The way to bury ghost of May 13
Pakatan wants May 13 truth unearthed
Rahmah Ghazali | May 13, 08 6:26pm
Pakatan Rakyat leaders have called for a truth and reconciliation commission over the May 13 riots in 1969 in conjunction with the commemoration of the bloodshed’s 39th anniversary today.
At a press conference at the Parliament lobby today, top Pakatan leaders said the commission was important to uncover the facts behind the May 13 incident, which is still shrouded in a veil of secrecy.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said May 13 should be treated as a chapter in the history which will make the people appreciate the value of democracy and justice.
“(We however hope) the May 13 will not continue to haunt us or the Malaysian politics, or to be manipulated by any irresponsible party,” the Penang chief minister and Bagan MP told reporters.
PKR president and Opposition Leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (PKR-Permatang Pauh) added that the rakyat should “go beyond the memory of May 13”.
“We have proven there (can be) a smooth transition (of power after the March 8 polls) in four states and that’s why we don’t want to be haunted by the memory,” she said, referring to the frequent argument that any landslide opposition’s victory may lead to the repeat of the May 13 riots.
The May 13 riots, which took 196 lives according to official figure, have been a frequent source of public debate in view of the absence of a 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 that year. This has been rebutted by the opposition parties.
However, last year, an academician has argued that the riots were actually an attempt at a coup d’etat within a faction in Umno to oust then premier Tunku Abdul Rahman. The writer based his finding on various sets of confidential documents which were newly declassified.
Why dig up old issues?
Meanwhile, BN backbenchers, when approached for their comments, brushed off the need for a truth and reconciliation commission on May 13.
Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak) said there was no need for the commission as it would imply that justice was not done over the incident.
“The establishment of such a commission would give an implication that there’s no justice in this country,” Tajuddin told Malaysiakini at the Parliament lobby, adding that the politicians should be looking forward to building the country together.
“Why are we looking backwards if we want to build a united nation? What’s the purpose of digging up old issues? Whatever is good for the country and the people, then we should do it (as of) now,” he added.
Mukhriz Mahathir (BN-Jerlun) said there was no attempt to hide the facts behind the May 13 incident. He said the tragedy should be seen as a “blessing”.
He was referring to New Economic Policy, an affirmative action policy which favoured the bumiputera, that was introduced as a result of the May 13 incident.
“So the good that came out from such tragedy has been something that we have enjoyed even until now,” argued Mukhriz.
The way to bury ghost of May 13
PAKATAN Rakyat which called on Malaysians to move beyond the spectre of May 13 1969, wants a Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up so that questions surrounding the incident can finally be put to rest.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who read out a statement issued by the Opposition alliance, said the commission could then tell the people the real story behind what had happened.
He also pledged that PR would maintain peace, object to racial violence and speak out against anyone who encouraged racial tension.
He said that PR would also maintain the supremacy of all Malaysians and reject extremism, and urge the authorities not to take sides and to always act fairly, and support the continued use of democracy and constitutional monarchy.
PKR president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the smooth transition of power after the general election proved that there was no need to be afraid of May 13 anymore.
“We should be matured and move beyond that,” she told reporters at Parliament lobby.
Little enthusiasm for May 13 truth commission
Rahmah Ghazali | May 19, 08
Deputy 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.
“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.
Transparency 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.
Dr 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.
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.
“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.
The 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
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