Archive for the ‘May 13’ Category

Lim Kit Siang nabbed at the airport

June 28, 2007

LKS Series # 3


Dear Sir

 Re: Hello Lim Kit Siang. (28  years old). On 13th May 1969, where art thou? 

The 1969  May 13th   racial riots started from the house of  the then Menteri Besar, Dato Harun Idris. The house was in Princes Road ( Jalan Raja Muda). Half a kilometre away, at Fook Chuen Mansions, Batu Road ( Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman ) was the office of the then Secretary General of the Democratic Action Party, Mr Goh Hock Guan.*. He was and still is a Chartered Architect and Town Planner practising under the name of M/s Goh Hock Guan and Associates.


Prior to 13th May  1969, LKS  was a political  Liliputian. He was the DAP National  Organising Secretary and the Editor of The Rocket** then.  His first  political debut projected to the Malaysian public was his  participation in the “ Great Cultural Debate” between the DAP and the Gerakan which took place before the General Elections of 1969. At that point in time Gerakan was in the Opposition. After the 13th May riots, Gerakan joined the Alliance to form the Barisan, until today. The debate was held at the MARA Auditorium which was at Batu Road, Kuala Lumpur.


When the ethnic riots started on 13th May 1969,  LKS was in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. A political novice, untried with no credentials to back him up. He was campaigning for the independent candidates there. Fellow members of the DAP in Petaling Jaya called LKS on the phone asking him not to come back to Kuala Lumpur for his own safety until such a time when  things cooled down. (Official fiqures:190 plus, Malaysians killed.)


LKS in his maiden political quest for justice, freedom, upholding of democracy and an equal right to happiness, dignity and fulfillment in life,  was already under the “protective” custody of the KK police. He replied that he “ is going back to Kuala Lumpur immediately and is not afraid to DIE for his political convictions” — all for a better life for all Malaysians. There was no choice. He had to martyr himself. There was no alternative. However, in case his life was spared, LKS was prepared to face any charges that the Alliance Government will bring up and charge against him.


Flights between East and West Malaysia was suspended.  Also at that point in time there was no direct flight between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu. LKS took the first flight out of KK to Singapore en route to KL on 15th May 1969. He had to stopover in Singapore.  

When he was in Singapore, he had many friends and supporters to discuss the racial riots and its consequences on opposition members. Anything can happen. There was no guarantee on his safety. LKS was adamant that it was his sacred duty to go back to KL.


He took the first available flight to Subang International Airport ( now Sultan Abdul Aziz Airport ) on 18th May 1969. He boarded the plane at the Paya Lebar International Airport, Singapore The  plane took off for KL.


While airborne, all of a sudden, LKS found that he was now alone. Alone to face the music. He cannot turn back then, unless of course the pilot turned the plane around. Samuel Taylor Coleridge can describe him as:-

“Alone alone, all all alone

Alone on a wide wide sea

And never a saint took pity on his soul in agony” – in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

                                                                                  Samuel Taylor Coleridge


The airborne mariner cannot change his mind then. Can he call for help? Call who? Call the CIA?. Call the FBI? Call the KGB?. Call MI 5?. Call OSS?. Call Chin Peng?. Call Chen Tian?. ( there were no mobile phones then)


Lim Kit Siang believed that he was going to be eliminated. On this last home coming  flight,   he  decided  to write a  last  letter to his wife – a homemaker. He asked his wife to be strong, to  expect  the EXPECTED and  to  bring up the four children.***.  To LKS, the demise of LKS is NOT important. The Political Future of Malaysians and the Future of Malaysia ARE of Paramount Importance. Malaysia MUST GO ON!  The letter was physically handed to the flight stewardess for posting. But it was without a stamp. Until today the letter was not delivered.  

The curfew was on. There were  lots of soldiers around the Subang Airport  then. They were there guarding the airport and to PROBABLY “welcome” home  in a formal reception “ceremony” for Mr Lim Kit Siang. All the soldiers’ SLR rifles were on a horizontal level. Their forefingers were just glazing the side of the trigger, in preparation to shoot at any time.


The moment of truth had arrived. The stage was set. The grand finale was about to begin. LKS came into  the arrival  hall. The atmosphere was unexceptionally quiet. Nobody was talking. The silence was deafening. It was tense and solemn because everybody were expecting the arrival of the Yang Berhormat,  the DAP MP for Bandar Malacca (now Kota Melaka). LKS was no fugitive. LKS, a young, non violent, non belligerent man, stepped out of the arrival hall. A group of Special Branch Officers  and soldiers with their horizontal SLRs “greeted” him. LKS need not hail a taxi for his transport to KL. There were no taxis anyway. There was also NO shooting.



On his journey to the High Street Police Station, LKS saw for himself the senseless carnage, atrocities, plunder and destruction. Smoke can still be seen from houses which were torched. After a few days of detention in the High Street Police Station, LKS was  sent   to a Police Station in Kuala Selangor, Selangor. 


Prior to 13-05-69, Dato Dr Ismail (later Tun), left the Government. He joined back the Government immediately after 13-05-69. The first words he said was “Democracy is Dead”.  As the Minister of Internal Security, Dato Ismail signed the Detention Order on LKS. LKS was then sent to the Muar Detention Camp. He was entitled to free food and lodging for the next 18 months at taxpayers’ expense. Ironically, Muar was 32 miles away from LKS home. His house is in Batu Pahat,  Johore

The Internal Security Act is an Act of Parliament formulated to suppress the communist insurgency and to arrest the communists at that period of time. Ironically, the PAP’s ( later DAP) Member of Parliament for Bungsar (now Bangsar) , Mr Devan Nair supported the ISA Bill earlier then.****. It is detention without trial.


While under detention LKS was appointed the 3rd  National Secretary General of the DAP (in absentia). There was a vacancy. The appointment was necessary because somebody had  disappeared  but  can be found in another country. He stayed put in that country then. “ I am NO LIM KIT SIANG.  If  I  go back  then,  all of you will be deprived of a Great Leader”.    The vacancy was filled. LKS  held  the  post of  National Sec-Gen  till 1999.


LKS could have absconded while in Singapore. ( Singapore was given independence by Malaysia in 1965). He could have asked for political asylum in another country. He could have been an MP in exile. He was and is a true loyal Malaysian Citizen. With guts, he went back to the hornet’s nest – “a river of no return”,  says Marilyn Monroe. Sorry. My apologies. He was and is  still in one piece. He was never charged in open court then. He will still be around for many years to come.


Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant never taste of death but once”—Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

Again sorry lah Kit, (as he is fondly known as).  We do realise that, the particular effective organ that is part of your anatomy is your gift of  the gap – a non lethal instrument. Now we know you are battle hardened. In spite of your tireless, relentless political pursuit, vocal, articulate or otherwise, until today, matters have become from bad to worst. True, “That All Men Are Born Equal but then some selectives are more equal than others—Abraham Lincoln’s version for  2nd class citizens.


LKS was again detained, the 2nd time in 1987, (after the 1986 General Election)  under the Mahathir Administration. He got free curry lunch, lodging, bed and breakfast again for another 18 months, on the auspicious pleasure of the host — the Barisan Government ala taxpayers. Again  no charges were brought against him. Can somebody name me a similar Malaysian likewise?



Somebody say LKS only NATO ( No action, talk only). If that is the case, let him talk! We like to hear him talk. Why detain him to stop him from talking? You are hitting below the belt. Do you want him to talk on what you like to hear and then stop him from talking on what you don’t like to hear? But at the same time you go on talking and talking on what we don’t like to hear! (Editor: hahah…that’s a good one! )


Finally, a belated sincere tribute must be made to the powers that be, at that critical, predatory point of time. LKS’s life was spared. The expected was not performed. The expected was unexpected – so to speak! Had LKS, the political apprentice left us to join the happy hunting ground, he will be forgotten. Nobody will raise an eyelid after all:-


“When beggars die, no comets are seen.

The heavens blaze forth the marriage of princes  Julius Caesar,  William Shakespeare’s

                                                                                 modern version

The powers that be was still rational then. Maybe its was mercy.


The quality of mercy is not strained

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

The Merchant of Venice. William Shakespeare                                                           


So to the players of  May the 13th, I am wishing a belated words of  thanks. To Whom It May Concern.  Thank You Very Much  for the fact that we still have LKS around. Say what we like. We argue.  We are all still Malaysian Citizens. We are born here. Do you want to deprive LKS  of his citizenship like Mr Lim Lean Geok ? By the way LKS is local born and can be classified as a Baba and his wife a Nonya. He is more Malaysian than  a bigger number of Malaysians put together!

Finally, we reiterate that we are all peace loving citizens. Some say we are citizens “by default”. This is subjective and debatable. Supposing we ARE citizens by default, we are still citizens, maybe 2nd class citizens or otherwise.


