May 13 tragedy, we should move on


By Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad

1.While we remember the 40th anniversary of the May 13 tragedy, we should move on. It’s time for closure of the sad, very sad incident.

2.The tragic and vicious incident need not have happened had Tun Razak’s message to Dato’ Harun Idris, the menteri besar of Selangor, reached him 30-minutes earlier or had Tan Sri David Tan Chee Khoon and Tun Lim Chong Eu spoken to Tun Razak 30 minutes earlier relaying their decision not to cooperate with DAP to form the state government of Selangor nor worked together in Perak and elsewhere. I was beside Tun Razak when he took the calls from them late past tea time on the fateful evening of 13 May. I recall clearly what Tun Razak told Harun “…the good news is you will continue to run Selangor. Chee Khoon and Chong Eu had just spoken to me that they want status quo preserved. So tell the people gathering at your house to disperse.” Harun thanked Tun and asked him to convey his gratitude to the two statesmen. Between five-to-ten minutes after that Harun rang Tun Razak to say that it was too late. As he was persuading them to disperse news reached the crowd that clashes had begun in Chow Kit Road and surroundings and beyond.

3.Tun Razak asked Harun to calm the gathering and urged him, in strong terms, to attempt his best to stop the clashes from escalating. The rest, as they say, is history. Though Harun and I were not on good political terms I must be fair. I think he did try, but by then, to no avail.

4.I left for home about maghrib. Informed Musa Hitam what happened and he asked his family to rush to my house. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Musa and his family spent the night at my house in Jalan Bukit Bintang, a very Chinese area, and there was no trouble. I assured my Chinese neighbours and they, in turn, assured me we would together maintain peace and confront whoever the outside trouble makers would be. Thank God, the troubles were localized.

5.This is just speculation: Had communications then were as good and advanced as today, I think two things could have occurred: race riots would not have started or they could have become more brutal and widespread.

6.When the Pakatan Rakyat coalition unseated the BN governments in Selangor, Perak, Penang and Kedah last March (08) there were no tensions, perhaps because every one was in a state of shock but plausibly, too, the incoming governments of PKR, DAP and PAS like the defeated ones, were also interracial. The PKR, DAP and PAS alliance should be preserved. The PKR is about the nearest thing to being a genuine multi-racial party. There shall not be another May 13 like-incident if the ruling party coalition and the Pakatan share power or perceived to be sharing power fairly and the government, whether Federal or State, observes the constitution scrupulously, government policy implemented justly without fear or favour where talent is not only recognized but rewarded irrespective of race or religion. The public as well as the private sector must display and reflect that of the society we live in, not what we want it to be. The Bumiputra must accept unequivocally the others are co-owners of this country as much as the others must also accept, recognise and acknowledge unequivocally the Bumiputra is the biggest demographic group and growing, therefore deserves some entitlements, though not at the expense of fairplay.

7.I am not a soothsayer nor a prophet of doom. I strive to tell what I perceive to be the truth. It does seem the future of democracy in our nation is bright. A genuine two-party system is at last evolving after five decades of Merdeka. If the Pakatan Rakyat state governments deliver what they promised and the alliance stay cohesive and the rakyat see the bond or linkage is sustained the alliance can be potentially potent. However, having said that, please make no mistake of misjudging Najib. He is no Badawi; different educational and social background. Najib is Tun Razak’s son, he is more familiar with the wiles of Malaysian voters; he is positively more Machiavellian, positively more able and aware than his predecessor who was badly advised by his family, cronies and toadies in government and the media.

8.If Najib performs well and the economy recovers he is a tough nut to crack. His 1Malaysia is good and if he is not distracted, and properly advised, you all will face a tough time. You must at least be well-prepared and ready. Najib may falter, which I think is not impossible, for he is not infallible. I am also very conscious how fallible I can be.

9.In politics, a week is a long time and logic doesn’t always work. Always work hard and one must always do what one feels is right. The correct and sensible thing to do is to ensure that all Malaysians are treated justly in the public as well as in the private sector. Our democracy can only flourish if we have a strong, free and independent media.

10.Our future is very bright if Najib can deliver what he promises and the Pakatan its pledges. We aren’t going to achieve what we desire. Worse if a nation is perceived to be untransparent, unjust and draconian. I repeat a strong, free and independent media is critical for the future of Malaysian democracy.

11.The future of 1Malaysia looks well if the PM can deliver what he promises and if the economy thrives. This can be done if we can reconcile the past which none should forget with the present we must face, and the future we cannot avoid.

