Yuen Yuet Leng is wrong – as the 1969 general election result was a greater blow to the MCP although it was a set back for the Alliance

In a news report headlined “’Communists helped opposition win seats’ in 1969”, former Special Branch deputy director Tan Sri Yuen Yet Leng was quoted as saying that “the communists had helped opposition parties, including the DAP, to win a substantial number of seats in the 1969 election”.

The Sun report states:

‘Communists helped opposition win seats’ 1969
Posted on 9 September 2013 – 09:38pm

Vathani Panirchellvum
[email protected]

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 9, 2013): A retired senior police officer today hinted that the communists had helped opposition parties, including the DAP, to win a substantial number of seats in the 1969 general election.

Former special branch deputy director Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Leng said the communists infiltrated the Opposition prior to the election, which led to them making inroads into areas held by the alliance government.

“The communist had infiltrated many legal organisations, including political parties, and that is what led to the Opposition winning (in the 1969 general election),” he said at Telekom Malaysia’s “Cerita Tanah Airku” (Story of my Homeland) event in conjunction with Malaysia Day.

The Opposition in 1969 comprised the DAP, the People’s Progressive Party, Gerakan and PAS.

However, he said that the Opposition electoral victories did not lead to the race riots on May 13 that year.

He said the riots were caused by provocation by some Chinese celebrating the election victory in an inappropriate manner which was countered with “over-reaction” by the Malays.

“Some Chinese hooligans were shouting extreme racial slurs and this made the Malays very angry. The initial 48 hours were hard to contain, and at the end of the incident, more than 200 people were killed and 43 shot by the police,” he said.

“It took the efforts of all three major races to put an end to the riots. I have only one message to the younger generation … stop racism. We did not save the country for it to be lost to racism.”

He said the blowing up of racial issues will only lead to the destruction of the country.

Yuen’s claim that the communists helped the opposition to win seats in the 1969 general election is news to me, running counter to what actually happened in the run-up to the 1969 general election and studies whether books or articles by scholars of the 1969 general election.

I do not deny that the communists, like the Special Branch, had tried to infiltrate the Opposition, and DAP had done its utmost to ensure that we were not infiltrated either by the communists or the Special Branch.

Yuen, however, is way off the mark when he said that the communists helped the Opposition to make inroads into areas held by the Alliance government in the 1969 general election.

The facts were the exact opposite, as the communists were calling for a boycott of the 1969 general election and the Opposition parties which participated in the 1969 general election were condemned by the communists as “stooges” and “puppets” of the Alliance for going against their call to the people to reject the ballot box and democratic process and to take to street protests and extra-constitutional struggle.

Far from aiding Opposition parties, the communists wanted the people to boycott the 1969 general elections and the Opposition to fare badly.

This was the reason why 44 years ago, I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, on August 5, 1969 from the Muar Detention Centre where I was incarcerated under the Internal Security Act, expressing my anxieties for the future of Malaysia and urging the Tunku to embark on a course of national unity and reconciliation.

This is what I said in my letter:

The May 10 General Elections result was a defeat for the Alliance Party. But it was graver blow to the MCP.

During the general elections campaign, the MCP and its open auxiliaries campaigned for a boycott of elections to discredit parliamentary democracy and to prepare the political base for its second armed insurrection.

The people rejected the MCP line and came out solidly to vote. This proved that the people had faith in the democratic process to peacefully bring about the changes they want.

The result of May 10 was the people’s verdict for democracy, as against the MCP campaign. There was joy and expectancy, after the results, not to deprive anyone of his rights, but at the new hope to work for a more just, equal and fulfilling society.

The May 13 disturbances and the subsequent events, however, had greatly undermined the people’s faith in democracy.

I believe that the situation, though grave, is not irretrievable, if the government can spearhead a national, all-part, all-races effort to restore communal confidence through the pursuit of genuine multiracial politics and policies.

I do not know what was the basis for the Special Branch arriving at its conclusion in 1969 that the communists had helped the opposition parties to win a substantial number of seats in the 1969 general election when the communists had been doing the very opposite in the run-up to the 1969 general election to campaign for a boycott of elections.

What are the “substantial number of seats” won by the DAP, Gerakan, PPP and PAS in the 1969 general election as a result of the “assistance” by the communists?

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 - 2:50 pm

    Actually what is the point of the article and Yuen’s comment at this moment in time? Seriously, talking about the communist and the oppostion in 1969 now? Are the communist and opposition working together today? The article suggest its something to do with racism but its UMNO/BN is the one doing the racism..So as the younger kids says WTF?

    These kinds of comments just screams that the old establishment like him are stucked thinking people don’t think differently than they did before. They think their old ways worked before and hence its must still work..

    nother example is Mahathir saying he has been called a racist, ultra and can’t or don’t remember Project IC and think the younger generation don’t read it as ‘you are proven a racist, ultra and if you can’t remember that means you are guilty of project IC definitely’…They are simply completely disconnected from realities

  2. #2 by Di Shi Jiu on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 - 8:26 pm

    Poor Yuen seems stuck in the 1960s.