To all Malaysian mankind:-

He loveth best, who loveth best, both man and bird and beast.

He loveth well, who loveth well, for all things both great and small

For the dear God who loveth us, he made and loveth all.”  

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s moral message to humanity especially to Malaysian humans.                                                                                              

The writer notes that after the riots of 13th May 1969, the Deputy Prime Minister, Dato Abdul Razak (later Tun) set up  The National Operations Council. Parliament was suspended after all “Democracy is Dead”. Looking after this NOC, was Dato Ghazali Shafie (later Tun).                                                             4

Incidentally, the 3rd man in ranking, in  the  NOC  then, was a slim, serious, handsome, no nonsense looking man – a politically unknown then.  He was probably the “executive secretary” of the NOC. He literally commanded the day to day operations of the NOC —  hands on. He was already a “Chief Executive Officer” and “Prime Minister” then, way back during 1969.  He looked familiar and was identical  towards  a former school mate of mine from my Alma Mater : Methodist Boys School, Penang. My school mate’s  name was and is Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.


Lastly, to all the participants of May the 13th that are not indicted including Lim Kit Siang. All are still executives of  liberty,  happy,  free from all encumbrances and despotic control. All will live happily ever after including LKS.


* Mr Goh Hock Guan was the 2nd DAP Secretary General (1968 to 13th May 1969). Mr Goh’s  sister, Ms Phyllis Goh was an architect undergraduate then and was a college mate of the writer.

In 1969, the writer was staying above the office of M/s Goh Hock Guan & Associates at Fook Chuen Mansions at Batu Road, Kuala Lumpur. He had a 1st Class ring side seat cum an On Line, Real Time bird’s eye view of the May 13th story.


** Lim Kit Siang was the 1st DAP National Organising Secretary and Editor of The Rocket. (1966 to 1969).

Lim Kit Siang was appointed the 3rd  DAP Secretary General (1969 – 1999) – the longest serving DAP Sec Gen.


*** As at 13th May 1969, Lim Kit Siang has four children then. The eldest is a son 9 years old then. He is Lim Guan Eng,  the  present day  Secretary General of the DAP.  An Australian Graduate of  Monash University, he is an Accountant by profession.


The second child is a daughter. She was 7 years as at 13th May 1969. She hold a double degree – in law and in accountancy.


The third child is also a daughter. She was 6 years old as at 13th May 1969. She is a B.A degree holder.


The last and fourth child is a son. He was 3 years old as at 13th May 1969. He is a heart specialist. A few years ago, I understand that he was attached to the IJN (Institut Jantung Negara) as a cardiologist.




PAP is the People’s Action Party of Singapore which was already ruling Singapore in 1964.


Mr Devan Nair was  born in Malacca on the 8th of August 1923. He was the main organizer and founder of the DAP. Naturally he became the 1st Secretary General of the DAP ( 1966 – 1968). He stood as a PAP ( later DAP) candidate in Bungsar in the 1964 General Election. Winning this Bungsar seat, he became the Member of Parliament for PAP in  the 1964 – 1969 parliamentary session. From 1981 to 1985 he was appointed  the President of Singapore. Dr Chen Man Hin, the present day DAP Life Advisor said “ Without him the DAP may not be born”.


The writer at 18 years old, campaigned for Mr Devan Nair during 1964 General Election. His son Janadas (now Ph D) recalled the days when he was small boy as at 1964. He remembered an incident when the writer was nearly apprehended by  the police when the writer put up a  2nd  political banner at the Railway Station  KL  prior to the 1964 General Elections. The setting up of the 1st banner was earlier accomplished at the flyover, beside the KL Railway Station. The banner says “ Vote  PAP – a  Non Communist  Democratic Socialist Party”. The writer then was able to outwit, out manoeuvre and  run away from the  police in  a  busy  KL  because he was young,  agile and  was on a portable bicycle! 

Dr Jana (as he is known to me) who is now residing in Canada. He was here  on  2006 during the DAP Devan Nair Memorial. We recalled the good old days.


The writer deliberately put in the names of the literary writers because of requests from the younger readers.



Watch out for

1)  Dr Lim Kit Siang.

2) “Lim Kit Siang – 18 months after 13th May 1969” in the coming episodes.

3) Lim Kit Siang an opportunist and an agent of UMNO?


Yours truly,


James Bond Zero Zero One


Razak’s role in May 13 questioned by Tunku

June 16, 2007
How many of us agree with Najib’s assessment of his late father? I do not agree. Razak was not loyal to Tunku. His role in May 13 was highly questionable. Many believed Harun was taking the cues from him.

‘He lived and died for the people’

Bede Hong
Jun 15, 07 6:52pm

Two months shy of Malaysia’s golden anniversary, Umno decides to honour the late Tun Abdul Razak in a lavish seminar at the Sime Darby convention centre in Kuala Lumpur today.

The country’s second prime minister was described as a “loyal man” who did not turn dictator when he could.

His son, and present deputy prime minister, Najib Abdul Razak, said his father was the inspiration to public service.

“He is the main source of my motivation to work hard for the people,” he told an audience of 200 Umno members and academicians.

“As stationery was hard to come by then, he used to learn mathematics by doing the problems on the sand,” added the deputy premier, who described his father as a hard worker who performed well academically.

Razak, who died in 1976 after serving as prime minister for two terms, attended the Kuala Kangsar Malay College and Raffles College in Singapore. He later completed his law degree in Lincon’s Inn in London.

Najib quoted former economic planning unit director Thong Yaw Hong as saying that his father had “lived and died for the people.”

He also quoted Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as saying to him, “You are his biological son but I’m his political son.”

Not power crazy

“Tun could have continued running (Majlis Gerakan Negara) Mageran for as long as he wished. But he was not power crazy,” said Najib.

After the 1969 riots, Razak had chaired the National Operations Council and the country’s de-facto administrative body (Mageran). The country was in a state of emergency until 1971.

“There are many examples around the world where there are leaders whose total power is unquestioned, where leaders try to hold on to that power.

“However, Tun regarded the Mageran directorship as a heavy responsibility. He believed in the principles of democracy and did not want to be regarded as a dictator. That is why Tun returned administration of the country to the people and parliamentary democracy,” said Najib.

“Although Tun was regarded as someone who could take over the leadership from Tunku (Abdul Rahman) earlier, on the urging of some parties, he remained a loyal person.

“He said, ‘I would never allow myself to do this. This is not the Malay way. If we are the second man, we have to play our role as the second man,” he said.

Ill intentions

Najib also listed out the social institutions and agencies his father had created: Felda, Petronas, Mara, Tabung Haji, Mida, MIDF, MISC, Fama, Pernas, UDA, LPN, LPP, Felcra, Risda, Bank Bumiputera, Bank Pertanian, UKM, ITM, Bernama, the Islamic Centre, the Bumiputera Economic Congress and the state development body.

Razak also created the Rukun Negara which spells out the social contract for Malaysians, which includes the protection of the special rights of the Malays.

He also helped draft the New Economic Policy (NEP), a race-based affirmative action that sought to raise rural Malays out of poverty.

Also present at the seminar were Umno Youth chief Hishammuddin Hussein and his deputy Khairy Jamaluddin.

In his speech, Khairy attacked the detractors of Barisan Nasional (BN).

“Now there are some people in society that are too clever, they think BN is not relevant anymore because it was created by ethnic-based political parties. Some of them aspire to distort history, to review dark parts of history, that we try to forget.

“They don’t have any basis for their allegations and they have ill intentions. They want to point fingers and put responsibilities on innocent parties,” he said.

May 13 and a comment by Dr Collin Abraham

May 30, 2007
“Within two days the membership of the Council was announced but perhaps one of the greatest political tactical errors was the MCA’s decision not to accept any cabinet posts. While it was understandable that the party should abdicate from its traditional partnership with Umno in the Alliance, (because of the massive defeat of its candidates in the general election), withdrawal meant that Umno had a free hand to push ahead the bumiputera position in the New Economic Policy without Chinese opposition.” Dr Collin Abraham

 May 13 and beyond (Pt 1)

Dr Collin Abraham
May 28, 07 12:06pm
The May 13th race riots cannot be understood as an isolated event but as the cumulative convergence of historically determined disruptive political and social forces that were perpetuated and developed over a period of time.These involved contributory and precipitating causes that have to do with the acquisition, discrimination and abuse of political power, and which came to a head in the post-independence period.Indeed, in place of nation-building efforts, there was already the breakdown of law and order in Kuala Lumpur, such that May 13th itself has even been described at least by one observer as a “blessing in disguise” because it finally resulted in the lawless situation in Kuala Lumpur being brought under control. (Raja Petra: Malaysia Today, April 9, 2007). 