12.Whatever, the electoral test will be in the next general election.

13.Thank you.

CONCLUDING REMARKS ON THE MAY 13 FORUM

I was with Dr Mahathir at his book’s launch. His Letters to World Leaders in Mandarin, so, I didn’t know what the other panelists said.

Najib has done well so far – challenging the rakyat’s mindsets, that we are getting more colour blind, that the society wants equality for all. Good. No sane person will quarrel with that: the question is can he deliver or do Malaysians believe he is a reformer? Indeed, what makes a reformer? Najib is a pragmatist, a realist, devoid of any ideology.

He faces many crucial challenges, realities and new pains especially in Perak. It seems change is imminent, some people seem unaware of this.

If any country is perceived to be unstable that would not be good for foreign investment or trade. In 2008, the ruling party polled just 51 percent of the popular votes. In the peninsula it was below 50 percent, I think, it was 49 percent – I stand corrected. The story next time, unless Najib could reverse the trend, isn’t likely to be very different than that of 2008; actually could even be worse.

The Pakatan will remain to be a force to be reckoned with, at least in 2012 or 2013 and in the future too.

All what Najib is trying to accomplish will be for naught if the country goes back to the days when political and social dissenters couldn’t speak freely and peaceful protests are squelched and media managed and muzzled. I do hope Najib means what he says: more political and media openness.

I think a real political battle which vaguely approximates the best tradition has just begun in earnest; a personal battle between Najib and Anwar, BN and Pakatan; DAP and MCA and Gerakan; the MIC, PPP and Hindraf; UMNO and PAS and the PKR bumiputra. The BN can no longer boast it can now be intensely relaxed as previously.

The outcome of which will decide the nature and feature of Malaysian nationhood.

In the last analysis, who wins or loses, will be decided by the voters’ perception of Najib and Anwar, their ideals and visions.

Thank you.

SPEECH BY TAN SRI ABDULLAH AHMAD AT THE “FROM MAY 13 TO 1MALAYSIA – THE FUTURE OF MALAYSIAN NATION BUILDING” – FORUM
8 PM WEDNESDAY MAY 13 AT THE CIVIC CENTRE MBPJ, PETALING JAYA

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  1. #1 by donplaypuks on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 12:33 pm

    YB

    Enough oreddy with this May 13 and May 7 nonsense!!

    We do not need to glorify sordid episodes in our History. And May 13th is an incident to be remembered similar to Remembrance Day for WW2 and not celebrated.

    Note too that May 13 was felt mainly in Selangor & KL, and only to a limited extent in Ipoh and Penang in 1969, while the rest of M’sia, including Sabah & Sarawak, slept through it!

    Victory in Perak against UMNO/BN/Najib will not be secured other than by standing toe to toe and slugging it out through careful thinking and exploitation of all the legal loopholes.

    E.g. Pakatan will have to get that illegal ruling that the Court can intefere in a decision made in the State Assembly to suspend the BN Aduns and those who crossed over., reversed. But it appears that in all the fracas of late, this crucial matter has not been appealed yet. Spend time and energy getting an early hearing. You have to keep UMNO hopping on its foot so that it does not have time to think about more sneaky strategies.

    There is little doubt the majority of Malaysians are in support of Pakatan, Nizar & Sivakumar as far as Perak is concerned. But there is only so much public opinion can do against the might of a severely undermined and biased Judiciary, Police, incumbent brutal Govt and dithering from HRH!

    So, spare us the rhetoric and get on your bus!!

    And get Karpal to use his brains constructively instead of shooting the Barisan Rakyat coalition in its own foot! This is a time to hold counsel wisely and zip up on speaking one’s mind freely in the
    interest of achieving common goals.

    http://donplaypuks.blogsp

  2. #2 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 1:01 pm

    This KL diarist is simply being too gracious to Najib. Look at all of Najib’s baggage – ooh! they would smply sink the Titanic!

    I disagree with Diarist’s assessments. He just doesn’t want to offend a sinking Captain, even one whose father was his boss before.

    At the same time, Diarist has not given enough credit and oomph to the tsunamic waves that PR has made and is going to make.

    Sorry, Diarist, you are way off.

  3. #3 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 1:03 pm

    Of course, Najib is Machiavellian. Don’t we know that already? The way the wheels are spinning, you can bet Najib will be setting newer and more draconian standards for all Machiavellis of the future. So watch out!

