Call on Cabinet tomorrow to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry on the May 13, 1969 racial riots not to punish the culprits but to allow the country to heal its worst racial wounds

Shuhaimi Baba should seriously consider my advice that although she prides herself as the original founder of horror films after directing a Pontianak film, she must not regard the May 13,1969 movie “Tanda Putra” as belonging to the genre of “ghost films” she had directed in the past, but must be conscious of a sense of responsibility to the nation especially to the present and future generation of Malaysians to protect and promote inter-racial goodwill, peace and harmony in the country.

Shuhaimi should therefore list out what are the fictional or unverified incidents on the May 13, 1969 riots in her “Tanda Putra” movie so as not to mislead and incite Malaysians resulting in worsening race relations in the country.

This is all the more imperative as Shuhaimi has admitted that the film is a fictional account of events surrounding the May 13, 1969 racial riots.

On Feb 21 this year, Malaysiakini carried a film review entitled “Tanda Putera a double-edged sword” by a “film enthusiast” who had the opportunity to watch the film at one of the previews held for different groups over the previous months, and it is clear from the film review that the film is studded with fictional or unverified incidents on the May 13, 1969 riots which could mislead and incite inter-racial mistrust, hatred and even conflict.

I refer to three incidents cited by the film review:

1. “Another scene shows a group of Chinese youth urinating on a flag pole bearing the Selangor flag, outside the residence of the then state menteri besar Harun Idris.”

2. “In another scene at a cinema, the screen suddenly blacks out, replaced with Mandarin words asking the Chinese to leave the venue, which they do.

“A man then shouts out, in Malay, why there were Chinese words on the screen and demands the movie be put back on. Then, suddenly, the remaining audience in the cinema is massacred.”

3. “Throughout the build-up of tensions and race riots, there is a mysterious Chinese man who observes the happenings. He is later revealed to be a communist leader – indicating that the communists may have had a hand in orchestrating the mayhem.”

I have questioned the historical veracity of the urination incident in the first instance.

Are the second and third “incidents” factual or are they pure figments of the imagination and totally fictional?

In my first speech in Parliament 42 years ago on February 23, 1971, I called for a Commission of Inquiry into the May 13, 1969 racial riots to find out their causes, assess the racial polarization in the country and to make recommendations to prevent a recurrence of the May 13, 1969 racial riots and arrest the racial polarization in the country.

Instead of spending public funds to allow a movie director the “creative licence” to concoct fictitious events purportedly provoking the May 13, 1969 riots, I call on the Cabinet tomorrow to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry on the May 13, 1969 racial riots.

The RCI on the May 13, 1969 riots should be tasked to ascertain the true events and causes of the May 13 riots, who were responsible for them, not so much to apportion blame or to punish the culprits as 44 years had elapsed since the occurrence of the national tragedy in 1969, but to ascertain the true causes and developments to present the historical truth to present and future generations and to heal the country’s worst racial wounds and remove the spectre of May 13 from being used at every general elections since 1969 to blackmail voters from freely exercising their constitutional right to vote or to justify the pursuit of divisive and unjust policies.

  1. #1 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 - 8:38 am


  2. #2 by lbn on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 - 8:42 am

    Don’t understand some people. Why bring up the ugly past and stoke further racial unrest? You don’t put fictitious scene which incites hatred. This is very seditious. Don’t know what good future holds for us to and where we’re heading. Very very sad indeed!!!

  3. #3 by undertaker888 on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 - 8:43 am

    This movie is all about washing the hand of one mamak from any liabilities for May 13 incident.

    But we know better. This movie is no better than Avatar fictionally. Probably someone should make a movie Hollywood style to counter this Tandas Putrid. Namewee???

  4. #4 by Sallang on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 - 9:56 am

    The movie should not be release for public viewing at all.
    The country is now at the crossroad of sedition,murder,religious intolerance and so much more.
    It is misleading, and may spread like wild fire, which cannot be contained.

  5. #5 by sotong on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 - 11:42 am

    Most people have moved on from this shameful and violent incident.

    To prevent misguided and dangerous criminals from using this incident for their narrow, divisive and damaging political agenda, the whole truth has to be told.