The contributory causes need to be recognised. First, the root cause can be traced to the Federation of Malaya Agreement itself, the first piece of post-war legislation promulgated by the British colonial government which failed to provide any semblance of political stability because the constitutional status of the different racial groups was not negotiated in consultation with the legitimate representatives of the respective communities.

The innate characteristic of powerlessness was thereby initiated and allowed to be perpetuated right into the post-colonial period. The two groups most representative of the Malays, the Nationalist Party and the Islamic factions walked out of Umno and the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) which was the only party with predominant Chinese membership (that collaborated with the British in Force 136) was not invited to participate in the negotiations. Therefore it was the elitist Umno members’ interests that were promoted in the Agreement which was unrealistically (and of course conveniently) considered by the British as representing the Malay community as a whole.

But this was an erroneous perspective. The Malay rakyat that had hitherto been politically dormant under the feudal system in the pre-colonial period had become strongly nationalistic, first because of the defeat of the British by the Japanese and then by the promise the latter to give the Malays political independence. It an be asserted that it was this nationalistic fervour, and not Umno membership as such, that enabled the mass protest against the Malayan Union proposals. Indeed it can also be argued that it was this same national consciousness that forced the resignation of Onn Jaafar when he proposed opening Umno membership to non-Malays.

The possibility of losing political power to the Chinese was the other main concern of the rakyat which was also the fear of the Malay elite, but there was the other additional reason that the latter feared the Chinese were likely to encroach on their economic interests ( with British backing). But at the same time the elite groups also needed the Malay grassroots for political support to politically keep the Chinese at bay.

Therefore it would not be difficult in the situation of the victory parade after the 1969 general election where Chinese opposition parties were claiming to have defeated the Alliance and would “take over the government” for both groups to react fiercely particularly because the threat of the Chinese taking political power seemed to be becoming a reality.

Malay case

It must be emphasised that this nationalist consciousness could be expected to have become reinforced and heightened by the fact the Malay working class, the peasantry, other low income groups as well as the lower middle class had yet to see any appreciable improvement in their social life since Merdeka, and yet the Chinese immigrants were now threatening to take over the government.

The call for the Malay youth therefore to attend the post-election rally, also from other parts of the country as well, was also intended as a demonstration against Umno leadership itself for allowing this static economic situation to continue. Therefore it would be expected that the gathering at the home of the Selangor Mentri Besar would also have included representatives of lower-middle class Malays as well as others acting as youth leaders.

A defining question in the collaboration and first coming together of Umno and MCA in the Alliance party to contest the KL municipal elections is nothing more than a case of false consciousness. It needs to be strongly emphasised that this so-called political accommodation was essentially a ‘fluke’ shot in the political arena. It was totally devoid of any notions of political theory or ideology. But it was conveniently accepted as a sufficient condition to work for political independence because it was intended to maintain the status quo and therefore serve the common interests of the British, the Malay ruling class, and the Chinese business class.

The Alliance party therefore ensured that the unequal and discriminatory colonial social structure was maintained at the expense of egalitarian policies for Malay rakyat and the Chinese working classes. Put simply it was a case of ‘each man for himself and God for all’ and it follows that the election process that offered the only known hope of effecting a change to bring about a more caring society for all had become a farce.

Chinese case

The situation of the working class Chinese community was also one of a continuous struggle to survive. Emerging from what is perhaps the most exploitative system of indentured labour in Malaya recorded in documentary evidence as the ‘pig trade’ and subjected to ‘vice’ items to earn revenue by the colonial government through opium, alcohol, gambling and prostitution, a small proportion managed to set them selves up as independent workers in the tin industry and related occupations subsequently. But with increasing population and denied access to land they turned to wage employment and pressed for better working conditions through trades unions. However because the unions had the support of the CPM they were suppressed and declared illegal. Moreover because of this and the lack of jobs for the Chinese educated many joined the CPM because they had to fight to survive.

What the Chinese lacked most was political power. Persuaded by the colonial government, their businessmen organised themselves to protect their economic interests, so from its very inception the MCA was a political party representing the towkay class. It is important to recognise that while the fledging party could have worked to build up the party and provide political and economic support for the Chinese community as a whole, the leaders instead chose to forge links with the Malay ruling class and thereby develop mutually beneficial interests as a class.

The Chinese providing the economic support to the Alliance Party through the provision of huge funds for election purposes and economic representation in their larger business consortiums for the Umno elite, and in return seeking political legitimacy through representation of more parliamentary seats of the Alliance party. Their indifference to the Chinese community is evidenced by one of the most ‘outrageous’ scenarios of MCA indifference in the failure to present the Chinese Memorandum to the British Government at the Mederka Conference to demand a place in the independent Malaya. The Chinese interests therefore were not presented to the British government. Instead according to a statement attributed to Tunku Abdul Rahman the Memorandum was thrown into the wastepaper basket!

What this means is that literally the ‘mass’ of Chinese were automatically alienated from the political process from Day 1 and therefore sought political representation through opposition parties such as the Labour Front and the DAP. In fact it can be argued that in effect the reduction of political power of the Alliance in the 1969 election was because of the rejection of MCA candidates by the Chinese. Because the opposition parties were ‘outside’ the normal conservative value system of being subservient to the political status quo as in the MCA the Chinese members were therefore free to express political dissent with regard to their marginalised political status with a minimum of restraint in the opposition parties

To add to this was the confidence they had gained from the entry of the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) of Singapore into the Malaysian political arena. The demand by PAP leader Lee Kuan Yew for a Malaysian Malaysia provided added emphasis to these Chinese to back the opposition parties with confidence and a sense of legitimacy. To them, Malaya belonged to all and as Malays are not necessarily the only indigenous community, they must necessarily accept the Chinese as equals in a power-sharing government.

1969 general election

On the eve of the 1969 polls and against this background there was the question of granting a police permit for a large funeral procession to go through the town centre for an opposition party (Labour Party) member who had been shot by the police. There are some conflicting accounts about the decision to grant this permit. Tunku Abdul Rahman told me that he was against a permit being issued because of the highly charged political climate.

But according to the Tunku the permit was finally issued by Abdul Razak Hussein (photo) when the latter was acting prime minister (after the Tunku had returned to his home town in Kedah for the weekend).Apparently pressure by Dr David Tan of the Labour Party convinced Razak that there was no legitimate reason why a permit should be withheld.

In one of the two long interviews I had with Tunku Abdul Rahman in Penang, (while 1 was teaching a race relations course at USM), the Tunku attached great importance to the funeral procession that was held on the eve of the general election. It was his strongly held view that this funeral procession sowed the seeds for the May 13th riots. The shooting of a Chinese opposition party member by a Malay policeman just days before the election, and the funeral procession being allowed to go through the KL town centre was, to the Tunku, a recipe for trouble.

According to the Tunku however, the decision to overrule him and grant the permit also had a personal dimension. He explained that while he was aware of a move by certain Umno leadership for him to step down as prime minister, no one had actually approached him to do so. He therefore felt that the permit approval against his earlier decision amounted to open criticism that he was no longer in touch with reality and should therefore resign.

There was also increasing concern among the Umno leadership at this time that certain MCA officials (and some Chinese businessmen as well) were moving in the inner circles among the Tunku’s close associates. Although it was agreed that this was purely in his private capacity it might nonetheless compromise the Tunku’s position as prime minister.

Read Part 2 here.

May 13 and beyond (Pt 2)
Dr Collin Abraham
May 29, 07 11:29am
It is clear that the 1969 election results and victory parade were the two main precipitating factors leading to the race riots. It must be recognised at the outset that these were distinctly separate events and it is important to distinguish between the two.In fact because the resulting race riots were the direct outcome of the aftermath of the victory parade itself, they will not be taken up for analysis here except to reiterate that the level of racial insults and threats to continued Malay government seen during the election campaign had in fact become too extreme even to mention.

The years of being in the political wilderness, and the expected revolution of rising expectations resulting in the revolution of rising frustrations, had taken their toll. 

Once the spark of the fuse had been lit all hell broke loose and the only steps that could be taken were to try to bring the law and order situation back under control. For example at the height of the riots, Ismail Mohd Ali recorded that Abdul Razak Hussein (photo) wanted to drive down to the epicentre in his official car and directly call on the rioters to stop the bloodshed. Ismail’s response to Razak was simple and effective: “They will probably tear you to pieces.”

(It might not be out of place to seek a word of clarification as to whether the riots could be strictly termed as ‘race’ riots. Had they really been so, they would have spread to rural areas as well and Chinese shopkeepers and others in small-scale business scattered around the kampongs would have been massacred.)

In retrospect, the 1969 election campaign itself was the writing on the wall that there could be some racial trouble because of the strong ‘anti-racial’ tone of the entire campaign that according to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah also extended to the candidates from PAS and Umno itself. And yet there were no attempts either by the Alliance government or the police to take pre-emptive steps to maintain law and order.