  4. #4 by k1980 on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 1:06 pm

    BREAKING NEWS: UMNO Will Call for By-Election in Perak (OR Is It Just Farting in the Wind?)

    —http://www.malaysiawaves.com/2009/05/breaking-news-umnos-giving-in-will-call.html

  5. #5 by dawsheng on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 1:08 pm

    I thought I was reading an UMNO’s blog.

  6. #6 by Joshua Tan Kok Hauw on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 1:09 pm

    Do not be too happy with some minor changes meted out by Najib-led BN government.

    Why are the changes? It is because BN is trying to win back the hearts of the people. BN is neither genuine and serious. Once they are given stronger mandate in the next general election BN will start amend the Federal Constitution as well as other laws to serve it’s own political purposes. In short, BN will return to its old self once they win back the two-thirds majority in the seat of Parliament.

    What is the best solution? GIVE PR THE MANDATE TO RULE MALAYSIA IN THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION.

  7. #7 by erico47 on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 1:14 pm

    I think some dose of philosophical thinking / re-thinking is required for all parties concerned. Just like we need philosopher-businessmen, we are in greater need of philosopher-politicians to change the Malaysian mind set. Check out on “Meeting & Becoming Philosopher-Businesspersons” for more thought-provoking approach available at http://sohotech3.blogspot.com

  8. #8 by All For The Road on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 1:26 pm

    Yes, the ghosts and horror of the tragic May 13 incident should be buried and put to rest once and for all for the betterment of all Malaysians. We should move on and look to the future with determined efforts, programmes and policies to forge a united, peaceful and prosperous nation.

    On the 1Malaysia project launched by PM Najib, can he deliver the promises and pledges 100% to all Malaysians irrespective of race and religion? The Perak political debacle will put to test his ‘People First’ battle-cry. Just agree to the dissolution of the Perak State Assembly paving the way for fresh state elections to allow Perakians decide who they want as the state government.

  9. #9 by Bobster on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 2:03 pm

    40 yrs anniversary is a time to forgive and move on.

    Question is have we learn anything as time and time again 513 being used to create fear and suppress the rakyat? Remember not too long ago when the problematic Negarakuku kid making scene in the country, what did UMNO leader by the name of Mohd Mohd Taib said in Kelana Jaya? Why time and time again 513 being used as a threat to suppress/oppress the people?

    While it is important for the rakyat to forgive each other and move on, we need to know the actual history and not those cheap publications distorted by some gomen control publication houses, edited to own wimps and fancy as what currently in the local text books.

    Questions:- Who instructed the army to random shooting? Who instructed other races including the fair minded Ibans in the army battalion to stay behind? etc etc. Seriously there were so many missing links as we patched together bit and pieces of history from various sources.

    Even in a murder case, it is right to find out who is the actual killer and what are the reasons, like the Mongolian case.

    We need to learn the right history so that the future generations would know what happened and why it happened in the darkest hour of the national history.

  10. #10 by dawsheng on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 2:07 pm

    After reading it for the second time, conclusion: What a load of crap!

  11. #11 by ekompute on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 2:10 pm

    How come my post is not showing. It doesn’t even say “waiting for moderation”.

  12. #12 by sotong on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 2:16 pm

    The present government is too complacent…..in the best interest of the country, it is time the Opposition take over.

    Najib will be remembered as a good PM if he is prepared to fight fair all the way to the next election.

  13. #13 by taiking on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 2:26 pm

    Wot is this? Too much credit given to najib! He has been a fence sitter all these years. Now as PM he has so many people to please. I would write him off. I hv written him off in fact. And the may 13 event has been neutralised and sterilised in his presentation. Facts must be presented as they were and remembered as being a sad part of our history. Now that it is known to all that may 13 was umno’s doing and was not a racial issue (as umno made it out to be for several decades) then there should be no fear of racial recentment attached to this very sad date. With this fact in the open the ghosts of may 13 will now haunt umno. The rest of us should have no fear and should have little difficulty in casting it aside and move forward.

    For a long long time umno has pegged the history of our country on this sad day. Since this date has been removed our history must be re-pegged to a different date. I agree with LKS that we should re-peg our history to 7 May 2009 – the day when umno ran amok in perak state assembly.

  14. #14 by Fair Play on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 2:57 pm

    “” 30 minutes earlier ” and the tragedy of May 13 would have been avoided – thanks for the inside story ! why wiat for Tan Chee Koon’s assurance to call off the riots? now looks like we are getting a bit nearer to the true story.