  6. #6 by tuahpekkong on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 - 7:41 pm

    I thought Tamrin Ghafar had already given a very convincing account of events leading to the May 13 racial riots in 1969 and the people responsible. Tamrin’s account was consistent also with what I had read elsewhere. The culprits are irresponsibly trying to shift the blame onto the Chinese, politically expedient indeed but at the expense of racial harmony.

  7. #7 by Di Shi Jiu on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 - 9:15 pm

    Mr Lim,

    This movie is discussing very sensitive issues in a rather cavalier manner.

    I am now sorely tempted to film and release an exact copy except that I will reverse all the roles – showing Malays urinating on a flag pole, etc.

    After all, my work will also be a fictional work and my only liability will be that of copyright infringement.

  8. #8 by Noble House on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 - 4:39 am

    Instead, we see a constant barrage of headline encouragements from UMNO and its own weapon of mass distortion like for instance:

    “Apa lagi cina mau.”

    Given the routine firing of these establishment headlines to provoke and raise the tensions in what is already a tense situation, and you have UMNO’s key propaganda function in a nutshell.

  9. #9 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 - 9:18 am

    //…The RCI on the May 13, 1969 riots should be tasked to ascertain the true events and causes of the May 13 riots..//

    Since when is the ascertainment of truth being honoured (except in lip service) in Bolehland of Endless Possibilities including creative license to lie?

  10. #10 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 - 9:26 am

    May 13,1969 is divisive episode in chapter of nation’s history. Why are people who extol the importance of patriotism (based on unity of citizenry) on national day interested in having “Tanda Putra” with its divisive effects released to public at the very time when the fostering of unity is important (even when the director has conceded that its portrayal is fictional) ? This shows the disjunction between talk motives and deeds. Again a part of Endless Possibilities!

  11. #11 by M. Vivekananda on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 - 4:24 pm

    Releasing the movie for public viewing is an extremely reckless and highly irresponsible action on the part of the government. The contents of the movie have been deliberately concocted to portray some people in bad light and instill hatred towards them in order to create animosity and racial disharmony among the various communities and further the political interests of some groups.

    The urinating incident is pure fiction, the product of a depraved and demented mind; the movie is fictitious and done in bad taste to create a schism in the Malaysian society. It is a common and widely held belief among the older generation who were residing in Kuala Lumpur then that a certain person who was a big wig was behind the incident. This was never categorically denied by any party. The government of the day never released a White Paper for reasons better known to them.

    The younger generation who were either too young at that time to know what happened or were not born then and those from the rural areas would readily believe what is shown in the film, be brainwashed and their minds poisoned; the long term repercussions of this towards the nation is very dangerous.

    Seems rather strange that the film was deemed unsuitable for public viewing pre-GE13 but post-GE13 the film is allowed for public viewing. This appears to be retaliation on the part of the government towards certain people having lost the popular vote in GE13 – a very base action by politicians with no principles.

    The opening sentence of an article in the Far Eastern Economic Review (which was banned then) stated: “Malaysia’s bold experiment with racial politics exploded in the streets of Kuala Lumpur on May 13, 1969 ………………………………………”.

    Better sense should prevail; if we value peace, harmony and long term stability in the nation, this film should not be released for public viewing. The decision lies with the authorities and they should be prepared to face the consequences.

    There is a saying: you reap what you sow.

  12. #12 by M. Vivekananda on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 - 7:05 pm

    Rather strange, isn’t it. The photograph on the front page of today’s (28 August 2013) shows TDM, PM Najib and South African President Jacob Zuma during the award ceremony for Peace and Freedom to Nelson Mandela.

    The backdrop has the words “………… the time for healing of the wound ……………”. But Tanda Putera, the concocted and fictional movie on the infamous May 13, 1969 riots depicting the dark period of the nation’s history is being released for public viewing nationwide tomorrow (29 August 2013), two days before the 56th Merdeka Day celebrations, a day for national reconciliation.

    Sad to say, but we can only conclude that we are being led by a bunch of hypocrites as the leaders of this nation.

  13. #13 by M. Vivekananda on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 - 7:09 pm

    Correction: The earlier posting should read as ….today’s (28 August 2013) New Straits Times ……
    Regret for the typographiclal oversight.

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