Undue delay

Even when the election results showed that the Umno-dominated Alliance had in fact suffered a major setback when it lost the two-thirds parliamentary majority that it had enjoyed since the inception of democracy, there seemed a lack of preparedness for any likely adverse outcomes.

Indeed, even with the opposition’s victory celebrations over the gain of Penang and Kelantan and when Perak and Selangor were on the brink of falling into their hands, and with Chinese and Indian demonstrators calling on the Malays to quit Kuala Lumpur, leaving the seat of government to the opposition, there is little evidence of police preparedness to face a deteriorating law and order situation.

The seriousness of the situation might be gauged from the following statement: “For the first 24 hour period, sections of the police force simply became demoralised due to the impact of widespread violence and the regular police forces are a key element in maintaining any long range security in this country.” (17th May 1969, Confidential to FCO, cited in Kua Kia Soong, May 13th p50)

As regards the tragic aftermath of the riots in terms of the deaths, casualties and untold suffering and misery of the victims there is little doubt that it was worse because of the undue delay on the part of the authorities to deal with the situation. The fact was that the political leaders were caught by surprise and hence even after three days of rioting there was still no directive from the government to the army to move in to control the situation. Neither were the army chiefs of staff able to initiate action on their own volition.

Indeed, in an informal discussion with one of the generals summoned by Razak and questioned as to why the army was failing to take prompt action, he was astonished to be told that the army was waiting for instructions!

It would seem very strange that such senior military officers who would have probably have been trained overseas including top British military institutions failed to grasp the seriousness of the law and order situation and to have acted accordingly. When I probed the matter further, the general‘s response was that the army was waiting for the police to withdraw from the scene so that it could be free to take such action it thought fit. It was only after Razak signed a directive that the army finally moved in.

There is no question therefore that the earlier colonial government, and the entire Alliance government should be held accountable for this tragic situation where ordinary law-abiding men, women and children were hounded like animals and died like dogs in the streets through no fault of their own.

It can be seen from the above analysis that the entire elite ruling class of both races were more concerned about maintaining their cosy neo-colonial status quo after independence while being themselves protected by the Anglo-Malaysian defence treaty against foreign aggression. This is all the more incriminating considering that that in my recent book I argued that neither Umno nor the MCA had a popular mandate to take over the Government from the British at the time of independence. (‘The Finest Hour”)

MCA pullout

The question of the establishment of the National Operations Council (NOC) must also be recognised. Whatever else may be said about the usurpation of democratic powers by the military it must nonetheless be conceded that the law and order had been brought under control and the political situation was in hand.

Particularly to those with first-hand experience of the lawlessness in parts of KL controlled by gangsters and secret societies prior to the elections, and especially to those who saw their relatives being suddenly massacred and they themselves severely injured or being forced to become refugees, the NOC might be said to be a blessing in disguise.

Within two days the membership of the Council was announced but perhaps one of the greatest political tactical errors was the MCA’s decision not to accept any cabinet posts. While it was understandable that the party should abdicate from its traditional partnership with Umno in the Alliance, (because of the massive defeat of its candidates in the general election), withdrawal meant that Umno had a free hand to push ahead the bumiputera position in the New Economic Policy without Chinese opposition.

But the fact remains that while there was no policy to enhance a multiracial society under colonialism, indeed policies such as divide and rule were designed to ensure that integration did not take place. But even after Independence the continuation of political parties based on race essentially perpetuated the divisiveness of society along racial lines rather than to work towards integration.

It should be clear to readers therefore that our entire society in on a fault line and therefore we have no option but to get off it as soon as possible. With respect, it happens that both my recent books ‘The Naked Social Order’ and ‘The Finest Hour’ provide discussion and analysis on these vital questions and it is my considered opinion therefore that we need to reject the post-colonial social structure in its entirety once and for all and to seek an alternative model if we are to avoid racial conflicts in the future.

Ahmad ‘Chicago’ and other gang leaders vanished after May 13

May 20, 2007
Many Malay and Chinese gang leaders were involved in clashes and some of the well-known figures like Ahmad ‘Chicago’ disappeared soon after the May 13 Incident. We believe they were killed in the clashes during the darkest hours of our history.The people who instigated and made use of the gangsters were none other than the politicians who planned to overthrow the late Tunku Abdul Rahman.

‘Glorious days’ of Kampung Baru old timers

Fauwaz Abdul Aziz
May 19, 07 5:37pm

special report An afternoon chat over teh tarik with some elderly gentlemen in Kuala Lumpur’s Kampung Baru revealed something more than ambivalence among many Malays regarding the May 13 racial riots in 1969.

Many residents of Kampung Baru – when asked regarding their views of May 13 and whether the episode should be re-examined by the government and re-debated by the public – said the episode was a “dark spot” in the communal history of Malaysia and urged for “the past to remain in the past.”

Resurrecting May 13, they said, would be like digging up the graves of the tragedy. Official records claim the two-day riots – which saw the worst destruction in Kampung Baru – led to the death of 137, 342 injured, 109 vehicles burned, 118 buildings destroyed and 2,912 persons arrested.

“What we should be doing is talk of more pressing current issues, such as the price hike of basic goods,” said one 51-year old resident, who wanted to be identified only as Abdul Rahman.

“I bought a glass of coffee this morning and was charged as much as RM1.70! Why rationalise May 13 any further? The fear that it conjures is enough,” he added.

Paramilitary units 

A conversation with some other old-timers, however, turned quickly into a session of reminiscing – as old soldiers do of their exploits in battle – of those days 38 years ago when a number of them, then active members of the notorious Kampung Baru gangs, became ‘champions’ of the Malays.

Their eyes lit up and their voices gained a tone of youthful excitement as they recalled the days when they were in the ‘frontlines’ of the May 13 clashes against gang members from the Chinese-dominated area of neighbouring Chow Kit.

Sixty-year old ‘Alang’, recalled with glee when he – armed with a crudely-made ‘sword’ hammered into shape out of a metal pipe and wearing the selendang merah (red sash) of his silat/gang group – and other machete-wielding Malay gangsters and other youths from Selangor and other states served as Kampung Baru’s self-appointed paramilitary units.

Many other silat/gang group members wore blue selendang. Regardless of what they wore, however, only those who had been in gang fights before May 13 could endure the violence, said Alang.

“We were already used to fighting. That is why we could be in the frontline of the May 13 clashes. Those who had not known violence already could not get used to it. They could not even stand the sight of violent death,” said the father of nine.

“One person, for example, was at first very spirited when Dato Harun (Idris, then menteri besar of Selangor) first called for Malay youths to rally at his house. He had sharpened his keris and whispered all sorts of invocations over the blade.

“But when the time comes to face them (the Chinese gang-members), he fainted out of fright before anything even happened!” he said laughing.

Alang invoked, predictably, the name of legendary warrior of 14th Century Malacca, Hang Tuah, as if to sanctify the semangat Melayu (Malay spirit) that had rampaged Kampung Baru and laid to waste Chinese homes and shoplots.

“Violence and death, when you’ve familiar with it, becomes thrilling. The clash and the chase for your enemies actually becomes fun. You are not afraid of death any more,” said Alang.

Seventy-year old ‘Syed’, who was then a staff-sergeant in the Royal Malay Regiment’s intelligence division, boasted of how he rescued Malays – including his pregnant wife – and Chinese trapped in buildings and caught between the impending clashes of warring groups.

Even Syed, however, spoke admiringly of those gang leaders who had risen to “take back” Malay rights and forced the government to pay attention to the Malays’ socio-economic conditions. Kampung Baru, then and now, is among the poorest sectors of Kuala Lumpur.

Gang leaders were united 

Among such gang leaders, said Syed, were those who went by such names as ‘Ahmad Chicago’ who controlled one part of Kampung Baru, ‘Mat Whiskey’ (not his real nickname) who controlled “this side of Kampung Baru”, and ‘Mat Seram’ who controlled yet another part.

“If not for May 13, would there have been the Felda schemes?” asked Syed, citing the Federal Land Development Authority and other affirmative-action policies for bumiputeras.

Other gangs who had a field day during May 13 were Long Futong, ‘2-4′, ‘Sampat’, and ‘0-8′. Leaders of some of the gangs went on to become senior political leaders and government figures.

“Kampung Baru, which was known then as a ‘black area’ ruled by gangs where not even the police would set foot in. Alang was feared,” said Syed of his friend.
“An outsider stepping into this side of Kampung Baru was sure to get it from him!” he laughed as Alang grinned in acknowledgment.

Among the highlights of May 13, said Alang, was the uniting of gang leaders and members who previously had bad blood between them.

“We can never forget the day when Ahmad Chicago and Mat Whiskey hugged each other and made peace in front of the mosque,” said Alang. PAS members from Kelantan and Umno members from Johor also forgot their political differences and united.

The elderly gentlemen lamented the subsequent extinction of semangat Melayu and the spirit to “stand up for the community” among the next generation of Malays.

