Monday, 25th October 2010
The British colonialists must also be held responsible for Malaysia’s race-based politics. In their attempts to protect British strategic and economic interests, they favoured Malaya’s capitalist elite who preferred the race based approach to politics against the more universal class based political parties which were seen as direct threats to British interests.
What actually happened?
This maybe considered biased as:
(i) it does not discuss the role that UMNO played in raising racial tensions, not only in Malaya but also in Singapore – who had experienced race riots earlier in 1964 (read here);
(ii) The fact that the Chinese majority opposition parties were involved in masterminding May 13 has not been proven. The white paper itself does not provide substantive evidence. Furthermore, the fact that the government used The Internal Securities Act (ISA) – which does not require bringing the accused to a court of law – against opposition leaders substantiates allegations that UMNO either masterminded May 13 or was taking advantage of it by deposing opposition leaders who at the 1969 general election had a real chance of forming government.
Dr. Kua Kia Soong’s, “Declassified Documents on the Malaysian riots of 1969” provides the other general view, which argues that UMNO played a key role in May 13 . This has of course has been challenged by many in UMNO. A general rebuttal (in a non-academic way) is represented by a blogger called Jebat Must Die.
The truth may lie somewhere in between. Several eminent public intellectuals such as historian Emeritus Prof. Khoo Kay Kim attributes it to the prevailing conditions in Malaysia at that time.
However, one thing became very clear after May 13. Any attempt to challenge UMNO would be met with the strongest response – legitimately or legitimately. May 13 established the concept of Malay supremacy through the blood of hundreds if not thousands of Malaysians, especially of Chinese heritage. This led to most non – Malays having no options but to accept UMNO hegemony (Ketuanan Melayu/Malay Supremacy) or leave Malaysia. Many choose to migrate – a trend which has continued as a result of systematic discrimination against the non – Malays.
The Democratic Action Party (DAP) who choose not to join the newly expanded Alliance - now called Barisan Nasional – and became the largest opposition, became the natural target of UMNO and blame was placed on them systematically as the cause of May 13, 1969. UMNO has since maintained 2/3 majority in Parliament – effectively changing the Constitution and system of government to suit its need.
UMNO/Malay supremacy continues but now it is now challenged more by political parties dominated by Malays themselves, first by PAS (read here), then by Tengku Razaleigh and Semangat 46 in 1988 but most potently through Anwar Ibrahim after Reformasi in 1999 through PKR.
It is now 42 years since May 13 but it is never far from the minds of Malaysians as UMNO raises it time and again (read here ) to remind Malaysians that only UMNO can guarantee stability.
Most Malaysians want to understand what actually happened, to discuss it in a civilised manner and to come to intelligent solutions that will remove the root causes that created the environment for this terrible incident.
Will UMNO allow this?
This article first appeared in GreggWordpress
AGI IDUP AGI NGELABAN