    I don’t think he realises that nobody really cares too much about Communism nowadays – not even people in “Communist” Russia or “Communist” China.

    It is easy to see Yuen has had a life-long obsession with seeing Communism everywhere!!

    I wonder if he still checks for Commies under his bed :)

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 12 September 2013 - 12:01 am

    The police were always after the wrong guys, doing the wrong things and blaming everybody else for their misdeeds. Isn’t it obvious ?

  4. #4 by strong eoiTS Yuen Yuet Leng on Thursday, 12 September 2013 - 12:54 am

    From: yuen yuet leng [mailto:[email protected]]
    Sent: Tuesday, 10 September, 2013 4:26 PM
    To: [email protected]
    Subject: Your article

    Dear Vathani,

    While I appreciate your article in general summarised well what I wanted to be known to the nation on what were greater truths I have to make clarifications. Information I imparted are in deliberate interest of objective nation and so that nation gets the right tutoring message and feel strongly why May 13 incidents should not ever be
    allowed to happen again either because of too much insensitivities or too much sensitivities on any side. The major redeeming factor in 1969 was the courage of non-racial Malaysians who were still there to put to shame the worse of their respective communities who rampaged, hurt or killed. This best of Malaysians dared to risk their lives in saving or sheltering fellow Malaysians of another ethnic community.

    The 43 frenzied rioters or looters or organised counter forces were shot by both police and the army mainly after Tun Razak had authorised such action when imperitive during the first 48-72 hours of devilish racism and counter-action. Thus was the security situation effectively contained. A couple of days later an attempt was made to aggravate the situation in Kuala Lumpur by ultras to create similar incidents in Penang island and the mainland in the north. This was pre-empted by very good Special Branch intelligence.
    CPO Penang was directed to put on a very, very tight curfew enforced by the police and ranger army units Nothing could move not even UMNO .

    Many Malaysians think that the communist struggle which started with the 1st Emergency in 1948, ended in 1960. Only the armed struggle did. From 1961 the communists had commenced on the new phase of “open and legal struggle” which was the secret subversion or penetration of legal political and other organisations either from within or outside, known or unknown or both at the same time. Most notably affected and within were the Socialist Front and the Labour party. In fact after May 69 a number of these communist or pro-communist elements who had evaded arrests, fled across the Thai border to join the CPM, were trained militarily and came back as members of the new CPM Assault units , Some were killed in in 1971 in a combined police/SB/army in the Kulim area and in which I was involved. They were positively identified as committee members of political parties.

    Communist known or unknown support cannot be said to be the one and only reason which made the “victory” of Opposition parties.. It was however of supporting assistance. I do not agree that any single and particular political party, other than the more active Socialist Front and Labour Party should be identified in discriminating or partisan manner. It must however not be misconstrued also, as some tend to think, that the communists was behind or prompted the 1969 racial riots. They might prompt riots but not racial riots because they are essentially a non-racial party. If they could have it their way they would have preferred continuing success of their open and legal struggle.

    However, it was chauvinistic Chinese overjoy made worse and even more hurtful and “unbearable” by stupid Chinese and some Indian hooligans broke the camel’s back of Malay tolerance, and which had already been dented so sensitively earlier by the shocking loss of electoral seats and stoked communal survival anxieties in the future. Communal ultras could only made things even more worse by capitalising on already explosive emotions.

    A very sad Director of the Special Branch, Tan Sri Rahman Hashim came to my division located well away from Bukit Aman a couple of days after May 13. Very disheartened, he told us he had failed in his job and intended to tender his resignation. We told him we would all resign with him if he did. That would be disastrous for the nation. First of all we should get the intelligence to restore sanity, peace and order. Soon after we obtained the vital intelligence was received by our intelligence network in the north that some radical ultras were planning to escalate the security situation in Kuala Lumpur by starting another situation in Penang and the mainland. This was pre-empted by a very tight curfew in the areas for a number of days which was enforced forcefully by the police and army ranger units. I suggest that you get a copy of my book , “Nation Before Self” (MPH) which you saw yesterday. (Pages 157-181)

    Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Leng

  5. #5 by Noble House on Thursday, 12 September 2013 - 3:51 am

    Liken to someone who commented in this blog earlier that he had kept this unfortunate event buried in his chest for over forty years in an almost similar tone, my question is “What is your purpose by raising this sad episode at this point of time in history?”

    The younger generation may be taken in by some of the irresponsible claims here but not for those from the same generation as yours who were in the midst of what really took place before and after the incident.

    The Fraser Hill I know of was much cooler then than you think.

  6. #6 by strong eoiTS Yuen Yuet Leng on Thursday, 12 September 2013 - 2:19 pm

    This was in context of Tanda Putera as I felt better research would have not result in so much fuss over its production and showing. Subjective media interest crafter another story. I spoke for the nation I believed in and still do as I saw it first hand and professionally. All are privileged to not agree. The truth hurts all round. That is why history is hard not to be subjective

You must be logged in to post a comment.