“The only thing Malay youth are notorious for nowadays are being Mat Rempits and getting high on drugs. They’re oblivious to the fact this land is no more referred to as tanah air Melayu (Malay land). Even (Rail operator) Keretapi Tanah Melayu is now only known as KTM Bhd.

“Soon, everything else Malay in this country will be lost,” he said bitterly.

Syed spoke highly of then deputy premier Tun Abdul Razak who, after May 13, took over as prime minister from Tunku Abdul Rahman and put into place the New Economic Policy (NEP).

“Tunku had given too much face to foreigners,” said Syed.

Let bygones be bygones

“May 13 itself and afterwards brought the Malays many blessings. Unfortunately, we’re not much better now than we were four decades ago. If May 13 happened again, most Malays would not be ready,” said Syed disapprovingly.

Shaking her head in disagreement, 56-year-old ‘Hamidah’ urged for all parties, especially academics and political leaders, to let bygones be bygones.

“Let it go. We ordinary people have no space to talk of such issues. It’s only the ruling and opposition political parties that still argue about May 13,” she said quietly.

In agreement with her, Abdul Rahman, the resident who had witnessed May 13 as a 12-year-old, suggested that while the popular masses had gotten caught up in the emotions of the times, it was the political leaders who did and still exploit communal issues for political gain.

“There is no need to relive the issues. The only lesson May 13 teaches us is that ordinary people like us ‘freak out’ over the issues that are raised, but are still used as pawns by the political elite.

“Now, they’re doing it again by raising the past instead of solving current problems,” he said.

Time to demystify the spectre of May 13

May 18, 2007

Instead of allowing Umno leaders to bring up the spectre of May 13 to threaten voters time and again in general elections, it’s better to demystify the bloody event and set our minds free from unjustified fears once and for all.

The Umno-led BN government must not ban the book if they have nothing to hide. Any attempt to ban the book only hardens the perception that ‘Umno was at fault and they are now afraid of the revelations.’ 

I disagree with Prof Khoo Kay Khim that ‘the Special Branch could have kept ‘more accurate information ‘on the May 13 Incident. BTW, former police top gun Yuen Yuet Leng (he was the deputy SB chief at that time) has openly said that the Special Branch was caught totally unguarded; the department did not know that such a riot will break out although they sensed that ’emotions were high’. He also said that the official records with the Special Branch may not be better or more complete than the British archives ( he was responding to Dr Kua who claimed that the police could be keeping files with better and more complete information than the British authority).

This is not the first time Prof Khoo making false and unsubstantial comments on historical events. He has made numerous blunders in the past ( such as ‘British never rules Malaya’; ‘Malay Left and CPM have no significant role in the struggle of Independence’ etc) because his mind was clouded by a seriously flawed and biased  ‘pro-establishment’ attitude. In my mind, Khoo may be regarded as a historian but he would never be able to write a book on any sensitive or controversial subject, be it the May 13 Incident or the history of independence of Malaya. A friend of mine told me this afternoon that “this chap has no guts to tell the truth”. I’m afraid that I have to agree with him.

May 13 book: Anwar says ‘No’ to ban

Malaysiakini May 18, 07 4:55pm

Banning a controversial book on the May 13 riots will violate the right to freedom of expression enshrined in the Federal Constitution, said PKR adviser Anwar Ibrahim. He said in an age where information flows freely, constitutional freedoms must be honoured rather than breached.

“Laws and regulations which purport to grant power to the state to proscribe publications arbitrarily must only be used under the most exceptional circumstances.

“The book may indeed be controversial but if the government does not agree with the issues raised, it should refute them in an open and transparent manner,” he added in a statement today.

Anwar, a former deputy premier, said the government cannot continually adopt strong-arm measures in an attempt to silence public discourse. “This is quite apart from the fact that the banning of any book immediately enhances its value and whets the appetite of readers. “More significantly, banning this book will reinforce its thesis that the May 13 riots were indeed caused by a coup plotted by certain leaders to oust (then premier) Tunku Abdul Rahman,” he added.

Demystifying process

The book – ‘May 13 Declassified Documents on the Racial Riots of 1969’ – was launched on May 13 this month. It was penned by academic Dr Kua Kia Soong. Since hitting the shelves, the book has been a fast seller.

On Tuesday, Internal Security Ministry personnel confiscated 10 copies for ‘studying’ sparking off concerns that a ban could be enforced. Meanwhile, Anwar said he views the book as the start of a process to ‘demystify’ the May 13 riots. He noted that nearly after four decades, the riots are still talked about in hushed tones because the authorities have not provided any conclusive answers.

“There are bound to be divergent views about this tragic episode of our history. I call on all Malaysians to have an open mind in the discourse while respecting the sensitivities of all communities,” he added.

The author of the book had spent three-months researching recently declassified documents at the Public Records Office in London. He concluded that the 1969 riots were not spontaneous racial outburst but a planned coup attempt by ‘Malay capitalists’ against Tunku.

Academics at odds over May 13 book
Andrew Ong
Malaysiakini May 18, 07 11:59am
A fast-selling new book on the May 13 racial riots has not only caused ripples among government figures, but several academics interviewed voiced varied concerns surrounding the nature of the book.Authored by Dr Kua Kia Soong, the book ‘May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969’ provides an alternative account of the tragic event and is facing a possible ban. A day after the book hit the shelves, three senators called for action to be taken against the book and Kua, while Deputy Internal Security Minister Fu Ah Kiow said the ministry was studying the contents to decide on a course of action.
Ten copies of the book have already been confiscated for “studying” by the Internal Security Ministry from a major bookstore chain in Kuala Lumpur.In response, Prof Shamsul Amri Baharuddin of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and the head the Ethnic Relations Module drafting committee said there was no need to jump to conclusions on the book.”They should read the book first and make judgement later. It’s a bad habit among Malaysians,” he said when contacted.

Similarly, former World Bank analyst Dr Lim Teck Ghee said the government reaction towards the book was counterproductive and that a ban would eventually be circumvented by electronic communication.

“It will further reinforce the public perception that the government has much to hide or cover up in this watershed event of Malaysian history.

“It would have been more strategic for the Government to quietly and discreetly buy up all the copies of the book and bury or burn them,” said Lim, who is also a former United Nations regional advisor.

Dispute over content

(A paper titled ‘Corporate Equity Distribution: Past Trends and Future Policy’ which Lim was involved in, was also the subject of controversy because the paper challengedgovernment data on bumiputera corporate equity ownership. Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), where Lim headed its Centre of Public Policy Studies, later cowed to government pressure and withdrew the study. Lim resigned in protest over Asli’s move)

Lim considers the book important as he described it as “unbiased information” on the May 13 incident which the government much acknowledge.

Kua had spent three-months researching recently declassified documents at the Public Records Office in London and concluded that the 1969 riots were not spontaneous racial outburst but a planned coup attempt by ‘Malay capitalist’ against then premier Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Reknowned historian Prof Khoo Kay Khim however expressed caution over the book and questions the validity of the sources cited.

“I don’t think he got very much. If he had access to (police) Special Branch files he might probably get more accurate information,” said Khoo.

He asserts that the 1969 riots took place after cumulative years of racial tension, while Kua’s book was mainly focused on the event itself.

Khoo also warned that the allegations made in the book could stoke racial sentiments.

“I have been told that (Kua) named certain leaders as people responsible for the riots. That of course can lead to all kind of unpredictable responses since the leaders he named were apparently not Chinese but Malay. It creates a difficult situation in our fragile society,” he added.

On possible action taken by the authorities, Khoo said the authorities should have monitored the progress of the book earlier rather than reacting after the book was published.

“But then people will be unhappy that (such actions curb) freedom of speech, which is a very relative thing. People have to be careful (in dealing with such matters),” he said.

On Sunday, former Universiti Malaya sociology and anthropology professor Dr Syed Husin Ali told a forum at the launch of Kua’s book that the riots were not a coup attempt but a result of certain Umno leaders taking advantage of the party’s weakened leadership. 

Meant for public consumption

When asked about the contribution of Kua’s book to academic discourse on the subject, Shamsul said that based purely on news reports on the matter, he did not technically consider the book academic material.

“Two conditions must be met – there must be two referees and that the book must be published by recognised publisher (of academic material).

“For me, I think he is a public intellectual concerned about issues whether (the general) May 13 interpretation is correct. I think it is a good thing to do. The real question is whether people agree or not with his analysis,” said Shamsul.

Kua when contacted said his books meets academic expectations, but it was published for public consumption.

“At the same time it needs to meet my needs of having a political position with an analysis,” said Kua, a former DAP MP for Bukit Bintang and currently principal for New Era College in Kajang.

