Monday, January 09, 2006

The Real Cause of the May 13 Riots

A guest writer over at Malaysia-Today blog, Nurihsan Majid in an article titled Time for a non-race based agenda, which basically is a political plug for the PKR approach towards the National Economic Policy (NEP), wrote the following:

“The NEP was launched to remedy the socio-economic inequality that led to the May 13, 1969 racial riots.”

Well, that’s patently incorrect!

While socio-economic inequality regretably did exist, what had led to the May 13 racial riot was not that. It was true that the Malays grew disenchanted with then Prime Minister Tengku Abdul Rahman’s Perikatan (Alliance) party, resulting in massive losses for his coalition.

The true reason leading to the riots was the ruling Perikatan party, or to be more specific, its dominant component, UMNO, losing so many seats that it was on the verge of surrendering Selangor to the DAP, and very nearly losing Perak to the PPP of the Seenivasegam brothers.

That was what caused the riots!

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, the (then) mighty Gerakan Party. But, unlike Selangor, Penang had always been a Chinese-majority state, so its loss was not so sensitive to Malay pride. Also, 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 jeerings by an insensitive DAP-Gerakan were what lit the racial fire, and not the socio-economic inequality.

After-note: since then, recent facts revealed by Prof Khoo indicate that it was not the DAP but the Gerakan Party which did the provocative jeering

The racial-political tension in Selangor then was like, to use a cliché, sitting on a powder keg of explosives in tinder dry conditions while attempting to light a cigarette. Two days after the final results were determined, the riots started in Kampong Baru, Kuala Lumpur, right in front of the MB's official residence after incorrect (or fabricated) rumours that Chinese gangs in Setapak had attacked Malays.

Apart from UMNO losing support from its Malay constituencies, how did the opposition do so well?

In the 1969 election, the opposition parties comprising DAP, Gerakan, PPP, and PAS (yes, PAS) developed a joint double-prong strategy where (1) they avoided running against each other in order to prevent vote splitting, and (2) campaigned for each other, asking their supporters to vote for anyone other than the Perikatan. Many Malays had voted for the Gerakan because (at that time) it was truly a multi-ethnic party.

Digressing for a while, compare that opposition unified election strategy and discipline in adhering to the plan with the 2004 opposition debacle, where an overconfident PAS wanted to go it alone while a wishy washy PKR wasn't sure where to put its best foot forward. To make matters worse, the Chinese-Indian component of PKR tussled with the DAP for Chinese seats.

I believe the DAP was actually sincere in wanting a coalition with PAS and PKR because Lim Kit Siang was (still is) obsessed with denying the Barisan Nasional its two-third majority, and that could only be achieved if the opposition parties are united. But with a runaway PAS that was frightening the shit out of its supporters, an annoying Chinese section of PKR trying to wrestle traditional DAP seats away, and remembering its painful lesson in 1999, it wisely (for that election) decided to stick to its usual standalone strategy which of course had a limitation in terms of winning seats.

Anyway, this posting is to set the facts correct about the real cause of the May 13 racial riots in 1969. Even the National Security Commission in its official report on the riots did not attribute the cause to the socio-economic disparity, but to 'the Malayan Communist Party and illegal Chinese gangs'. We need to bear in mind this was a Government report so we shouldn't expect it to say some losers were bloody unsporting.

It resulted in a silent quiet political coup d’etat within the Perikatan party, with Tengku Abdul Rahman removed from power, and the ascendancy of Tun Razak as the next Prime Minister. Because Razak wanted the Malay votes back for the Perikatan he devised the NEP to address the economic position of the Malays. The NEP was in fact based on Dr Mahathir's seminal work
The Malay Dilemma, which proposed a strong affirmative economic programme for Malays to address their disadvantaged socio-economic standing. Tun Razak also brilliantly emasculated the Gerakan, PPP and PAS by absorbing them into a new Barisan Nasional - I'll blog on this another time.

I suppose one could argue through a tenuous chain of cause and effect that at the root of it, the socio-economic disparity led to Perikatan's loss of Malay support, which led to UMNO's massive losses of Federal and State seats (even Dr Mahathir lost his Kota Setar Selatan parliamentary seat to PAS), which led to fear and anger among UMNO members, which coupled by insensitive provocations by the DAP members, led to the outbreak of the riots.

