Kit Siang says he is not to be blamed for or was not involved in the race riots of 13th May 1969 because he was not in Kuala Lumpur but was in Kota Kinabalu on that day. That is like saying Trotsky is not to be blamed for or was not involved in the Russian Revolution because he was in New York and was not in St Petersburg on the day the Tsar was ousted.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Kit Siang and Karpal in the early days
Leon Trotsky was overseas in exile when the Russian Revolution exploded in February 1917. He did not return to Russia until three months later in May. Can Trotsky say he is not to be blamed or played no part in the Revolution since he was not in Russia when it happened?
In fact, 15 years before that, in 1902, Trotsky ran away to London where he joined the Socialist Democratic Party, which was when he first met Vladimir Lenin. On 15th March 1917, Trotsky was in New York when Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate. After the Bolsheviks took control of the Soviet government, Lenin ordered the formation of the Red Army and appointed Trotsky as its leader.
Anyway, that is not what we want to talk about today. What we want to discuss is Lim Kit Siang’s statement that he was in Kota Kinabalu on 13th May 1969 and hence he cannot be blamed for ‘May 13’ since he was not in Kuala Lumpur on the day it happened.
If you are a student of history you will know that the Russian Revolution did not start in February 1917 itself. It actually started 12 years before that on 22nd January 1905. A series of events over those 12 years brought it to a head until February 1917 when it exploded.
DAP’s election campaign was abolish Article 153 and kick the Malays out of the towns and cities and send them back to the kampungs
The same with ‘May 13’. The ‘May 13’ incident did not start on 13th May 1969. It may have exploded on 13th May 1969 but it built up through a series of events leading to May 1969. And the ‘May 13’ incident itself was actually triggered on 10th May 1969, when Kit Siang was shuttling between Melaka and Kuala Lumpur.
The opposition-organised demonstration in front of the USIS where one Chinese demonstrator was shot dead by a panicking Malay policeman. The huge funeral procession that was turned into an anti-government rally. The killing of a Malay warden by 11 Chinese in Pudu Jail. The anti-Malay demonstration in front of Pudu Jail. The Prime Minister’s decision to commute the death sentence for the 11 Chinese who killed the Malay warden due to pressure from the Chinese opposition party.
These and many more incidences such as those built up the anti-Malay momentum that led to ‘May 13’. And the election campaign in the months leading to the 10th May 1969 general election was most nasty and fiery where the Chinese were asked to kick the Malays out of the towns and cities and send them back to the kampungs. And, of course, the opposition-organised post-election rallies that turned into anti-Malay rallies made sure that ‘May 13’ would happen.
Mahathir blamed the Tunku for allowing the Chinese too much face until they had become ‘too much’
This was what Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wrote to Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman on 17th June 1969:
You yourself told me that you have prevented a riot by commuting the death sentence of the 11 subversive Chinese. In truth this very action sparked the riots of 13 May, which resulted in the deaths of many, many more.
That was why the Chinese and the Indians behaved outrageously toward the Malays on 12th May. If you had been spit in the face, called dirty names and shown obscene gestures and private parts, then you could understand how the Malays felt. The Malays whom you thought would never rebel went berserk, and they hate you for giving (the Chinese) too much face.
So, ‘May 13’ did not happen on 13th May 1969 when Kit Siang said he was not in Kuala Lumpur but was in Kota Kinabalu. In fact, Kit Siang was not the only person who ran away from Kuala Lumpur and went into hiding on 13th May 1969. According to the late MGG Pillai, on 13th May 1969 Kuala Lumpur was ‘deserted’. All the who’s-who from both sides of the political divide had left Kuala Lumpur and had gone into hiding. They had known 24 hours before that that ‘May 13’ was going to happen.
MGG said he found it very puzzling. Where had everyone gone to? Why was everyone away all at the same time? Late that evening MGG found out why and he put two and two together and deduced that they had been warned about the impending riots and had been advised to leave Kuala Lumpur and to go into hiding some place safe.
The three days Malay-bashing orgy organised by the opposition triggered ‘May 13’
The opposition leaders, too, were warned 24 hours earlier that race riots were about to explode on 13th May 1969. They were also told that the riots were in response to the provocation by the Chinese and Indians from 10th to 12th May 1969. During those three days the non-Malays had gone too far and had pushed the Malays to the edge with their taunts and insults and now the Malays were out of control.
There are always consequences to your actions. And the events of 13th May 1969 were the consequences to the events from 10th to 12th May. Some say Umno could have always controlled the explosion. The problem is if Umno tried to stifle the explosion then it would have imploded instead, like what Mahathir told the Tunku. And the reason is because there were some within Umno who today are Kit Siang’s and DAP’s very good friends who were playing the role of agitator and agent provocateur.
One such agitator and agent provocateur, Mahathir, showed his hand when the following month he asked that MCA be kicked out of the ruling coalition. As far as Mahathir was concerned there should be no Chinese participation whatsoever in the government. The Chinese should be sidelined and treated as second-class citizens with no political representation in the government.
Siew Sin and MCA took the opposite stand to Kit Siang and DAP regarding Article 153 and Malay privileges
This was what was reported by the mainstream media on 5th June 1969:
According to Mahathir, the support given to Tun Tan Siew Sin by the Chinese chambers of commerce and other Chinese organisations could not be taken as support from the Chinese community as a whole to MCA because those organisations did not represent the desires of the Chinese community as a whole.
“If MCA wants to know whether they have the support of the Chinese, they have to wait for the next general election. Since this will take quite some time, it is no longer necessary for MCA to remain in the Cabinet,” he emphasised. Mahathir also said that MIC’s position in the Cabinet should also be reconsidered.
In a Press Statement released by Umno’s Secretary General, Senu Abdul Rahman, reported by the Utusan Melayu on 6th June 1969, it said:
Mahathir Mohamad ceases to be a member of the UMNO Supreme Council with effect from today. This decision was taken following the wide distribution to the public of Mahathir’s letter to Tunku Abdul Rahman, President of Umno Malaysia.
In that letter, Mahathir whacked the Tunku and called him a Chinese lover and said that ‘May 13’ was the result of the Chinese not knowing their place and for being too arrogant and insulting towards the Malays. In short, the Chinese deserved what they received and even then that was still very mild and they should have been punished even worse.
Do you think Kit Siang is ignorant about all this? Kit Siang is not just not ignorant but he knows about the role of the ‘Young Turks’ in triggering ‘May 13’ — although it was triggered in response to what the Chinese and Indians did from 10th to 12th May.
And one of the leading ‘Young Turks’ who was later sacked from Umno is Kit Siang’s bedfellow, Mahathir, the man who said that Kit Siang is the number one racist in Malaysia.
Kit Siang’s excuse that he was in Kota Kinabalu and not in Kuala Lumpur on the 13th of May 1969 is a silly argument that may work on a lower primary school child. Trotsky was also not in St Petersburg when the Russian Revolution exploded. But the entire world credits the Revolution to Trotsky just like May 13 can be ‘credited’ to Kit Siang and Mahathir, two people who used to hate each other for almost 50 years and now are sleeping in the same bed because both are united by mutual self-interest — both want to save their sons.
What would Karpal Singh have said if he were still alive today? Well, this video can probably give you a good idea: