials have likened the non-Muslims to “unclean” people because of their pork-eating and liquor-drinking; so they should not have been allowed into the mosque.

Maybe these narrow-minded people have not noticed the daily busloads of foreign tourists visiting the National Mosque as part of their itinerary? Have these foreign (non-Muslim) tourists been screened whether they eat pork or drink liquor before being allowed into the mosque? I bet not!

UMNO adopted this very dangerous strategy once, 30 years ago, back in 1969, which resulted in the infamous May 13 racial riots. Now they are doing it again. It was a very narrow-minded and short-sighted strategy then. It still is now — maybe even more so now seeing that we have entered the borderless cyber age and are about to enter a new millennium.

Race and religion should no longer be used to separate Malaysians in the divide-and-rule policy of the Barisan Nasional government. The Malays, Chinese and Indians must protest strongly and reject this outdated racial politics that is extremely dangerous and can disrupt the peace and stability of this multi-racial, multi-religious country of ours. UMNO is saying one thing to the Malays, and the opposite to the non-Malays. This is the height of hypocrisy.
Do any of you know the REAL story behind May 13 — how is started, why it was started, and who started it? If not, then let me take you down memory lane.

Contrary to what the (local) history books try to tell us, May 13 was NOT about Malay and Chinese rivalry. It may have eventually ended that way, but that definitely was not how it started out. May 13 was basically a Malay political struggle with racialism used as a camouflage.

To understand May 13, we need to go back to the pre-Merdeka days to see how independence was achieved and how the first leaders of independent Malaya were groomed to take over running the country.

The British knew that, one day, they would have to grant independence to Malaya. India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and many countries around this region had already gained independence from their colonial masters. In 1946, the independence movement in Malaya had also started, giving birth to the first Malay political party, UMNO. It was a matter of time before the British would have to give in to the demands of the Malays.

The British thought that the best way to grant independence to Malaya, yet still have some control over their old colony, would be to groom the leaders who would take over and educate them the British way so that they would soon become more English than the Englishman.

In the mid 1940s, the British doors were thrown open to the Malays and the first batch of Malays was brought over to England to receive an English education. These were mostly the sons of the elite and royalty — Tengku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, and many more future leaders of Malaya. Tengku Rahman was definitely given special treatment by the British to the extent he was the only student in Cambridge history ever allowed to own a car on campus (everyone else rode bicycles). He drove a MG sports car and spent his years enjoying the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Eventually these young graduates of an English education were brought back to Malaya and given government posts as part of their training to one day take over the reins of power. As an example Tengku became a District Officer in Kedah, a post normally reserved for the “white man”.

Needless to say, these English educated Malays enjoyed all the trappings of England including cricket, rugby, tea-at-four, brandy-after-dinner, and so on, not to mention a day at the dog races.

Eventually, Merdeka was won and, in 1957, the local Malays took over running the government. But it was merely a changing of the skin colour. The management style remained the same. It was Merdeka without losing the English influence. In fact, as mentioned earlier, the Malays of this era tended to be more English than even the Englishmen.

It was now twelve years after Merdeka and the “young Turks” in UMNO were getting restless and wanted a change of leadership. These young Turks such as Hussein Onn and Dr Mahathir Mohamad had no sentimental attachments to the British, as they were educated in India and Singapore respectively. They were also angry that Tengku Abdul Rahman surrounded himself with Chinese businessman.
Mahathir made this point very clear in his letter to the Tengku which goes as follows:

“You have become so powerful, both by virtue of your office and by popular acclaim, that UMNO has become subservient to you. UMNO is being held together, not because the members share your ideas on politics, but through a system of patronage and disguised coercion based on Government rather than party authority.

A feeling of power normally grips those who wield patronage, a feeling that they can mould and shape people and opinions any way they please. The leaders of UMNO, the senior partners of the Alliance Government, have succumbed to this disease and, believing that they no longer need to heed the opinions of their supporters, they disregard them at every turn.