But that would be stretching it. Let’s keep our eye on the fact that it was the pending loss of Malaysia’s premier state of Selangor that triggered the fear, hatred and consequential rioting. In other words the cause was UMNO's inability to tolerate an erosion of its dominant political position. Addressing the socio-economic disparity through the NEP was merely to avoid further loss of its political powers.


  1. Agreed, and I salute your forgiving nature while sympathising with the terrible fate of your sister. My uncle's good friend (Melayu) was bashed at Federal theatre while another uncle (distant relative) was chased by parang wielding hoodlums at Kampong Baru - he escaped on his Honda Cup. Innocents of both sides suffered.

    There were also amazing stories - a Melayu protected his neighbour, a Chinese family in Jalan Perak in Penang, while down south, a Chinese with his family while driving from Ipoh to KL at night, picked up a Malay couple (husband injured) by the roadside to take to hospital - in order to accommodate them in the car, he left two members of his family on the roadside in the middle of nowhere.

    In my Chinese village my family and neighbours looked after a Malay family, who had lived with us for thirty years since my grandfather's days - no one touched them throughout the turbulent period - they were an intrinsic part of our village.

    This posting is not about reliving tragic events - it's to correct the mistaken cause of the riots.

  2. Selfless acts to help a people of another race during a racial riot indicates that Malaysians as a whole do acre for each other. However, the government has made sure that thiese sorts of acts will never happen again with their ethinocentric policies. More than ever Malaysia can be easily manipulated by foreign powers. Look at Iraq'S Sunni rule under Saddam and you will see shades of UMNO rule in it.

  3. Reaping from our painful past brings only sorrow,
    Looking forward no one knows if there is still a tomoro,
    God almighty in all your worldy denominations lead us to your promised salvation, or
    bless us your children, with the courage and wisdom to separate,
    Religions from Politicians.

    Are we blind? deaf? or mute?
    are we poisoned with evil and hatred for one another.
    My name is ah seng, i used to have a good fren called Ali.
    Together with samy, we conquered the river and the haunted house right behind my old sec school.
    Why should we tolerate our differences.. i say we celebrate our differences.
    Fellow malaysians, stand up for your beliefs.
    Do not let injustices pass and never allow anger to harden your hearts.
    make my malaysia beautiful again.

  4. I will use this as my reference motto in my comment - learn from yesterday, live purposely today, plan constructively for tomorrow.

    In my comment, I rather pose questions as I'm not in possesion of any indepth study, personal experience nor any credible data.

    Before I start, I want to state that I'm all for peace and forgiveness, and my intent in commenting is constructive. But I'm not for "let's not talk about this anymore". How are we going to learn what to do, what not to do, if we are not brave enough to study the incident objectively. Is our society so fragile as not to be able to withstand an objective study of this historic fact - the riot did happen, people were killed and there were change of elected governance.

    Firstly, have we learned from the May 13 incident? By "we" I mean the current adult Malaysians. If we have learnt anything, what have we learnt? Has these learnings got any racial trait? For example did the Malaysian Malay learned something different from Malaysian Chinese, and the Malaysian Indians? I remember a chinese taxi driver said something to this effect after the incident -

    "Wah, I first time vote for opposition got riots already. Next time I dare not vote for rocket anymore".

    Was this taxi driver articulating what was felt and learnt by many working class malaysian chinese?

    More fearfully, did we learned that "Winners" (I do not mean any particular race by this word. Simply, the political party that won and the political party that lost)shouldn't "over celebrate", because if they do, the "Losers" may get angry and start riots, after which we get another election, ie.
    IF we lose in a democratic election,
    THEN protest, make trouble
    UNTIL you get another democratic election,
    DO UNTIL we get results that suit us?

    Well, the above is all for learning from yesterday. Let's look at TODAY.

    Are we in a more mature, more racially resilient environment than 1969? In other words, if the ruling party loses the next election, are we definitely, more likely, less likely, or definitely NOT going to experience the same scenario? Has studies been conducted along these lines? Have we taken steps to mitigate such a possibility?

