NGOs demand May 13 Reconciliation Commission

May 13, 2010 at 9:17 am Leave a comment

Malaysiakini

One hundred NGOs and civil society groups today called on the government to form a reconciliation commission to unveil the truth behind the bloody May 13 racial riots, 41 years ago today.

The people need to know the truth of what really happened that day so that we can move on, said spokesperson for the coalition, Ambiga Sreenevasan (below) during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.

bar council sedition forum 110808 ambigaThe press conference with the theme ‘Make May 13 a day for peace, reason and freedom’ was held in response to the proposed controversial ‘Melayu Bangkit’ rally in Kuala Terengganu today. The rally, organised by Gerakan Kebangkitan Rakyat (Gertak), has since been postponed.

Suaram coordinator Tah Moon Hui reiterated that only the truth can bring closure for Malaysian society.

“There are so many different sides of the story, but nobody knows what really happened.

“In Korea and Taiwan, the governments support and organise peace forums to discuss how peace can be maintained,” he explained, saying Malaysia should emulate them in order to achieve a higher understanding and harmony between the races.

Chairperson of the Civil Rights Committee of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Liau Kok Fah said it is time for the government to recognise the need for such a commission.

No cause for celebration

Commenting on the ‘Melayu Bangkit’ rally that was supposed to take place today, Ambiga said that May 13 is not an event that calls for celebration.

“Many of us have lived through this black day in our history. It takes many years to heal the wounds of those affected by the riots,” she explained.

NONEShe urged Malaysians to take May 13 as a lesson that should not be repeated and the only way forward was to reject racial polarisation that continues to be advocated by politicians.

“Let us not forget how many people died and the many families who were affected by this event,” she said, pointing out that politicians should stop using May 13 as a bogeyman.

“We would not be easily intimidated,” she said regarding politicians’ threatsof a repeat of May 13.

Research for Social Advancement Director Richard Yeoh said politicians often use May 13 to distract the people from legitimate issues and urged the rakyat to avoid such a trap.

“Before March 8, 2008, people always voted in fear during each general election (after 1969). But now, we must move away from that and racial crimes should be treated more seriously,” he claimed.

‘Up to no good’

‘Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia’ representative Haris Ibrahim agreed and also suggested that it is time for the government to enact a Race Relations Act to deal with hate crimes.

NONEThe NGOs present at the press conference agreed that the right to assembly and freedom of speech was paramount but voiced collective concern over Gertak which they felt had sinister undertones that abused those rights.

“Look at their agenda and it is clear that they are going against the peace and harmony that the rest of us are working very hard for,” said Ambiga.

President of Jemaah Islah Malaysia, Zaid Kamaruddin, concurred, adding that it is evident the ‘Gertak bunch is up to no good’.

Also present was Ivy Josiah from the Women’s Aid Organisation who said that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s silence on the Gertak issue is saddening.

“The rally is unacceptable and against racial harmony,” she said.

‘It’s about time we have the courage to face history and find out the truth and put those killed forever to rest.’

Tearful memories of May 13

Anonymous: Racial and religious violence are happening in many places in the world and are engineered by selfish and hardheaded politicians and self-interested religious fanatics. One disaster in May 13 is enough for us and it taught us a good lesson.

Let us bury it and move this nation forward with justice and fairness for all, and throw out the selfish politicians and religious fanatics from whatever party.

BTN: It’s time the ghost of May 13 be brought to rest with an independent party investigating on this dark day and those who caused all this to happen – whether alive or dead – have to be responsible and brought to justice.

Chew Swee Yoke: Yes, it is true that the army was involved – I saw this on British TV news channels in May 1969 when I was a law student doing my Bar finals. On TV, I saw the soldiers aiming their guns upwards at windows along Batu Road.

I was so shocked that I cried and telephoned a sister in Crewe near Newcastle-under-lyme and said, ‘The soldiers are shooting at the Chinese – is mom safe in Petaling Jaya?’

I was traumatised and after sitting for my Bar finals, arranged with the Inns of Court to give me a re-sit even before the results were out as I was so certain I would fail. By the grace of God, I passed, but the horror of knowing the massacre was condoned officially is life-changing.
NGOs demand Reconciliation Commission

Baiyuensheng: I second that. It’s about time we have the courage to face history and find out the truth and put those killed forever to rest. A day that we mourned for those victims rather than used like a trophy and cowed other citizens into submission. Enough!

Swipenter: They cannot even agree to a proper IFC (interfaith commission). What makes you think that the Umno-led government wants to lay the ghost of May 13 to rest forever.

Hasn’t it been fashionable nowadays to threaten another May 13 against the nation and the non-Malays by right-wing and extremist Malay groups and Umno politicians?

I was in my early teens when May 13 incident happened. Every time when some irresponsible Umno politicians threaten to unleash another May 13 against the non-Malays, I resolved never to vote again for BN and do my best to get others never to vote for MCA, MIC, Gerakan and even Umno.

This country is wasted by racism and racial politics. Enough is enough.

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