Viewpoint: May 13 also showed Malaysians at their best

September 17, 2013 at 6:08 am Leave a comment

'Tanda Putera' is a pretty mediocre to bad attempt at portraying the period surrounding the racial riots of May 13th 1969.
‘Tanda Putera’ is a pretty mediocre to bad attempt at portraying the period surrounding the racial riots of May 13th 1969.
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WE have just celebrated our 56th Hari Merdeka. And yesterday, we celebrated 50 years of the of Malaysia.
  • However, we are not free yet. We are not free from the baggage of racial mistrust, religious dogmatism and intellectual corruption.We sell our souls for position as we attempt to sell our country’s future for instant gratification. We have been and continue to be smothered by what seems constant scandals and racial, political and religious grandstanding.

    The latest issue being the new movie funded by the government called ‘Tanda Putra’. A pretty mediocre to bad attempt at portraying the period surrounding the racial riots of May 13th 1969. Tun Dr. Ismail would not have been pleased.

    For he was a giant among men of that era. He prized integrity above all. He stood for all Malaysians, not some. And I am certain that he would have been offended by the directors use of ‘poetic license’ (and the fact she used over RM4m of public funds). Tun Dr. Ismail, Tun Razak, and of course the Father of our nation Tunku Abdul Rahman deserves much better than a party political broadcast.

    These individuals do not belong to any single party. They belong to all of us. They belong to Malaysia. And I hope one day soon, a director with more integrity and (from the looks of it) ability will bring their story, our story, into light.

    But today is a good day to look back at May 13 1969. My father was very close to Tun Dr. ismail and Tun Razak – and I have heard from him many many stories of that period. And here is the thing, far from being the day that showed the worst of Malaysia, I believe the opposite to be true.

    There were villains everywhere. Malays, Chinese, and Indians. No single race has a monopoly on evil. The riots were political. Instigated and propelled by a few. And all parties had a hand in it, and all parties took advantage of it. A few hundred people went crazy, and so many innocent people lost their lives — but thousands of Malaysians protected each other.

    Malays took in Chinese families into their homes, Chinese families took in Malays. Indian bosses would swap with their Malay drivers as they drove down certain areas of KL. That is what I now see when I think of May 13th 1969.

    Not the evil of the few, but the Malaysian spirit that existed in the tens of thousands of this great country, that drove them to protect and care for each other.

    That spirit is still alive, perhaps a little battered, but very much alive. And we have to nurse it back to health. We, the Malaysian people are the only ones that can. We must protect the Malaysian soul from all enemies foreign and domestic.

    And when we all can truly stand up for each other, defend each others beliefs even if they differ from our own, defend each others rights, and finally create that singularly plural Malaysian identity – then we will truly be free.

    So for now, there is work to be done. I love my country, I love its people, i love its smell, its food, its weather. There is no country like it on earth. Selamat Hari Malaysia my friends. I am Malay, I am Chinese, I am Indian, I am Kadazan, I am Melanau. WE ARE MALAYSIA.

    Datuk Vinod Sekhar is the son of the late Tan Sri B.C. Sekhar, regarded as the father of the Malaysian rubber industry. This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not represent the view of fz.com.

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