“Marilah kita hidup atau mati sekarang!”
Excerpts from the article Musings and Reminiscences By Dato’ Mahadev Shankar, ex-Court of Appeal Judge and SUHAKAM Commissioner, on the May 13 incident.
“But the storm clouds were gathering and there were those who thought that the Tunku had distanced himself too far from the interests espoused by the Ultras. Nor was he helped in this by the extremism amongst the other communities. May 1969 was a dreadful time for us. In his speech to the nation which came on TV on the night of the 13th , after calling for help from volunteers to stem the tide of lawlessness which had befallen the nation well do I still remember his last words, “Marilah kita hidup atau mati sekarang!”
It was his darkest hour. It was left to Tun Dr. Ismail to come to the fore that night with a stirring call for unity and courage to overcome the odds.
A few days later he came with Tan Sri Manickavasagam to the hospital bedside of the little Indian girl from Sentul. She had both her arms chopped off at the elbows by someone who had got caught up with the madness that had swept the city. What can we do for this poor girl, Manicka asked Tengku. By then the reigns of power had passed on and Tengku replied, “All we can do now is to cry,” he said his heart breaking with sadness. And the Tengku shed his tears as did Manicka and all of us who witnessed this sorry spectacle.
We had rallied to his call in the service of the nation. I was assigned to Tan Sri Khir Johari, and the late Tan Sri Manickavasagam and, after the initial spurt to find food and shelter for the huge numbers of people who had been driven from their homes, setting up the National Relief Fund under the Chairmanship of the late Tan Sri Justice H.T. Ong, the National Goodwill Council was also set up under the Chairmanship of Tunku. But it all seemed in vain. We were unable to lift his spirits and he seemed to dwell in the depths of the darkest despair. He kept saying, “Laugh and the world laughs with you; Cry and you cry alone.”
But bounce back Tunku eventually did. His column in The Star – Sudut Pandangan: Points of View – did much to voice the concerns of a silent majority. The Tunku chided and cajoled when the occasion required and always was there to prick the consciences of all concerned to hasten the process of a return to full democracy.”
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