May 27, 2006
Tunku Abdul Rahman
Amidst my hectic supposed off-day yesterday, I strolled into a bookshop selling mainly academic texts, which happened to sell second-hand historical books as well.
I picked up a treasure which I am pretty sure is no longer in publication today. Written by our Father of Independence (Bapa Kemerdekaan), Tunku Abdul Rahman, it recollects the personal memories and records of events leading up to and thereafter, of 13th May 1969.
It reveals a whole lot of historical fact, step by step, to those who did not experience this infamous incident. To understand race relations and the reason why policies are what they are today, it is essential to backtrack into the timeline of Malaysia's history. Only then will we have a complete and comprehensive picture.
The descriptions were brutal, the pictures gruesome. I am not surprised it no longer sells in bookstores, although if people were mature enough they would be able to decipher these as the past, and not bring them into the present again. The basic assumption of course, is that the public is generally unable to determine for themselves what is relevant and what is not.
A dark, dark year it must have been for all alike. I do not wish to ever see or experience the likes of that fateful day. I feel even more urgently the need to ensure that steps are taken to inculcate goodwill between the various groups…
The scary and daunting thought is that the events leading up to that incident are not so alien and far away as we would want them to be, today. Back then, way before the incident itself, the people were unsatisfied with the way certain component parties of the then-"Alliance"- responded to current issues. The MCA (Malayan Chinese Association) and MIC (Malayan Indian Congress) were perceived to be incompetent in handling issues. In response, the then oppositionist Gerakan party and DAP (Democratic Action Party) played up the issue of race relations, thereby defeating the Alliance in many constituencies. In my opinion, these oppositionists were too extreme in their party campaigning. People have to be careful in the issues they select. Taking things into the extreme, name-calling, is all done in bad taste.
What we saw in the recent Sarawak elections was an exact repeat of the incident so many years ago. The people being unsatisfied and thereby turning to alternative groups. The pressure is now mounting on the component parties of the current alliance government. I hope they rise to the call, to respond to what the people are asking for.
Nobody wants another incident of '69.
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