He said his book was not meant to be an exhaustive take on the May 13 incident and that the only way to uncover the truth of the matter was through an independent inquiry

“In the postscript of my book, I appealed for eyewitness accounts, from friends and relatives of victims, with oral history and details of what happened. This is the beginning of how the people will get the bigger picture,” added Kua.

Unveiling the May 13 riots

May 13: Forgive but not forget

May 16, 2007









I hold the view that we should forgive but not forget about the May 13 Incident. All Malaysians , young and old , should know the important historical events of our land, regardless of whether it was positive or negative in nature. May 13 Incident was regarded as the darkest hours in our 50 years of nationhood. We should know who were the culprits and why it has taken place. With a clear knowledge and understanding of the ugly incident, we should know what need to be done to keep Malaysia a peaceful and prosperous nation.

It’s our common goal to keep every Malaysians happy and safe, living harmoniously together. No one (especially Umno) should use the May 13 Incident again to threaten voters.

If Umno as a party has made such a serious mistake in the past, the current leadership should be bold enough to admit it. They should even apologise for the crimes committed in the past. The last thing they should do is to prevent the younger generations from knowing the hitory by banning the book.

Columnist Yang BaiYang has a comment…


07年5月15日 下午5:37








纳吉说政府有各种管道去充分了解事件的导因。国人读历史,不只是要知道历史事件的导因。 他们不只要知道五一三事件由什么人发动,他们要知道整个事件的发生过程,最后如何收场?这段历史演变到今天,成为一种什么局面?还原事实真相是最根本的要求,如果官方的报告已经包括了一切事实真相,那么柯嘉逊的书,也只能证实官方的报告是真相罢了。反之,国人应该感谢他补充或者纠正的事实。




May 13 books confiscated by the authority

May 16, 2007
The authority confiscated some 10 copies of the book on May 13 by Dr Kua at the MPH bookstore in Midvalley yesterday, claiming that the book may be banned under the 1984 Printing & Publication Act. This is an abuse of power and the action of the authority must be condemned.

Ministry seizes controversial May 13 book
May 15, 07 8:56pm


The Internal Security Ministry confiscated 10 copies a controversial book with new claims on the May 13 racial riots from a major bookstore in the Midvalley shopping centre today.

According to the publishers of ‘May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969′, a team of ministry officers visited the MPH bookstore this afternoon.

The officers advised the popular bookstore not to sell the book as it may be banned.

According to a letter issued by the ministry officers to the bookstore, the books were confiscated from the shelves for suspicion of being an “undesirable publication” based on Section 7 of the Printing Press and Publications Act 1984.

The act empowers the minister to ban any publication which is “prejudicial to or likely to be prejudicial to public order, morality, security, the relationship with any foreign country or government, or which is likely to alarm public opinion”.

The book is penned by academic Dr Kua Kia Soong as a result of a three-month research at the Public Records Office in London to study records and declassified documents on the May 13, 1969 communal riots.

Based on official correspondences and intelligence reports by British officers, Kua argued that the riots were not random acts of communal violence but a coup d’etat attempt by a faction within Umno.

He asserts that the coup attempt against then premier Tunku Abdul Rahman was also backed by the police and army with the intention of forging a new Malay agenda.

Kua said official records show was evidence that portrayal of the event in history books were heavily distorted, which blamed the riots on opposition parties “infiltrated by communist insurgents”.

Senators want book banned

Official figures said the May 13 riots claimed 196 lives, 180 were wounded by firearms and 259 by other weapons, 9,143 persons were arrested out of whom 5,561 were charged in court, 6,000 persons rendered homeless, at least 211 vehicles and 753 buildings were destroyed or damaged.

Following this, Malaysian government embarked on an affirmative action policy, the New Economic Policy, to uplift the economic standards of the Malays, which objectives have been kept in place up to today.

Yesterday in the Dewan Negara, three senators have called for the book to be banned.

In response, Deputy Internal Security Minister Fu Ah Kiow today said that the ministry would study the contents of the book and take action soon, according to the evening edition of China Press today.

Related reports
Unveiling the May 13 riots


■日期/May 15, 2007   ■时间/09:46:32 pm
■新闻/家国风云   ■作者/Merdekareview记者
【本刊记者撰述】国内安全部今天派出一组官员到吉隆坡谷中城(Midvalley)的MPH书局充公新纪元学院院长、人权工作者柯嘉逊的新著《513 – 1969年暴动之解密文件》(May 13 – Declassified Documents on the Malaysia Riots of 1969),并向该书局发出公函,劝告他们勿公开摆卖本书。根据《当今大马》报道,国安部发给MPH书局的公函宣称,该部扣押柯嘉逊的新著,是因为该书被怀疑是一本可能会在1984年印刷机与出版法令第七条款下被查禁的书籍。




本书前天在吉隆坡举行新书发表会,作者柯嘉逊呼吁我国政府成立独立的“还原513事件真相”委员会,展开公开听证会收集目击者的口供和看法,还原这个历史事迹的真相。【点击:513事件是推翻东姑政变 学者促政府还原历史真相】




与此同时,副国安部长胡亚桥今天在上议院总结感谢最高元首施政御词时透露,国安部将尽快研究《513 – 1969年暴动之解密文件》的内容,并采取适当行动。


巫统党籍的上议员赛阿里阿巴斯(Syed Ali Syed Abbas)和莎丽法阿兹莎(Sharifah Azizah)昨天在上议院放话要政府查禁《513 – 1969年暴动之解密文件》及对付作者柯嘉逊。【点击:批柯嘉逊新著不符官方说法 上议员要政府查禁对付作者】

至本文截稿时,《独立新闻在线》仍无法联络上《513 – 1969年暴动之解密文件》的总代理文运企业的负责人。

点击购买《513 – 1969年暴动之解密文件》

May 13: A coup to oust Tunku

May 13, 2007
I bought some copies at the book launch this morning. The declassified documents were sufficient to help readers to understand what has taken place in 1969. But I was a little disappointed that there was no solid and concrete records on the actual number of casualties (total deaths and injuries).

The publisher of the book, Suaram, has suggested to establish a commission of truth to get to the bottom of the May 13 Incident.

Both panelists (Dr Syed Husin Ali and Dr S Nagarajan) agreed with the findings and conclusion made by Dr Kua Kia Soong, that May 13 was not a spontaneous racial outburst but a coup staged by the Malay ultras at that time.

The biggest beneficiary of May 13 was Razak. He practically controlled the country through the National Operation Council (NOC), the new powerhouse of politics in Malaysia. 

Who were those involved besides Razak? Tunku himself has alleged : ” You know Harun was one of those-Harun, Mahathir, Ghazali Shafie-who were all working with Razak to oust me, to take over my place…”

I foresee that this book will inevitably kick up a storm in the national political arena. Umno is now under pressure to explain its role during the darkest hours of our nation. Umno leaders who were being mentioned in the book would most likely be the first to rebut vehemently (or at least give their sides of the story). 

The 134-page book was sold at only RM20 per copy. Grab a copy before it was banned by the Umno-led BN goverment.


■日期/May 13, 2007   ■时间/03:28:24 pm
■新闻/家国风云   ■作者/ 陈慧思
【本刊陈慧思撰述】在“513事件”遭“神话”了整整38年的今日,学者兼民权工作者柯嘉逊试图还原“513事件”的真相,为这个困扰我国各族人民38年的历史事迹去神话。发生在1969年5月13日的“513事件”38年来被官方定论为“种族冲突事件”,柯嘉逊(右图)根据史料挑战这项说法。他根据英国解密史料分析出,这宗困扰改变我国政治生态的历史大事件并非一起种族冲突事件,而是一起巫统精英策谋的政变!鉴于官方说法已经站不住脚,马来西亚人民之声(Suara Malaysia,简称“SUARAM”)和柯嘉逊呼吁我国政府成立独立的“还原513事件真相”委员会,展开公开听证会收集目击者的口供和看法,还原这个历史事迹的真相。柯嘉逊从伦敦西郊国立植物公园(Kew Gardens)的公共档案舘发掘了一批解密文件;这批解密文件显示,“513事件”并非突发事件,反之是一次有计划的行动,目的是推翻第一任首相东姑阿都拉曼(Tunku Abdul Rahman)的政权。


配合“513事件”的周年日,马来西亚人民之声(Suara Malaysia,简称“SUARAM”)今日上午在隆雪中华大会堂,为柯逊博士新著《513 – 1969年暴动之解密文件》举办推介礼暨举办“回顾513事件:独立后的种族关系与国家团结”讲座会,邀请柯嘉逊、学者兼人民公正党署理主席赛胡先阿里(Syed Husin Ali)和学者那卡拉贞主讲,吸引约120人与会。


柯嘉逊指出,“513事件”是新兴马來官僚资产阶级推翻马來贵族阶层的政变;依照东姑阿都拉曼的说法,政变的主事人很可能就是当时的副首相阿都拉萨(Abdul Razak)和雪兰莪州州务大臣哈伦依特里斯(Harun Idris),其同谋尚包括了在位22年的前首相马哈迪。

