Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I remember May 13th 1969

I still remember the May 13th incident, the racial riot in 1969. It has been 40 years now. It was the year my brother was born, and he was still a baby that need milk feeding. The curfew imposed caused much difficulty for the baby boy. I personally saw with my own eyes the soldiers matched in the street; the shooting of the army aiming at the rioters, and the stone throwing of the rioters. I saw the attacking by the angry mock on the innocent people. I also saw a touching scene of how the Chinese neighborhood saved a lone Malay cyclist from injury.This was May 13th 1969.

I was only 15 years old secondary school student, just begin to understand politic; listening the whole night for the election results from radio(TV is not common). The Dr Lim Chong Ewe's party won the election handsomely. It was a good news for us, as he is a good doctor from our neighborhood. His father and him had been a doctor serving our neighbourhood at Sia-bui Su Beng Clinic at the same street with our house. We were happy for him. As a young man, and just got a touch of election process, democracy is a sweet and exiting term for me. Looking for a bright future and hope for the nation. It was a peaceful election, with some emotional campaign by both side of the parties. At those days, the politician were good orators, better than today, they were professionals, many were lawyers and doctors. This was in Penang, 1969. Every common folk were happy.

Initially there were victory parade for the political supporters ; or was it a demonstration, I cannot remember.

In the following day, some cyclists passing through the street was attacked by the rioters, it must be after hearing the news from Kuala Lumpur on the start of racial riots.

There was one incident , a Malay cyclist was cycling in the street , seems to be not aware of what had happen earlier. The Chinese neighborhood were shouting to him,not to continue and go back. He quickly turned back, and I prayed that he is saved. The incident reminded me the closeness of the neighborhood in the community.

Something happen in KL, and there were curfew; time were allowed for us to buy our daily needs. People normally go to sia-bui wholesale market to buy vegetables or dried foods. We are worried about the condensed milk and milk powder. There was no income from father; we are really desperate for food. My neighborhood is highly urban area, if you have no money there will be no food for the family(unlike the villagers). I did not know how dad handled the food problem.

The windows of our double storey pre-war shophouse need to be closed; otherwise the soldiers will pointed their gun toward the window and shout in warning tone to close the window. May be they are worried that the resident will throw stones on them. They said the early patrol was Malay Regiment; but later Federal Regiment from Sarawak with more mixed races was patrolling. That was what the adult said. My uncle was from the Federal Regiment, he was on duty in Kuala Lumpur at that time.

After the curfew was over, we returned to school. My school was a racially mixed English school, we never talk about it, we just talk about our life when not in school. We missed the school. We missed our friends. I am a scout, where the movement taught us not to be racist, we have friends of different races, we go hiking and camping together; we eat together. We do not understand what the ugly politician were playing , a game that will affect our future.

Emergency was declared, and government formed. MCA(Malaysian Chinese Association refused to be in the government). That was the great mistake, and the government was able to pass policies which was racial based. After that some opposition parties joined the ruling party to form coalition political front.

Peace then returned....New Economic Policy followed....and the rest was history. The country is never the same as when Tunku Abdul Rahman gained Independence.

Some said it was a political revolt against Tunku by the youth from the same political party; it was started by them. Some said otherwise....anyhow it was forgotten, whoever start the riots,it must be for political reason. The ordinary people just want peace and to carry on their daily life. Nobody know until now, but God know... and there were some evidences and voices slowly revealed the hidden motive behind it. My uncle also revealed that some ugly incidents did happen in Kuala Lumpur. But my father in law told me it was peaceful in PAS controlled Kelantan.The incident was a taboo to most Malaysian, many don't want to talk about the ugly incident. There was pain in our heart..... we lost our democracy to the ugly politician.

Democracy is demon go crazy when emotion turned wild. I learn the lesson, when politician played their emotional games, innocent people suffered. We cannot followed the momentum of the politician, when they are fanning the fire, we should use our wisdom and poured cold water to cool the fire. Common sense must prevail and not fall into the traps of the politician. Otherwise we will suffer as victim of their hidden agenda.

Time passed it is now 40 years after the incident; the young have forgotten the sad history of the country. Some politician even threaten to use the incident to provoke support for their popularity in the party election or as champion in the state assembly or Parliament. This provide evidence that there is still followers on racial issues. This is extremely dangerous.

This is May 13th 1969; a painful lesson for Malaysia,and their people. We prayed that it will be history of the past and it will not happen again. The young Malaysian must learn from the history and value the racial harmony more than politic. We should not allow the politician who stand on that platform ,throw them out.....

For young Malaysian who wanted to know the balanced view of the history,please visit the following web sites:

1. on the article" May 13th Incident"
2. on the article dated 11-5-2008, with the title "May 13, 1969: Truth and reconciliation" by MARTIN VENGADESAN

1 comment:

  1. 513我也有点印象。。那时我住在霹雳和丰sungai siput utara。。我记得门口很多士兵在站岗。。那时真的不知道发生什么事..