Laws have been hurriedly passed without prior consultation with the representatives who have had to “sell” these laws to the people. Tax innovations have been made and discarded with complete disregard for the disrupting effect on the public. In the main, Parliamentary sittings are regarded as a pleasant formality which afford members an opportunity to be heard and quoted, but which have absolutely no effect on the course of the Government. The sittings are a concession to a superfluous democratic practice. Off and on, this strength is used to change the constitution. The manner, the frequency, and the trivial reasons for altering the constitution have reduced this supreme law of the nation to a useless scrap of paper.

Your Ministers and the Cabinet are vested with this decision-making authority. It is obvious that only the most capable and experienced should be made Ministers and be in the Cabinet. But independent Malaysia has chosen to treat membership of the Cabinet as a reward for loyalty to party chiefs and acceptability to the Prime Minister. Once appointed, no amount of dereliction of duty could affect the position of a Minister. On the other hand, even if the Minister performs well, failure to remain on good terms with the Prime Minister means removal from the Ministry.

Your Government of mediocre people is bereft of ideas, is unable to understand the limits of their authority, and is generally unable to rule. All the while, however, your Government is busy on devices to perpetuate itself. These devices are so transparent and so lacking in subtlety that they achieve just the opposite effect.

May I remind you, Merdeka has brought power and wealth to the new Malay elite. Politics is found to be the panacea. It provides a shortcut to everything. It makes possible the attainment of positions of immense power. These Malays are in a position to acquire riches.

At first, this might seem grossly unfair. These few Malays – for they are still only a very few – have waxed riches not because of themselves, but because of the policy of a Government supported by a huge majority of poor Malays. It would seem that the efforts of the poor Malays have gone to enrich a select few of their own people. The poor Malays themselves have not gained one iota. With the existence of the few rich Malays, at least the poor Malays can say that their fate is not entirely to serve the rich non-Malays. From their point of view of racial ego, and this ego is still strong, the unseemly existence of Malay tycoons is essential.

The various races in Malaysia are differentiated not merely by ethnic origin, but also by many other characteristics. These characteristics are important. How these characteristics develop is another matter, but when races compete in a given field, these characteristics play an extremely important role. The Jews, for example are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively.

The possession of these characteristics means little until different races come into contact with each other. Jewish stinginess and financial wizardry gained them the commercial control of Europe and provoked an anti-Semitism, which waxed and waned throughout Europe through the ages.

The first thing that comes to mind is that the vast majority of Malays are feudalistic and wish to remain so. A revolution, which starts off by preaching the destruction of the established monarchical order, will therefore fail. It will not win the support of the majority of orthodox Malays. In any case, the monarch has done no real harm to the Malays or to anyone else. The maintenance of the system is no doubt costly, but being separated from power, the ruler cannot constitute a tyranny. Besides, a Malaysia without rulers would mean the complete eclipse of the Malays. It is the rulers who have in the past furnished and continued to present the Malay character of Malaysia. Remove them, and the last vestige of traditional Malaysia would disappear. It is essential therefore that the monarchy remains.

To take on an adversary when it seems to be beyond one’s capacity is courageous. To calculate and assess one’s chances first is to exhibit cowardice. Time and again this inability or unwillingness to measure the odds against them has led to defeat and disaster for the Malays. The courageous or brave Malay is usually foolhardy, and because he is likely to do things without thinking of the consequences, the average Malay treats him with fear and respect. The ordinary man knows that it is not worthwhile to incur his displeasure and that it is safer to let him have his own way. The ordinary man therefore represents the other extreme when principle is easily set aside for the sake of safety.

Even feudalism can be beneficial if it facilitates changes. The political Rajas of today can, therefore, institute change if they themselves are willing to change. Such a change would spread rapidly. If the indications are that there should be a change in the value system and ethical code, then the leaders can lead the way with the certainty that they will be followed by the masses. In a feudal society, if the leaders fail, then there is little hope for the masses.”


The move to push Tunku Abdul Rahman aside had started. They needed something to trigger off some form of resentment against the government. They needed the Malays to rise, and what better platform to exploit than a racial platform?

Prior to that, 11 Chinese prisoners were sentenced to death for killing a Malay prison warden in Pudu Jail. This was subsequently turned into a Malay-Chinese issue.