  15. #15 by Loh on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 2:59 pm

    ///2.The tragic and vicious incident need not have happened had Tun Razak’s message to Dato’ Harun Idris, the menteri besar of Selangor, reached him 30-minutes earlier or had Tan Sri David Tan Chee Khoon and Tun Lim Chong Eu spoken to Tun Razak 30 minutes earlier relaying their decision not to cooperate with DAP to form the state government of Selangor nor worked together in Perak and elsewhere. I was beside Tun Razak when he took the calls from them late past tea time on the fateful evening of 13 May. I recall clearly what Tun Razak told Harun “…the good news is you will continue to run Selangor. Chee Khoon and Chong Eu had just spoken to me that they want status quo preserved. So tell the people gathering at your house to disperse.” Harun thanked Tun and asked him to convey his gratitude to the two statesmen. Between five-to-ten minutes after that Harun rang Tun Razak to say that it was too late. As he was persuading them to disperse news reached the crowd that clashes had begun in Chow Kit Road and surroundings and beyond.///– Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad

    Razak is dead, Harun is dead and if the author can be believed, he is the only person in this world now who can tell what caused May 13, by indicating what could have stopped May 13.

    The phone call was half an hour late, from Razak to Harun. Harun was organizing something which needed not have been put in action had he received the call say one hour earlier. If Harun had not planned in what ended as May 13 riots, nothing would have happened even if the phone call did not come through. Tan Chee Khoon and Lim Chong Eu were then the Gerakan leaders, and they were totally entitled to decide what they wanted to do according to election results. They were not expected to forgo cooperation with DAP in Selangor, Perak or elsewhere. So the telephone could have prevented the incident, and that belated phone call was not the reason.What was most telling was the statement from Razak to Harun “tell the people gathering in your house to disperse”. Razak knew of the people gathering at Harun’s house. Why did Razak not tell Harun to get the people dispersed even without being told by Gerakan leaders of their decision. Surely Razak should have advised Harun to respect election results.

    So Harun got the news too late to stop May 13. It proves that may 13 was a result of detailed planning linked to the election results of the state assembly in Selangor. How is it reasonable to claim that to prevent May 13, NEP had to be implemented?

    Leaders in UMNO born after May 13 should read the letter by Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad.

    There were others who blamed the demonstration by Gerakan and DAP as the cause of May 13. Granted that DAP and Gerakan did contribute to May 13, the cause is then a question of behaviour of party members after the election results had been announced. It was certainly not caused by the so-called economic disparity between races which had necessitated NEP. NEP is worse than SARS or swine flu.

    ///The Bumiputra must accept unequivocally the others are co-owners of this country as much as the others must also accept, recognise and acknowledge unequivocally the Bumiputra is the biggest demographic group and growing, therefore deserves some entitlements, though not at the expense of fairplay.///– Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad

    I am certain that the above ideas that bumiputras deserving some entitlement with fairplay did not come about before May 13, or NEP. When the author was candid in telling what happened on May 13 and yet harbours the thought that the people in Malaysia ought to be divided by race, the negative influence by TDM, the champion of race politics, proves to be deep rooted. When would people accept equality, and that one reaps what he sows, and that help should be given to the needy irrespective of race or religion if such assistance should be limited to Malaysians. People might not agree with Lee Kuan Yew, but his Malaysian Malaysia concept if not torpedoed by Syed Albar Jaafar, we would now be the second most developed society in Asia, after Japan.

  16. #16 by sheriff singh on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 3:11 pm

    I think there should be a full investigation into the May 13 incident. Too many things have been buried. The real story must be told. There must be accountability and justice.

    Only then can there be final closure.

    Just as in the case of the last living survivor and the many decendents of the infamous massacre at Batang Kali in 1948 when innocent villagers were alledgedly brutally murdered by the British soldiers. They seek accountability, justice and compensation. They seek closure. Let us not forget them too.

  17. #17 by Bobster on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 4:16 pm

    For the sake of justice, people need to know the truth as the truth will set us free!

    No more resentment or condemnation if truth is allowed to be reviewed to the public as people is matured in this country after 52 yrs independence.

    Truth will set us free so that we can live again like never before 1969, where people were colour blind, Malays in their kebayas, Chinese in their cheong sams and Indians in saris mingled together one as what told by many older generations. Hey, we seriously miss the days in P. Ramlee movies and LAT’s cartoons. Why the current society going backward rather than forward?! P. Ramlee is more modern thinking and open minded compare to our current society!