    Moving on, let's pose some questions on TOMORROW. If indeed we did such a study as mentioned above, and find that such a treat still exist in our society, then the question is - what are our plans to improve matters? Are these plans based on social science studies, economic theory, or they are formulated by mere politicians who latter employed some social science PHD to reverse justify their policies?

    I want to end my comments with what I overheard a Indian boy saying to his father. It went something like this -
    Indian Boy - Apah, are we not Indians?
    Indian Father - Yes, of course we are.
    Indian Boy - Then why do we have to apply for Visa to visit India?
    Indian Father - Oh... its because we are Malaysian Indians, and not India Indians.
    Indian Boy - Apah, are we Malaysian first or Indians first?
    Indian father - Of course we are malaysian first, and India just happen to be the place our grandparents came from.

    The same story can be told of the Malaysian Chinese.

    When will we (Malaysian chinese & Malaysian Indians) be considred simply as Malaysians, and be given simply equal rights with other malaysians?

    Comments By
    Batman Awakens

  5. Batman,

    That will happen only when Malays can marry and have kids with Chinese and Indians WITHOUT having the Chinese or Indians convert to Islam.

    Did you know that in Turkey, a true muslim country, Christians and Muslim marry each other without any of this convert nonsense ?

    As long as the racist in UMNO who created this policy enforce it, we can "cheerfully" expect May 13 to repeat. Only this time, instead of parang, we can expect automatic weapons, as the murders from 1969 was from the Army anyway (disguised in plainscloth). And some chinese dude's pregnant sister will get bullets in her stomach instead of slits.

    Oh well...

  6. Woe ye Woe..
    Lepas 'dibikin' dan 'diberak' keluar di bumi Malaysia ni...masih tak ambil peluang nak menguasai Bahasa Melayu...apalagi nak ambil prinsip2 agama Islam,Ohh tidak semesti kamu kena masuk Islam, tapi bila menulis disini tanpa ilmu, orang menilaikan kamu ini 'goblok' dan katak bawah mangkuk jamban terbalik.....shame to you...memalukan. Tapi aku rasa beruk jahil ni bukan orang Malaysia, malah ramai beruk2 yang begini datangnya dari Singapura...maklumlah singapura pokok semua dah kena tebang, beruk buat bising sikit kena masuk 'dungeon' makanya buat bising racist dan anti-Islam di blog2 Malaysia.

  7. religion and inferiority is the way that the government keep their grips on the reigns of power.

    i believe us urban folks don't buy this bullshit anymore, at least not the younger generation.

  8. well, that depends on who do u hang out with.

    True, the younger generation have learnt to forget the racial barrier. But, there's still a lot of the young urban folks that are racist, but anonymously. When they're together, they act like friends. But when they're together with their own race (no matter what race), they'll mouth out words of detest and irritation about the other races, especially if a member of the other race has had trouble with them.

    I'm just a naive young adult, but i've learnt at least something about Malaysian Society. WE ARE STILL NOT UNITED. I'd love to see my race prosper, but not at the expense of other races' suffering.

  9. Hei ORANG KELAWAR (batman)!

    Who the heck told you that Turkey is a TRUE MUSLIM country??? Your Ah Pek friends aahhh ...? How long have you lived in Msia (or Spore for that matter - the land stolen fr us)?? And, u never try to understand a bit about Islam!I have many close Chinese & Indian friends who many a time refer INDIA & CHINA as MOTHERLAND!!! So, I always jokingly told them if MOTHERLAND is SOOO GGOOODD ... why not go back?? You will then know your fate if you were in China during Chairman Moa era, during the Cultural Revolution!! Which ethnic group that opposes the teaching of Maths & Sc in English; which ethnic grp that opposes that Sekolah Wawasan Konsep, which ethnic grp that opposes this & that .... but in the end enjoy more benefits than those who support them ...!!!! And u Orang Kelawar, blindly blamed the armed forces for killing your people but how many malays were killed by the off springs of ghee hin & hai san (yr present gangstarz laa ... dude!!); did u ever look at the fact??? & I am damn sure, u r definitely the off spring of chin peng!!