The Malays wanted the 11 Chinese punished. The Chinese wanted their death sentence commuted. And demonstrations were held in the Chinese dominated areas around Kuala Lumpur to pressure the government to pardon the 11. In one large demonstration outside Pudu Jail, the riot police had to be called in the break up the demonstration with teargas. That was my first experience with teargas, and I was only 19 then.

The government had no choice but to back down, thereby angering the Malays.

In another incident, some Chinese demonstrated in front of the United States Information Service (USIS) office and one demonstrator was shot dead by a panicking Malay policeman — interpreted as another Malay-Chinese thing.

The Chinese wanted a funeral procession but the police would not grant them permission as they knew it would attract a huge crowd and the funeral would be turned into a demonstration instead. Tun Razak, however, told the police to grant them permission and ordered the police off the streets. The resulting “giant” parade built up tensions further.

The May 1969 General Elections were held soon after and the Alliance Party won only 40% of the votes resulting in it losing its two-thirds majority in Parliament. It also lost a couple of states to the opposition plus its two-thirds majority in others.

The opposition parties held “victory parades” which turned into a mud-slinging and name-calling session. The Malays were now really angry and decided to hold a victory parade of their own. Dato Harun, the then Chief Minister of Selangor, was given the task of managing this “event”.

On May 13, the entire cabinet withdrew to Frazers Hill while the Malays prepared for trouble. People in the top echelon of the government and commerce were tipped off to get out of town or go home early and, by 3.00pm, the city was quite deserted of the elite except for the unknowing rakyat.

That same evening, racial riots exploded. Parliament was dissolved, thereby saving the Alliance government that no longer had a majority in Parliament, and power was transferred to Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak under the National Operations Council (NOC).

The Tunku was now powerless.

Mahathir then increased his attacks on the Tunku using race as his platform. He also called for MCA’s expulsion from the Alliance to “punish” the Chinese. Instead, Dr Mahathir was expelled from Umno as the Utusan Malaysia newspaper report of 6 June 1969 reveals:


KUALA LUMPUR 5 June – Some leading members of UMNO’s Supreme Council have voiced their support for the decision by MCA leadership to exclude themselves from the Cabinet. Among them are Tan Sri Syed Jaafar Albar, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad and Syed Nasir bin Ismail.

In a meeting with Utusan Malaysia, Tan Sri Syed Jaafar emphasised his disapproval of efforts made to ask MCA to re-enter the Cabinet.

“I do not agree with the way some Chinese chambers of commerce have stated their confidence and support of Tun Tan Siew Sin and their asking him to reconsider MCA’s decision to withdraw from the Cabinet,” he said.

According to him, the problem now was not the question of confidence towards Tun Tan Siew Sin as the MCA leader, but whether the Chinese supported the present policies of the Alliance.

“This is the matter that should be considered by these people who are making a big fuss about giving their support to Tun Tan Siew Sin today,” he added.

Tan Sri Jaafar Albar also stated that the support given to Tun Tan Siew Sin by the Chinese Chambers of Commerce was not sufficient because support had to come from the majority of the Chinese population.

He stated that discussions about MCA’s inclusion in the Cabinet should not be confined to the newspapers or to MCA alone because UMNO, as the backbone of the Alliance party, had not decided yet if MCA and MIC should be included in the Cabinet or if the Alliance should remain as it was then.

He said: “It is not only the duty of MCA to discuss this matter as if it is its own peculiar problem, but it should be the responsibility of all the Alliance leaders from the UMNO, MCA, and MIC.”

However, he did not want to give his final views before the party met to discuss the matter.

Mahathir, who supported Tan Sri Syed Jaafar’s statement, stressed that MCA leaders had to adhere to their earlier decision of not wanting to be included in the Cabinet.

He said that he agreed with the view of MCA leaders that they could not actually represent the people they claimed to represent.

According to Mahathir, the support given to Tun Tan Siew Sin by the Chinese chambers of commerce and other Chinese organisations could not be taken as support from the Chinese community as a whole to MCA because those organisations did not represent the desires of the Chinese community as a whole.

“If MCA wants to know whether they have the support of the Chinese, they have to wait for the next general election. Since this will take quite some time, it is no longer necessary for MCA to remain in the Cabinet,” he emphasised.