马来亚大学前社会学教授的赛胡先(Syed Husin Ali)和甘榜美丹事件研究学者纳嘉拉贞(S. Nagarajan)皆认同,“513事件”乃一起由巫统内部斗争所策划的事件,甚于一起民间种族情绪高涨所引发的暴动。





柯嘉逊是在其新书《513 – 1969年暴动之解密文件》(左图)中作出上述披露。他在书中把“513事件”喻为“关鍵性的政治起义”。他指出:“它改变了马来西亚政治史,确保新兴马來资产阶级的崛起,并通过‘新经济政策’,鞏固他们的政治势力。”










Book launch and Forum on May 13

May 12, 2007

Book Launch and Public Forum: “May 13 – Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969”  

Sunday May 13 2007 @ 10am-12pm @ Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese  Assembly Hall

Organised by Suaram

07年5月11日 晚上9:41 Malaysiakini





























不过,被询及是否担忧有关当局将会采取类似宣布描述甘榜美丹(Kampung Medan)械斗事件一书《3月8日》为禁书的手段来禁止其新著的流传时,柯嘉逊丝毫不畏惧地表示,“在网络时代,禁书还有什么意思?我们可以把它放在网上流传,你根本无法做什么。”

May 13: A coup d’etat

May 11, 2007
Declassified documents have shown that May 13 was not a spontaneous racial riot; it was a political plot planned by certain Umno leaders to oust Tunku Abdul Rahman. According to a reliable source, the MCA leadership was alerted by its partner in the Alliance coalition about the incident before hand and its headquarters in Jalan Ampang Kuala Lumpur was ordered to shut down on Friday May 13 and the entire staff were sent to Fraser Hill for a short ‘vacation’. 

All these years, the opposition parties have been accused by the authority as the responsible party for the riots but the authority has no proofs whatsoever to support their claim. I have written several statements in the past to defend the opposition when the opposition was under attacked.

Congratulations to Dr Kua for his new book. Malaysians have the right to know the truth about the ‘darkest hours of our nationhood’.

Unveiling the ‘May 13’ riots

Beh Lih Yi
May 11, 07 12:52pm
“While people were still assembling for this parade, trouble broke out in the nearby Malay section of Kampung Baru, where two Chinese lorries were burnt…By 7.15pm, I could see the mobs swarming like bees at the junction of Jalan Raja Muda and Batu Road. More vehicles were smashed and Chinese shophouses set on fire.The Chinese and Indian shopkeepers of Batu Road formed themselves into a ‘district defence force’ armed with whatever they find – parangs, poles, iron bars and bottles…When the Malay invading force withdrew as quickly as it had arrived, the residents took their revenge. Shop-fronts and cars suspected of being Malay-owned were smashed or burnt…The police arrived at about 9pm but did not remain in the area. Later, truck-loads of Federal Reserve Units (riot squads) and the Royal Malay Regiment drove past…”(Excerpts taken from a dispatch by Far Eastern Economic Review correspondent Bob Reece narrating his eyewitness account on May 13, 1969 after a group of young Malays gathered outside the Selangor Menteri Besar Harun Idris’ residence in late afternoon)

It has been almost four decades since the May 13 racial riots broke out.

What had prompted the worst riots in Malaysia’s 50-year history that cost the lives of 196 persons (according to official records) however remained shrouded under a veil of secrecy, although there are several versions on the matter so far.

The ‘official version’ of it has always been the violence was triggered off by the Chinese-dominated opposition supporters’ provocation in celebrating their electoral victory which saw the ruling Alliance Party suffered a major setback.

‘Full of nonsense’

This version, however was consistently rebutted by the opposition group who claimed otherwise. Other theories also suggested that the riots was rather a planned attack to oust then premier Tunku Abdul Rahman.

The lack of accessible information in the public domain has been a stumbling block for those who intend to uncover the episode but a set of newly-declassified documents in London gave sociologist Dr Kua Kia Soong a thorough glimpse of the event.

Late last year, the principal of New Era College took a three-month sabbatical leave to the Public Records Office in London to study records and declassified documents on the May 13 incident after a 30-year secrecy rule over these documents lapse.

His findings based on the declassified documents – which have been compiled into a new book to be launched on Sunday – found the entire May 13 riots were by no means a spontaneous outburst of racial violence, as it has been portrayed to the Malaysian public.

“The (official) history of May 13 is full of nonsense, it doesn’t reveal anything. It pins the blame on the opposition party which was not true, they were not the responsible party,” Kua told malaysiakini in a recent interview.

“My book shows the responsible party were those ascendent state capitalist class (in Umno), elements within that gave rise and implemented this plan. There was a plan based on the people who assembled at the (Selangor) menteri besar’s house.

“There are correspondences and intelligence reports which showed that. Official history has to reveal that truth and not to pin the blame on everybody around who are not to be blamed,” the educationist and social activist stressed.

Kua maintained the May 13 incident was a coup d’etat against the Tunku by the then emergent Malay state capitalists – backed by the police and army – to seize control of the reign of power from the old aristocrats to implement the new Malay agenda.

A plot to oust Tunku

He opined the riots were works of “Malay thugs” orchestrated by politicians behind the coup.

For instance, he said the “group of hoodlums suddenly appeared from all over the place” on the day of May 13 to gather at Harun’s residence and the questionable conduct of the police and army to just stood by and watch.

He added that documents showed less than a week after the riots, then deputy premier Tun Abdul Razak who headed the National Operations Council was already in full control of the country – an indication that there had been a plot.

On top of that, discussions for future plans had already been carried out.

“For example the National Cultural Policy (announced in 1971) burst in the 80s, it was already been thought of one week after (the May 13 incident),” Kua noted, referring to the controversial policy which placed emphasis on the ‘indigenous culture’ and Islam.

A secret document from the British cabinet office featured in the book showed that barely a week after the riots broke out, the Central Intelligence Agency had figured out what Tun Razak was planning – “to formalise Malay dominance, sideline the Chinese and shelve the Tunku”.

The role of the security forces in the May 13 bloodshed was also questioned in Kua’s findings.

“Even at that time, people in the diplomatic core (were wondering) how come the day the riot broke out, Razak met with the chiefs of the police and army but they did not do anything,” he said.

Interestingly, Kua pointed out the Malaysian security forces had been tested and tried during the war against the communist insurgency between 1948 and 1960 and earned their reputation.

“They are one of the most effective in putting down the communist insurrection that is a far, far more difficult operation than putting down riot, but they could not put down (such riot) in 1969 for days, for weeks,” he questioned.

It thus brought to Kua’s conclusion: “The May 13 was a pretext for staging that coup… I am not the first person who said it was a coup d’etat but I am providing the documents to show how it was a coup d’etat.”

Exact fatality number unknown

The declassified documents have included reports fielded by foreign correspondents who were in Kuala Lumpur at the time, dispatches by the British High Commission personnel who closely followed the event and various other confidential reports from the diplomat circle.

It is considerably the first time a complete recount of the tragedy is made available to the Malaysian public, as many foreign correspondent reports were previously banned while local documents are inaccessible.

However, what could not be established in the book is another secrecy, the real number of deaths.

Official figures said the May 13 riots claimed 196 lives, 180 were wounded by firearms and 259 by other weapons, 9,143 persons were arrested out of whom 5,561 were charged in court, 6,000 persons rendered homeless, at least 211 vehicles and 753 buildings were destroyed or damaged.

The declassified documents and international correspondents at the time nevertheless have calculated a much higher number of fatalities but an exact number could not be ascertained, although it was common knowledge the victims are majority ethnic Chinese.

Kua said it is his hope to smash two myths with the publication of the book.

“One is racial riot will occur when the Malays are not happy, that’s why you need the New Economic Policy, affirmative action policy et cetera, otherwise the Malays will be unhappy and there will be riot.

“This is the first myth we should dismantle as documents showed some people were involved in making it (the May 13) happened with the connivance of the police and army,” he stressed.

The second myth, Kua said, is academicians and pluralist theorists who uphold the views that riots and conflicts will occur naturally in multi-racial country.

“I am questioning this. The role of the state is very important at a particular historical conjuncture. Malays, Chinese and Indians don’t suddenly decide to fight in conflict, it doesn’t happen like that,” he said.

Asked on whether there is any fear that the authorities might move to ban the publication of the book, as in the case of a recent ban slapped on a book about the Kampung Medan clashes, Kua responded:

“In the age of the internet, what does banning a book mean? We can put it on the Web, you can’t do anything.”