    1. Give another twist, i had an opportunity to dine with veteran politician whom seen through May 13. While the narration in the above blog was close to peferct. Icing on the cake should be Razak n Mahathir trying to unseat Rahman by creating the may 13 riot.

  10. excuse me anonymous??? the goverment is always against the chinese and the indian communities!! did u get the point?? teaching maths & sc in eng is equally to extinguish the chinese n tamil teaching!!! whc language is more important now?? Malay language or chinese language?? u r not a politician n u dun noe a piece of shit of those stupid politicians who try to get rid of chinese language n tamil language step by step!!! Dumb!!

  11. Sigh... my goodness people. This is supposed to be a web posting of opinions on an event long past?

    And yet here we have such outright abusive language and name calling, wow feels just like june 13th 1969!

    Come on malaysians, if you can't even have a clean, healthy exchange of opinions here on the net (anonymously too I might add!) without resorting to such low and unseemly behaviour than I guess the vision of a fully united Malaysia is still what it is; just a pipe dream.

  12. Muslims have so much anger in them - wonder why - haven't made connection with the Almighty Spirit, I believe.

    I also think another May 13 is the right way to change the poor attitude of the Government - it will be a short deadly episode but then, possibly the children of those left behind will have a better Malaysia. I sacrifice worth considering.

  13. Come on, you must know the subject before proposing your point.
    Turkey is not a real Islamic country, it is a SECULAR country. In Islam and in any religion you basically can not marries someone that has different religion from you. Except in Islam, those from the old tastement is also considered in the same religion - Abrhamic. So they could get married in Turkey and Indonesia etc. But not in Malaysia.
    So you live in Malaysia then follow the Malaysian culture.
    The point is to live peacefully in Malaysia you must understand and tolerate the Malay culture and religion. Another word you must respect them the way they respect your culture and religion. As simple as that.

  14. Guys,

    I respect your views and historical facts about the real cause of the unfortunate May13 black incident.And I also respect your opinion and hope for living together as Malaysian irrespect of race and religion.I share the same too..
    But one thing need to corrected is about the view about religion.. Turket IS NOT an islamic country. It is a secular country.This is a general knowledge thing.And to get married with a muslim,one must convert to muslim because muslim can only get married to a muslim.
    Fullstop! He can be of any races or from any nationality but must be a muslim.This is religion knowledge.. And there is nothing to be afraid of also..If a indian married a muslim, he converted to a muslim but he is still an indian..not a malay.he can still do whatever he used to do before except of course what is forbidden in what's the big deal?
    My wife's mother is a chinese and we are happy up to now,thank God.
    So your perception of living together in peace and harmony with this inter-race marriage is not inaccurate and the wrong statement about other religion is dangerous.
    Muslim must respect other races and religions while at the same time strongly practising his religion.Fyi,during our prophet's time,we even have Jews and other religion living happily under Islam government and islamic law in Madina..

    Anyway,we share the same vision of Malaysian in harmony.

    Rgds and may peace be upon you.

  15. just to address what has been touched

    an anonymous comment to Batman a few comments above...

    Turkey @ the minority of Ankara prides itself in being a very secular country.. So saying that Turkey is a Muslim country.. is inaccurate.

    i think one of the comments above got the point correct..
    let's celebrate our differences.. not tolerate(this sounds as if it's
    tedious )

    I am Malay and still in my 20's
    generally i would say i've never had problems and i can count quite a few good friends who are indians, chinese and malays.. and also others for that matter..

    but the problem is.. politics in Malaysia is racial politics.. everyone plays the racial card..
    i think we should leave all those in the 60-70's era where it should be left there..

    i also feel that sometimes don't realize the fact that Malays=Islam
    some Malays have the belief that Islam is a God given right to them and they can bloody well do anything with them.. to the point of stretching the teachings a bit too far..

    Muslims can marry the "people of the book" as mentioned Abrahamic , Old testament etc2

    "Muslims have so much anger in them - wonder why - haven't made connection with the Almighty Spirit, I believe."
    this was one of the comments above..

    these comments would be the things that anger me.. we too often comment blindly on things that we have no knowledge of.. from both sides of the barrier..
    everything is reactionary..
    why not try to understand?
    rather than make off the cuff comments that further inflame things more?