Mahathir also said that MIC’s position in the Cabinet should also be reconsidered.

Syed Nasir stressed that on the whole, the relationship between UMNO, MCA and MIC had to be reviewed to take in the changes which had taken place after the general elections.

“The people have expressed their needs and desires, and there is little point in pretending that the policies of the Alliance party are the best acceptable to them,” he said.

Part IV

In a Press Statement released by UMNO’s Secretary General, Senu Abdul Rahman, reported by the Utusan Melayu newspaper on 6 June 1969, it said:

“Mahathir Mohamad ceases to be a member of the UMNO Supreme Council with effect from today, 12 July 1969.

This decision was taken following the wide distribution to the public of Mahathir’s letter to Tunku Abdul Rahman, President of UMNO Malaysia.

Letters containing important matters should first be discussed by UMNO’s Supreme Council, especially in view of the present situation in the country.

The action taken by Mahathir is seen to be in breach of the party’s etiquette and is capable of damaging party solidarity and the government which the party supports.”


Mahathir replied to this in his letter to the Tengku dated 17th June 1969.

“Your opinions were based on stories you heard from people who surround you, and who tell you only what they think you like to hear or should hear. Permit me to tell you what the position, the thoughts and the opinions of the people are really, so that you can understand my motive for making that press statement.

You yourself told me that you have prevented a riot by commuting the death sentence of the 11 subversive Chinese. In truth this very action sparked the riots of 13 May, which resulted in the deaths of many, many more.

Your ‘give and take’ policy gives the Chinese everything they ask for. The climax was the commuting of the death sentence, which made the majority of the Malays angry. The Chinese on the other hand regarded you and the Alliance government as cowards and weaklings who could be pushed around.

That was why the Chinese and the Indians behaved outrageously toward the Malays on 12th May. If you had been spit in the face, called dirty names and shown obscene gestures and private parts, then you could understand how the Malays felt. The Malays whom you thought would never rebel went berserk, and they hate you for giving too much face. The responsibility of the deaths of these people, Muslim or Infidels, rests on the shoulders of the leader who holds views based on wrong assumptions.

I regret writing this letter, but I have to convey to you the feelings of the Malays. In truth the Malays whether they are UMNO or PMIP supporters really hate you, especially those who had lost homes, children and relatives, because of your ‘give and take’ policy.

They said you wanted to be known only as ‘The Happy Prime Minister’ even though others are suffering. They said that although the country was in a state of emergency you were engrossed playing poker with your Chinese friends. Even the policemen said that you were using official cars and police escorts to contact your poker gang.

Lately, another disturbing factor came to light. The Malays in the Civil Service, from Permanent Secretary downwards, Army Officers and the Malays in the Police Force have lost faith and respect for you. I know that the majority of them voted for the PMIP through mail ballots….

I wish to convey what the people really think, that is that it is high time you resign as our Prime Minister and UMNO leader.

I am fully aware of the powers you still hold and I remember too well the fate of AZIZ ISHAK. But I would be irresponsible if I do not explain what I have said earlier. Even if I am jailed, I have to say what I have already said.

Once more I wish to repeat that the statement I made [on the continued exclusion of the MCA from the Cabinet] is to prevent the Malays from hating the Government more and to stop the Chinese from abusing the dignity of the Malays. A bigger riot will occur if this is allowed. The military itself will be beyond control.

I pray to God it will open your heart to accept the truth bitter though it may be.”


Soon after, the Tengku stepped aside and Tun Razak took over as Prime Minister. The opposition parties were invited to join the government and the Alliance gave way to the Barisan Nasional giving the government back their two-thirds majority in Parliament. Later on, of course, PAS left the BN to stay on as an opposition party.

This was a conspiracy at the highest level and nothing short of a power struggle with the “Young Turks” then forming the pressure group. To achieve their ends, they very cleverly used race to make the Malays rise and push Tengku aside.

Today they are doing it again, but this time to try to push keADILan and PAS aside. This is dangerous politics. It may backfire and, instead, it may make the Malays rise against the non-Malays, like what happened in 1969 — a fire raging out of control and no fire extinguisher in sight.