‘May 13’: The first credible account

What actually happened during the 1969 riots
May 11, 07 1:11pm Malaysiakini
The series of events surrounding the ‘May 13’ riot has been documented by Dr Kua Kia Soong in his latest book May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969 which will be launched on Sunday in conjunction with the 38th anniversary of the tragedy.This compilation, based on various sets of foreign dispatches and confidential reports at the time – which were declassified recently and made available at the Public Records Office in London – has been dubbed as the first credible account on the incident.

“The real circumstances surrounding the worst racial riot in the history of Malaysia have so far not been made available to the Malaysian public. The official version is fraught with contradictions and inadequacies to which few pay credence,” Kua wrote in the book.

Below are excerpts and summary of the chronology of events based on the declassified documents taken from Kua’s book:

May 10:

The ruling Alliance Party suffered a major setback in the general election although it had managed to retain a simple parliamentary majority. They had lost Penang to the Gerakan Party; Kelantan to the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party while Perak and Selangor were at the brink of falling into the opposition’s hands.

May 11 and May 12:

On both nights, the opposition celebrated their victory. A large Gerakan procession was held to welcome the left-wing Gerakan leader V David back from winning the federal seat in Penang.

May 13:

The MCA which had suffered badly at the polls, announced that it would withdraw from the cabinet while remaining within the Alliance.

A dispatch from a foreign correspondent showed it is evident that there was a plan for youths mobilised by Umno elements to assemble at then Selangor menteri besar Harun Idris’ residence in the late afternoon. A retaliatory march had been planned although police permission was withheld.

When people were still assembling for the parade, trouble broke out in the nearby Malay section of Kampung Baru, where two Chinese lorries were burnt. The ensuing carnage at Kampung Baru and Batu Road quickly spread elsewhere in Kuala Lumpur.

The foreign correspondent noted the curfew that was imposed was not fairly applied to all.

“In the side streets off Jalan Hale, I could see bands of Malay youths armed with parangs and sharpened bamboo spears assembled in full view of troops posted at road junctions. Meanwhile, at Batu Road, a number of foreign correspondents saw members of the Royal Malay Regiment firing into Chinese shophouses for no apparent reason.”

Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman immediately attributed the violence as triggered off by the behaviour of opposition supporters after the election result announcement while his deputy Tun Abdul Razak pinned the blame on the communists.

May 14:

The riots continued but on a smaller scale. The curfew was only lifted in staggered hours in various districts to allow people to buy food. The police called out all possible reserves and handed over the northern part of the city to the army.

Police put casualties for the previous night incident at 44 killed and about 150 injured. Another dispatch showed the casualties were mainly Chinese as it stated that out of 77 corpses in the morgue of the General Hospital on May 14, at least 60 were Chinese.

The government’s attempts to blame the communists for the riots were however not taken seriously by the officials at the British High Commission (BHC) who could see that the Tunku was not prepared to blame his own people for the riots, nor was he going to blame it on the Chinese “as a whole”.

May 15:

The King proclaimed a state of emergency. The National Operations Council headed by Tun Razak was formed. Tun Razak was still responsible to the Tunku, but all the powers under Emergency Regulations were vested in him.

The curfew had been lifted temporarily in Kuala Lumpur that morning but the situation had rapidly worsened and more sporadic fighting had broken out. Curfews were re-imposed but food was very short.

The local press was suspended until censorship regulations could be drawn up but no attempt was made to supervise reports sent out by foreign correspondents.

May 16:

The situation was still tense in Selangor with cars and houses being burned and fatalities rising. Death tolls had risen to 89 with over 300 injured. 24 hour curfew remained in force in Selangor and had also been imposed in Malacca. In Penang and Perak, the situation had improved although the curfew remained in force.

Tunku made a broadcast in which he announced the setting up of a National Defence Force to be manned by volunteers. The new information minister Hamzah Abu Samah and Tun Razak gave a press conference pinning the blame for the riots on communist infiltration of the opposition parties.

There were reports of looting by the largely Malay military and their bias against the Chinese Malaysians. Number of refugees were increasing.

May 17:

There were skepticism among British officers toward the official figures for fatalities and the preponderance of Chinese casualties among the dead. The police estimated the deaths at about 100 now while British officers estimated the proportion of Chinese to Malay casualties is about 85:15.

The press censorship invited criticism not only from the local press but also in diplomatic circles especially when official statements lacked clarity and credibility.

In a confidential BHC memorandum to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the coup d’etat has been acknowledged and it has effected the transfer of power not only to “Malay hands” but also to the security forces. The latter’s professionalism is questioned.

The BHC also noted the Federal Reserve Unit, which at the time was multiracial in composition, was the more impartial of the security forces while the Malay troops were discriminatory in enforcing the curfew.

“Discriminatory takes the form, for example, of not, repeat not, enforcing the curfew in one of the most violently disposed of the Malay areas in Kuala Lumpur (Kampung Baru) where Malays armed with parangs, etc continue to circulate freely; with the inevitable result that gangs slip through the cordon round the area and attack Chinese outside it. In Chinese areas, the curfew is strictly enforced.”

May 18:

The Tunku qualified his earlier assertion that the disturbances were caused by communists, putting the blame instead on assorted “bad elements”. He also announced the deferment of the Sarawak elections and the continuance of the restrictions on the movement of foreign journalists.

The situation was still unsettled in some parts of the capital city.

May 19:

Less than a week after the riots, the reins of power had effectively passed to Tun Razak, indicating that there had been a plot to bring about the coup d’etat.“The exact relationship between Tun Razak and the Tunku is not clear. In public Tun Razak says he is directly responsible to the Tunku but he has made it clear privately that he is completely in charge of the country. This could mean the beginning of a process of withdrawal by the Tunku as an effective PM”.

There are some 10,000 reported refugees. The local press was allowed to publish under censorship while foreign journalists had their curfew passes withdrawn. Some opposition politicians were arrested.

May 20:

In a meeting, an Australian High Commissioner had suggested the opposition leaders should be given a role as peace maker but Tun Razak and Ghazali Shafie were firmly against this. “They considered opposition leaders would simply use such an opportunity to promote their own political views.”

The Malaysian Red Cross Society is continuing its daily feeding programme for refugees in various places and over 5,000 had received food supplies.

May 21:

The official statistics of casualties at this juncture were 137 killed (18 Malays), 342 injured, 109 vehicles burned, 118 buildings destroyed and 2,912 persons arrested who were mostly curfew breakers.

May 23:

The declassified documents reveal that Malay troops were not only fraternising with the Malay thugs but were discharging their firearms indiscriminately at Chinese shophouses as they went through the city.

“When confronted by foreign correspondents with reports of racial discrimination, Tun Razak flatly denied them. Following this, curfew passes issued to foreign journalists were withdrawn and reporters were ordered to remain indoors ‘for their own safety’.”

A foreign correspondent’s report showed the Malay hooligans were detested by the law-abiding Malays of Kampung Baru.

Internal security and home minister Tun Dr Ismail indicated that the Internal Security Act would be in future amended to “counter changing communist tactics”. It was disclosed that of the 3,699 arrested during the crisis, 952 were members of secret societies.

May 24:

Law and order has been re-established in Kuala Lumpur and the atmosphere in the town had improved. People were going back to work (in non-curfew hours) and the government offices were limbering into action. The curfew remained in force (from 3pm to 6.30am of the following day). The government was not ready to admit that it was armed Malay youth who had caused the disturbances.

May 27:

The Tunku was under pressure to resign as he was clearly incensed by foreign journalists’ speculations about his weakening position and got his private secretary to write a protest note to the BHC.

May 28:

A confidential report by the BHC to the FCO on this day observed the government’s attempts to blame the communists for the disturbances were an attempt to justify their new authoritarian powers.


The riots had been under control but they were still sporadic outbreaks of civil disturbances. A BHC report noted violence erupted again in one part of Kuala Lumpur on the night of June 28 and 29, a number of houses were burnt and the casualties were officially given as five killed and 25 injured. Some disturbances toward the end of June also involved ethnic Indians.


Renewed trouble in which one policeman was killed was quickly stopped from spreading in Kuala Lumpur by positive police action.

Tun Ismail’s firm stand in ordering the security forces to act firmly ‘without favour or discrimination’ to any communal group and the Tunku’s announcement of a National Goodwill Committee made up of politicians of all parties went some way toward allaying the fears of the people.

Tun Ismail also revealed the total arrests since May now stood at 8,114, comprising people “from all the major racial groups”. Of these, 4,192 had been charged in court, 675 released on bail, 1,552 unconditionally released and 1,695 preventively detained.

Situation in the Peninsula had improved substantially but tension remains high in sensitive areas of Malacca, Perak and Selangor.

Tension had begun to ease until Malay agitation connected with Tunku’s return to a position of influence and the removal of Dr Mahathir Mohamad from Umno’s general committee on July 12 had heightened it again. Malay university students petitioned for Tunku’s resignation and demonstrated on the campus.

Unveiling the ‘May 13’ riots