Lest We Forget

May 14, 2010 at 9:09 am Leave a comment

It would have been good if yesterday’s event had been declared a day of national healing. Malaysians of all races should have been invited to attend so that May 13 could be condemned and with one voice we shout, “Never again!”


NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Dr M: Malays must not forget May 13 bloodletting

By Rahmah Ghazali, Free Malaysia Today

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad feels that the Malays should be reminded of the May 13, 1969 racial riots so that a similar episode does not recur.

Mahathir said this in reference to the controversial ‘Melayu Bangkit’ rally, which was scheduled to be held yesterday but was postponed following strong objections from both sides of the political divide.

The former premier was supposed to have attended the rally, and talk about various issues affecting the Malays.

“I (was) not going there to stir up feelings between the different races, but to remind them if we don’t take care of this problem of race, then we will repeat our mistake.”

“But then if I go, of course I would be called a racist,” he told a press conference here.

‘Forgetting it is not a good idea’

The 84-year-old statesman also said that the tragic incident, which robbed hundreds of lives, is still fresh in his memory and he wants to use his experience to prevent such bloodletting from happening again.

“I went through May 13, so I know. I know it very deeply so I think I can help people so they don’t act in ways that will precipitate another May 13.”

“But this idea that we should forget May 13 altogether is not a very good idea,” he said.

In the aftermath of the 1969 riots, Mahathir was sacked from Umno over the wide distribution of  his scathing letter to the then prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.

In his letter, Mahathir had criticised Tunku’s administration as being more favourable to the Chinese.

Meanwhile, Malay pressure group president Ibrahim Ali and the ‘Melayu Bangkit’ rally organiser Gerakan Kebangkitan Rakyat (Gertak) slammed the critics for blowing the issue out of proportion.

Gertak said that the May 13 date was chosen out of convenience, and the main agenda of the rally was racial unity, and not to create animosity between the races.

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“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” said William L. Shirer is his epigraph for his ‘Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’.

Yes, we should remember the past. And we should remember the past not only for its glories but for its tragedies as well. Pining for the glory of the past will make us lose track of the realities of the present and make us forget the journey ahead of us.

Life is not a destination. Life is a journey. No one knows where the journey will take us. And the destination will be whatever we reach at the end of our journey.

True, we all have aims. And our aims may not always be realistic. There are times when we look at the past to plan our future. But planning our future by ignoring the present may lead us down the wrong path.

Muslims talk about the Golden Age of Islam. It was a time when the Muslim world saw greatness. But it was also a time when Europe reverted to the dark ages and was embroiled in wars and conflicts. The great Roman Empire was on a decline. A vacuum had been created. And the Muslim world merely filled that vacuum.

China was another great power. But it was not a great power with expansionist tendencies. It was a great power that closed its doors to the world. And China’s closed-door policy meant that the world was safe from what would possibly have been the successor to the great European Empires.

Would the Muslim world have seen the Golden Age of Islam had China decided that it was time for them to become the new empire of the modern world? Competition from China would have meant that the Muslim world would have joined Europe in its dark ages. But China offered the Muslim world no competition. Instead, it taught the Muslim world what Europe lacked. And with China as its teacher rather than its competitor the Muslim world overtook Europe and we saw what today we call the Golden Age of Islam.

What sent Europe back into the dark ages? Other than wars and conflicts, corruption and abuse of power were the prime factors for Europe’s decline. And when the Muslim world too adopted corruption and abuse of power as its new culture, it too went into decline.

The dark days of May 13 are not to be remembered for its glory, for there is no glory in racism and race riots. It is to be remembered as we would remember the Holocaust in Europe. It was a time when commonsense and logic no longer prevailed and insanity took over.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants the Malays to never forget the infamous May 13. The Malays are to be reminded about May 13. Should it not be the opposite? Should not the Malays instead be ashamed of May 13 and try hard not to be reminded of this dark episode in Malaysia’s history?

Yes, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. And we do not wish to see a repeat of May 13 just like we do not wish to see a repeat of the Holocaust. But we remember the Holocaust in a solemn ceremony. We mourn the victims. And we utter the oath: never again. We do not celebrate the Holocaust in a ceremony that would befit the celebration of Merdeka or Independence Day.

It is in bad taste that we celebrate death, violence and institutionalised racism. And that was what the celebration in Kuala Terengganu yesterday would have been had they not cancelled the event.

Had they asked that yesterday’s event be attended by not just Malays but by all races, and had the event been a solemn memorial with wreaths and prayers by those from all religions to remember the victims of May 13, then it would have been a positive event.

It would have been good if yesterday’s event had been declared a day of national healing. Malaysians of all races should have been invited to attend so that May 13 could be condemned and with one voice we shout, “Never again!”

But yesterday’s event was meant as a victory celebration. It was meant as a reminder to the non-Malays to not push the Malays too far or else suffer a repeat of May 13.

Would the world stand by and do nothing if Germany were to hold a celebration to remember the Holocaust with a warning to the Jews to not test the patience of non-Jews lest they want to see a Holocaust 2?

And that was exactly what yesterday’s aborted event was all about.

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May 13 rally: Perkasa boss slams ‘racist’ Soi Lek Another way of remembering May 13

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