    Things change since 1969 till todate race relation has never recovered. In order to heal and move on people needs to know the truth, nothing but the truth.

    Why Razak phone call so important to stop the bloodshed and not TAR phone call who is supposed to be the PM of the country?

    If the situation was so tense Razak in the first place should have stop the crowd with arms gathered at Harun’s place. If people gather why must they gathered with parang, sticks and guns? Why nobody including the PM, DPM or Defense Minister stopped the random killing by the armed force?

    Similar as what Sheriff said about Batang Kali massacre, even airplane crash or ferry accident, every rakyat has the right to know the truth, nothing but the truth.

    Society can move on but history will continue to haunt us as injustice and crime committed was never discovered so that the innocence souls can RIP.

  18. #18 by Loh on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 6:04 pm

    Even though May 13 riots could not be stopped in time, it could have been treated as if an earthquake had struck. There was no need to capitalise on a tragedy to ensure that a party remain in power for all this while. What was more unforgivable was the sin in converting the tragedy of ‘late communication’ into a proof of ethic antagonism initiated by TDM who accused Tunku for not ‘doing enough’ for Malays. TDM wrote the “Malay dilemma’ and even as late as this year claimed that non-Malays were not entitled to equal treatment because they did not want to be assimilated as Malays. The policies of divide and rule by TDM shows that he had evil intention all these years.

    The UMNO leaders now did not experience May 13 and others were not born yet. Had they taken May 13 as a tragedy like volcano eruption, then they would wish that the tragedy would not repeat. But the Keris waver, the person who claimed to want to bath keris in Chinese blood knew that May 13 was a planned incident, though too late to be stopped. But since their fathers have shown them how to capitalise on the situation through NEP, they want it an implement to ensure that they stay in power, at all costs to the country.

    May 13 only shows that UMNO leaders harboured evil thoughts. They did not accept election results in the first place. Having failed to prevent bloodbath, they took it as an added qualification for controlling the government and for ensuring vote banks to give the impression that the practice parliamentary democracy. The Perak debacle is yet another proof that UMNO does not accept election result if they have a way around it. The son is repeating the action of the father who must have given the permission for people to gather in MB Harun’s residence on May 13 exactly 40 years ago.

  19. #19 by TomThumb on Friday, 15 May 2009 - 11:35 pm

    may 13 is the thirteenth day of the new moon

  20. #20 by kerishamuddinitis on Saturday, 16 May 2009 - 11:41 am

    Yes, we should forgive and move on. But to do so, there must be closure. For closure to happen, the truth MUST be made plain for all to read. Then there MUST be a COMMITMENT, A PLEDGE, PROMISE that there will NEVER be another May 13 ever again in this country of ours – Malays, Chinese, Indians and all the native races sharing one common destiny into the next 50years.

    To FORGIVE, there must be CLOSURE. For CLOSURE, the must be TRUTH. Then FORGIVENESS must result in/generate/lead to AFFIRMATIVE ACTION to reject such violence forever and ever!

    What is the TRUTH then? Sort that one out and the rest will follow.

    Based on the article above and comments in response, it appears that the whole thing was carefully planned. If that was the case, then it was in effect MASS MURDER planned and carried out by one group against another!

    If this is indeed the case, then the party that planned this MUST accept responsibility! Only then TRUTH will have been established.

    For as long as it remains shrouded in mystery and doubt, there will be speculations and suspicions.

    Here’s one:
    On that fateful day, the military sent jeeps with soldiers armed with M16 and stationed them at schools. At 6.00pm. The fires started at about 8pm. That means there was at least 1 1/2 hrs for the military/PFF/Police to swiftly take control and impose order. Now, it seems all this was known ‘…late past tea-time…’

    So, ‘late past tea-time’ is say 5pm or so.
    The military was out at the schools at 6pm.
    Therefore, there was 1 hour window for the government of the day to either call in the troops to prevent such tragedy OR allow an limited scale, carefully monitored punitive action meant to cull enough of the opposition to make an example of ‘…what happens when you mess with the political order of the day…’

    Fast-forward 40 years, the RAKYAT simply want the TRUTH —> CLOSURE —-> a COMMITMENT by all political parties to never ever allow another May13 to happen.

    So, far only Pakatan Rakyat have stated so.

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