Today marks the 39th anniversary of the 13th May, 1969 racial riots that took place in our nation when inflamed racists ran riot in the streets of KL brought about by incitement and stoking of enraged passions burning in the hearts and minds of Malays and the Chinese population in the capital city and several other major cities of our country.
"According to police figures, 196 people died and 149 persons were wounded. 753 cases of arson were logged and 211 vehicles were destroyed or severely damaged.
An estimated 6,000 Kuala Lumpur residents @ 90% of them Chinese were made homeless. Various other casualty figures have been given, with one thesis from a UC Berkeley academic, as well as the Time magazine putting the total dead at ten times the official government figure. Many people in Kuala Lumpur were caught in the racial violence.
Dozens were injured and some killed, houses and cars were burnt and wrecked. The violence was largely limited to Kuala Lumpur although there were isolated outbreaks in Malacca , Perak , Penang and Singapore , where the populations of Chinese people were larger.
The government ordered an immediate curfew throughout the state of Selangor.
Security forces comprising some 2000 Malay Regiment soldiers and 3600 police officers were deployed and took control of the situation.
Over 300 Chinese families were moved to refugee centres at the Merdeka Stadium and Tiong Nam Settlement ."
The excerpt above was taken from the Wikipedia report on the unfortunate incident.
Time magazine reports that 2000 over people died in the incident.
An excerpt from the article by Time:
For all its practical success, Malaysia never really managed to overcome racial enmities.
The Chinese and Indians resented Malay-backed plans favoring the majority, including one to make Malay the official school and government language.
The poorer, more rural Malays became jealous of Chinese and Indian prosperity.
Perhaps the Alliance's greatest failing was that it served to benefit primarily those at the top.
It was not unheard of for a government official to discover a new car in his garage, its donor a mystery until a Chinese towkay (rich merchant) mentioned it offhandedly—and then perhaps asked for a favor.
For a Chinese or Indian who was not well-off, or for a Malay who was not well-connected, there was little largesse in the system.
Even for those who were favored, hard feelings persisted. One towkay recently told a Malay official: "If it weren't for the Chinese, you Malays would be sitting on the floor without tables and chairs."
Replied the official: "If I knew I could get every damned Chinaman out of the country, I would willingly go back to sitting on the floor."
Today, I reflect back to that unfortunate day which is a tragedy that each and every Malaysian regardless of his or her creed and skin color must remember that if we allow the racists and fanatics amongst us to gain the upperhand, tragedy will strike again IF we just keep on minding our own business and pretend that everything is A okay?
We need to watch out for the instigators amongst us and nip any attempts to sow hatred and anarchy amongst the people promptly and do not fear what is only natural? Death!
Better to die as a warrior than to live and cower as eunuchs all our life's.
Peace and tranquility can be attained only by those who are strong enough to safeguard it.
I was 11 years old when I saw soldiers in green fatigues enter my village in Jalan Kota Giam, East Jelutong, Penang on the 13th of May, 1969.
I lived in a wooden house that had a partition in the middle. Another family lived in the other side.
I remember being asked to stay indoors as the soldiers who carried rifles and stenguns, marched in to our kampong.
Can still recall hearing their metal shod boots clump, clump clump onto the gravel paths of our kampong road. No tar back then. Really effective way to terrorize small boys, I tell you? :D
Every now and then we would hear one of the soldiers shout out warnings to us villagers to stay in our homes and warned that anyone who ventured out would be shot!!!
As a small kid, I was quite terrified to hear that! Now, at this age, I have sort of got used to all the horrors of life and have sort of gotten used to seeing gore and massacre. It has kind of seasoned this soul.
All the disasters, tragedies, murders, accidents and all kinds of gruesome scenes that I see take place on tv, the internet and even in real life must have deadened my sensitivities, I suppose?
Don't scare that easily at this age. I must be really getting bloody old to say that? Hahahaha.
Going to be half a century old to be exact! :P No wonder? Hehehehehe...life goes on, eh?
Picture above shows me sitting at the very end of my village. This is the 'Kota' that used to be where I and my friends used to hang out.
Arwah Che Mat Sabor, Nordin his brother, Wan Ali @ my best friend also known as 'Ali Kak Pah', Abu, Ali Fatah @ Abu's brother, Samsudin @ whose brother Man 'Lembu' is now a very senior police officer, and many others.
The sea used to come right up to the embankment. When I visited my kampong last year, I saw things being changed that they had reclaimed the area from the sea and even tarred up the reclaimed area turning it into a parking lot.
In the background is the Chinese village of Jalan Tokong Batu, East Jelutong, Penang.
'Cheor Tau Kong' if I am not mistaken is the name of the temple that is there in the Chinese village of Tokong Batu.
I still remember a case where a Chinese mata mata @ policeman shot himself in the head with his service revolver and lay dying as we villagers all gathered around to look at him, still alive but bleeding profusely from the head wound.
Things like that one doesn't forget right to the last breath of our life's.
He died eventually and an ambulance arrived to take his corpse away. Phew!!! What a terrible way to go?
Back to my recollections.
The 'gaharu makers' @ Chinese Incense stick makers used to dry their incense sticks along the area.
They used to make those giant incense sticks with dragons and all that there.
When we went hunting for seaworms to be used as bait for our fishing trips, we used to go get some sawdust from the incense stick makers who would let us take what we need for free.
My village was the last Malay village bordering the Jalan Tokong Batu, a Chinese fishing village through which I and my friends would walk towards our favorite fishing spots at the Jalan Jeti near the Shell jetty along the East Jelutong foreshore and along the sewage outfall jetty that led out to the sea.
All those years, the Malays and Chinese of Jelutong had lived in relative peace and tolerated one another without any problems.
The unfortunate racial riots that erupted in Kuala Lumpur had a spillover effect throughout the nation and neighbours started to be wary of one another just because of some hotheads who lost their cool in the capital city.
Today, I am nearing 50 years of age come the 3rd of October and I can only say that I just hope and pray that there will never again be a tragedy such as the one that took place on this date 39 years ago?
May Malaysians remember that this here is our home and we need to take care of each other for Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala commands us to not be amongst those who cause mischief and harm towards another.
This is our home. This is our motherland. These are our fellow citizens. Stop living in the world of those who are blinkered in hatred and enmity.
Break free from the barrier of racism and learn to live and let live in peace and harmony.
We can do it IF we set our hearts and minds to it. Look at the way people suffer in other countries where racism has destroyed so many innocent lives?
We are enjoined to live in peace with one another and to be the best that we can be towards our loved ones and our neighbours.
He or she who is good to his or her neighbour are promised salvation and a good future in the hereafter whilst those who go about spewing hatred and ill will shall taste the Hellfires.
May Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala bless their souls for having been caught in the web of hatred and deceit that only unthinking persons can unleash as a result of their vain bloated destructive egos!
Belajar Cari Makan! Jangan Cari Gaduh!
No more threats to unleash another May 13, please!
Wake up to our duties as Muslims to learn and promote Islam, the religion that advocates peace and harmony between mankind regardless of skin color or status?
On this 39th anniversary where 196 Malaysians (official records) lost their life's , I invite you to join me in offering a prayer to all those victims of race based enmity and strife that will never be forgotten in the annals of our nation's history.