In my posting The Real Cause of the May 13 Riots I mentioned:
“The Selangor UMNO could not cope with the thought of losing Malaysia’s premier state (at that time) to the Chinese-Indian parties. When the Selangor State election results became more obvious, there was already discussion of how to accommodate a non-Muslim Menteri Besar (MB or Chief Minister) in Selangor, because one of the principal roles of a MB is to advise the Sultan of the State on religious affairs. Those issues would undoubtedly have infuriated some Malays.”
“The Perikatan had already lost Penang to the new rising star …….. judging by the (1969) voting trend, UMNO perceived that by the next election, it would probably lose Perak as well.”
“The UMNO members’ anger was further aggravated by some thoughtless jeering by the DAP-Gerakan party victors in Selangor as they conducted their jubilant victory motorcade around Kuala Lumpur (though the leaders of the Gerakan Party made a public apology the following day). That anger at the unthinkable loss of Malaysia's premier State to a Chinese-dominated party and the jibes and jeering by an insensitive DAP were what lit the racial fire, and not the socio-economic inequality.”
In the last paragraph it now seems I had been wrong in attributing the DAP with responsibility for the provocation (“…jibes and jeering by an insensitive DAP …”) that further stroked the racial fire.
Associated with a new subject for university students called Ethnic Relations, there is a textbook that purportedly offers important lessons on what not to do when trying to foster inter-communal ties.
But a coalition of students’ groups - Students Solidarity Malaysia (SMM) - said the book appears to be burning rather than building bridges between the communities.
In its references to instances of ethnic conflicts, for example, the May 13, 1969 riots, the book singled out opposition party DAP as a Chinese-majority party that had ‘upset the Malays’ and contributed to the conflagration that occurred. The textbook read:
“...the DAP, which is made up mostly of Chinese, conducted a procession in Kuala Lumpur in which they insulted and uttered statements that upset the Malays.”
In its reference to the 2001 Kampung Medan incident, the textbook also blamed Indian youths as one of the factors.
“The Malay community in the said area had lost their patience with the anti-social attitude of groups of Indian youths and wanted to teach them a lesson ...”
Prof Dr Khoo Kay Kim, a historian and also Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) commissioner pointed out that in fact it was BN coalition member Gerakan and not DAP which had participated in the procession in Kuala Lumpur's Kampung Baru that triggered the 1969 riots.
Well, how about that? I knew the Gerakan had participated in the motorcade through Kampung Baru but I wasn’t aware the DAP hadn’t. So the DAP has to play the role of the villain when it was the Gerakan who were jeering and hurling jibes in Kampung Baru.
Professor Khoo said this was another instance where the objectives of the textbook were lost due to the ‘blame-game’ played by its writers.
“You’re again blaming people. So how can you hope to bring people together? It would be better to say there was a misunderstanding on both sides. A book like that will cause no end to the damage.”
Well, the way I see it: firstly. it’s hardly likely that UMNO would admit to its role in the May 13 riots for the reason I had blogged in The Real Cause of the May 13 Riots.
Secondly, it’s a typical (traditional) Malay worldview that one can see in the earlier local movies – namely, the Malays are a very patient forgiving type (Pak Cik Ahmad Daud, dressed up immaculatedly & complete with spotted neck scarf, sitting in an easy arm chair smoking his pipe and pontificating seriously and wisely) and very reluctant to retaliate, while the Chinese have always been portrayed as an avaricious and raucous ethnic community (fat Chinaman sweating in singlet wheeling and dealing with a dodgy Chinese weight measuring tool) and the Indians as unreliable or at best, court jesters.
Views have changed since but whoever is promoting that book of burning bridges must be from an earlier school of thoughts – blame the Chinese and Indians as they are known trouble-makers!