Umno used the May 13, 1969 racial riots to remind the Chinese and non-Malays not to question 'Ketuanan Melayu' and antagonise the Malays.
Today is the anniversary of our darkest days. Not a day for celebrations but a day to reflect when many lives were lost and our nation was confronted with its worst nightmare of having its own people turning against each other for no other reasons but race.
Today it is inconceivable to think that you may be killed simply because you are at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Kampung Baru was the wrong place for a Chinese to be on May 13th in 1969. Just as a Malay had better not be around Chow Kit during the same time.
Today we ask how is it that people will kill another human being because he or she is of a different race?
Mind you, they did kill people at random and chopped them up into pieces. And mobs of people did roam the strees of Kuala Lumpur armed with any weapons they could lay their hands on to carry out these murderous deeds.
It was as if Malaysians have gone mad with hatred for each other. But have we really learned any lessons from the May 13, 1969 racial riots?
I lived through these times and memories of what happened then and the emotional scars left in my mind still haunts me today.
I still meet people who bought houses at bargain basement prices from Chinese who no longer wanted to live around Kampung Baru.
I know of Malays who were with Dato Harun (Idris) that fateful day in Kampung Baru. They speak to me of those times in hushed tones and only amongst trusted friends – and talk of those times as if they had undergone a rite of passage that forever defined them as ‘that’ group of Malays that had made “Ketuanan Melayu” possible.
43 years of negativity
For the non-Malays who were caught up in the mayhem and terror of those killing days, it was a time for despair and helplessness for they knew that those who were in a position to help them most were mostly Malays.
And in those troubled times, to trust any other race but your own was difficult to do.
Today it might be impossible to believe that Malaysians are capable of such murderous deeds but May 13th did happened.
We all still live under the threat that race may again be the reason to kill another Malaysian if the lessons learnt from that murderous day in our history are not taken to heart.
But does the Umno-led Barisan Nasional government understand this? Internal conflicts that a nation faces usually have a way leading them to maturity.
But sadly our government have used the lessons learned during the May 13 racial conflict to arm themselves with negativity.
To Umno, the May 13 racial riots was “manna” from heaven – a God given opportunity that they have abused and used to impose their will upon all of us – Malays and non-Malays and we are bearing the brunt of these excesses today.
Umno warning to non-Malays
Where we should have learned to understand and tolerate each other’s strength and weaknesses, Umno instead chose to accentuate these strength and weaknesses and cocoon the Malays in their own racial zone making them unable or unwilling to live in harmony with others.
Where we should use the racial riots as the reason to not allow any more killings of our own people to happen again under any circumstances – Umno has used the May 13 racial riots to remind the Chinese and non-Malays not to question ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ and antagonise the Malays.
This Umno-led government has used the May 13 racial riot as an excuse to limit all manner of civil liberties from its people – Malays and non-Malays – on the grounds of national security.
Since 1969, this Umno-led Barisan Nasional government has relentlessly taken the odious opportunity of imposing their total will upon the population of this nation – not for the common good of the people but in order for them to plunder and pillage our nation to its bare bones.
So is it any wonder that this Umno led Barisan Nasional government will again look back to that May 13 incident as a means of holding on to political power if they lose it at the 13th general election?
CT Ali is a reformist who believes in Pakatan Rakyat’s ideologies. He is a FMT columnist.