We must never allow our country to be turned into a racial battlefield again. Let politics be issues concerning policies, civil rights, good governance and justice. Let us not allow anyone to bring race and religion into our politics lest we suffer the fate of many countries around us where mass murders of entire families are made in the name of “bangsa” and “agama”.

Two more BONUS articles on May 13 by Raja Petra Kamaruddin taken from Malaysia Today:

taken from:

What you said about May 13 1969 is true but it is only part of the story. The whole May 13 incident was planned by UMNO ultras quickly and purposefully to stage a coup de tat againstTunku Abdul Rahman who they feel had been too soft on the Chinese Read the account by Subky Latif (yes, the very same Subky who is now KL PAS commissioner) in an article he wrote for SEAsian Affairs in 1977 when he was a journalist and very close to the then top UMNO leadershi. The results of the 1969 polls showed that both Selangor and Perak states were deadlocked between Alliance and Opposition and Dato Harun, then MB was afraid of losing his position and Alliance lose control in the two states. Harun’s fear became aggravated when then DAP sec-gen Goh Hock Guan said there was nothing in the Selangor constitution that stated that only a Malay can become MB. At federal level, UMNO was shocked at the prospect that if present anti-Alliance trends continued, they would lose the KL very much in the same way that Alliance had lost Penang in the next polls in 5 year’s time, and since UMNO’s hold was so strong on the Malays, they naturally feared that political power was slipping out of their hands. No doubt the victory processions of the Chinese opposition like DAP and Gerakan taunting the Malays aggravated their fears…but it should be remembered the very same people who expressed these fears had suffered a lot of racial discrimination under UMNO, naturally felt this was the right way and beginning to end Malay domination through the ballot box…The UMNO leaders felt the same way, and according to Subky, they planned the riots quickly and purposefully…it is clear those who planned the riots had also been involved in similar racial riots in Bukit Mertajam and Singapore in 1964…Dato Harun and Ahmad Razali quickly mobilized Malays nationwide for a counter demonstration in KL…They managed to get some 6,000 parangs hidden in a culvert in a mosque in Kampong Bahru….The riots first broke out in the Kampong Bahru/Raja Laut/Chow Kit area..when the Malay mobs armed with parangs came out of Kampong Bahru and started attacking Chinese and Indian passers-by, burning cars and torching Chinese shophouses in the Raja Laut/Chow Kit areas…Chinese gangsters came out to defend the Chinese and Indians and fought with the Malays with sharpened lead pipes…then the Malay regiment came out and started shooting the Chinese with their guns…a lot of people died in the Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman area near the Odeon Cinema.

The casualties brought to the KLGH in stages showed that in the first stage, most of the casualties were Chinese suffering from parang wounds..this showed that that the Malays had attacked first and the Chinese were caught by surprise…The 2nd stage casualties were almost equal between Chinese and Malays with parang wounds (Chinese) and wounds inflicted by sharpened pipes (Malays). In the 3rd stage, all the casualties were Chinese many dying from gunshot wounds showed reflected the shooting spree of the Malay regiment….Many of the victims were Chinese and Indians shot by Malay soldiers for “breaking the curfew”..what actually happened was that when their houses were burnt by the malay rioters, these non-Malays had to run out and were shot by the soldiers for “breaking the curfew”…I remember hearing over Radio Malaysia during the height of the riots that “curfew breakers would be shot…”

The mass graves of Chinese at Sungei Buloh and other places with some of the bodies tarred to prevent racial identification was true as described by other bloggers above…I need not mention them here….

But the May 13 riots gave the UMNO ultras the opportunity to kick out Tunku Abdul Rahman as Subky had mentioned….These ultras were the very same people who planned the 1964 racial riots in Singapore…the modus operandi was the same….the Malay tough guys or silat fighters with parangs struck the first blow, the Chinese retaliated through the gangsters, and the overwhelmingly Malay police force “restored” order where they apprehended only the Chinese and let the Malays go free as in the KL May 13 1969 riots…We do not know who the actual plotters of May 13 and the 1964 Singapore riots are…most would have been dead by now, or if they are alive in their late 70s and early 80s with the blood stains still on their hands..UMNO always tried to cover up its role in May 13, but from time to time can’t stop its former leaders who are in the know from exposing them…Take the case of Marina Yusof a few years ago at a Keadilan ceramah in Bukit Mertajam…she was charged with sedition..but what she said was true….

Anyway the May 13 riots gave the Malays the “best opportunity” to turn Malaysia into a Malay country as noted by Musa Hitam..Emergency was declared and NOC rule imposed….the seditions act was invoked to gag non-Malay critics while the NOC happily invoked more pro-Malay laws without opposition….and the rest they say is history..what is happening now with all kinds of restrictions on the non-Malays is the sum total of 36 years of ultra Malay rule, reinforced by Islamisation…we are heading towards a situation where Malays will eventually tell Chinese and Indians openly to return to their homelands if they don’t like it makes no difference whether they are citizens or not as they are of the wrong colour and religion under UMNO’s blatant racism policy which favours even Indonesian, Bangladeshi and Rohingya Muslims…with UMNO and also PAS turning on the screws and tightening them…..

Many Malays will be upset at what I have written, but at least they will now understand why the non-Malays are still very angry even though it is 36 years after the incident”

And 1969 was an ananomly, hardly reflecting the reality on the ground.


“But this was not so. May 13 was more than that. It was not just about killings and massacres. In fact, it comes nowhere close to a killing field. May 13 does have some good news and tales of tolerance and compassion, similar to what Hajjah Marina wrote on her experience — a Malay in distress in a predominantly Chinese market. Let me relate just some of those stories.

My late father, Raja Kamarudin bin Raja Sir Tun Uda, was a director of Lever Brothers (now called Unilever) during the May 13 era. One of his Chinese managers lived in Jalan Raja Abdullah (yes, THE Raja Abdullah, partner of Yap Ah Loy) in Kampong Baru, the epicenter of May 13. And his family was at home that afternoon of 13 May 1969.

When the Malay residents of Jalan Raja Abdullah heard that trouble had erupted along Jalan Raja Muda, they quickly ‘smuggled’ their Chinese neighbours into their homes. When some Malays started going house-to-house searching for Chinese, the Malays dressed the Chinese in Baju Melayu (Malay costume) and brought them over to the Kampong Baru Mosque — which by then had become a sort of refugee centre for all those stranded in Kampong Baru due to the curfew that had been imposed. No one could enter or leave Kampong Baru so the mosque was the safest place of refuge.

In the meantime, the Chinese manager was stranded in Lever Brothers’ office in Jalan Bangsar. He could not go home because of the curfew. Anyway, to go home would have been suicide because Kampong Baru and the areas surrounding it saw some of the worst racial skirmishes. The manager phoned the police who went over to his Jalan Raja Abdullah home and found the house burnt to the ground and the family missing. He assumed they had all been killed. The distraught manager did not know they were safe in the Kampong Baru Mosque dressed as Malays. Imagine his relief when many days later he found his family alive thanks to his Malay neighbours.

In Pasar Borong, an all-Chinese wholesale market (then along Jalan Ipoh behind the old Tabung Haji headquarters) it was the other way around. There was this lone Malay trader who was stranded there when trouble broke out. The Chinese traders at the market hid the Malay in some fish boxes, safe from the marauding Chinese who were looking for Malays to kill — just like what the Malays in Kampong Baru were doing.

He had to suffer the stench for a couple of days but the Chinese kept him alive until it was safe for him to emerge from his hiding place and go home to his family who had given him up for dead.
These are but two though by no means the only ‘good’ stories of May 13. Taman Seputeh was then (and still is, I think) a mixed Malay-Chinese neighbourhood. The residents got together to form a guard unit (equivalent to the Rukun Tetangga before the word was even invented) to patrol the area. When any armed Malays came to the neighbourhood, the Malay residents would go face them to negotiate safe passage for the Chinese and if any armed Chinese came instead, then the Chinese residents would reciprocate. Taman Seputeh saw no bloodshed the entire period.”


Entry filed under: Malaysia-Today.

May 13, 1969: Truth and reconciliation

10 Comments Add your own

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