    Malay doesn't equal to muslims..
    the malays have to earn the tag of muslims..
    too many malays say they are muslims when in fact they don't practice what they preach..

    this is all my humble opinion.. sorry if this hits a few buttons..

  16. Hello..this is my first time posting a comment on anything online.I was reading most of the comments posted and surprise surprise...its going the wrong direction.
    I'm 18 and just fresh out of form 5...just so you know. Malaysia is a beautiful country but its not going to remain such for long. As we all know..msia has so many races and its one of our major plus points.I just got to know someone from turkey and he was quite surprised to know that Malaysia comprised of so many races and religions.
    Just listen yeah...even at this point in time,some of my closest and longest friends are of all sorts of races..and among us friends we disagree about the way ppl in Msia are separated by race.My malay friends disagree with the way they have the upper hand at times.Look,basically...the problem lies with the politicians...its time to not look at creed and colour.forget it..we will never ever head anywhere if there is no unity amongst us Malaysians.As students..we dont bother about race.Its only later on that we become poisoned with the idea of race and so on. C'mon post a negative comment here and then meet up with friends.Makes no sense.when you look at the small picture,you find that things aren't so bad but its the big picture that stinks to high heaven. Stop trying to point out the flaws of the malays,chinese or indians..its no use. Time to take the trouble to make a difference for the betterman of this country.

    "when the power of love overcomes the love of power,the world will know peace."-Jimi Hendrix.
    think about it.and to all of you malaysians out sincere well wishes to each and everyone of you careless of your race,religion or opinion.
    take care

  17. The way the country is being governed, the chinks in racial lines are already showing. It is only a matter of time b4 another May69 will happen and this time the race relations will nver be the same again...

  18. haha..i got an idea..why dont we pack and send each and every politician in Malaysia to a no-man's land. There they can fight and try to claim who rightfully owns the land.The way Malaysia is being governed..everything about the country is going to crash just like an overloaded and outdated computer.

  19. Guys after long reads of your comments! i have a doubt!do we or you guys really know who was we and where are we came frm?!i mean MALAYS!!!!!! ( Im a Pure Malayan)

    been interesting to read such free-flowing comments on the subject of the Origins of the Malays. While we are on the subject, how many of you have read the book entitled "Contesting Malayness - Malay Identity Across Boundaries" Edited by Timothy P. Barnard published by Singapore University Press?
    Written by a Professor of National University of Singapore. It reflects the Anthropologists views that there is no such race as the "Malays" to begin with. If we follow the original migration of the Southern Chinese of 6,000yrs ago, they moved into Taiwan, (now the Alisan), then into the Phillipines (now the Aeta) and moved into Borneo (4,500yrs ago) (Dayak). They also split into Sulawesi and progressed into Jawa, and Sumatera. The final migration was to the Malayan Peninsular 3,000yrs ago. A sub-group from Borneo also moved to Champa in Vietnam at 4,500yrs ago.
    Interestingly, the Champa deviant group moved back to present day Kelantan. There are also traces of the Dong Song and HoaBinh migration from Vietnam and Cambodia. To confuse the issue, there was also the Southern Thai migration, from what we know as Pattani today. (see also "Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsular")
    Of course, we also have the Minangkabau's which come from the descendants of Alexander the Great and a West Indian Princess. (Sejarah Melayu page 1-3)
    So the million Dollar Question... Is there really a race called the "Malays"?
    All anthropologists DO NOT SEEM TO THINK SO. (strangely, this includes all Malay Malaysian Anthropologists who are of the same opinion.)
    Neither do the "Malays" who live on the West Coast of Johor. They'd rather be called Javanese. What about the west coast Kedah inhabitants who prefer to be known as "Achenese"? or the Ibans who simply want to be known as IBANS. Try calling a Kelabit a "Malay" and see what response you get... you'll be so glad that their Head-Hunting days are over.
    In an article in the Star, dated: Dec 3rd 2006
    available for on-line viewing at:
    An excerp is reproduced here below:
    "The Malays – taken as an aggregation of people of different ethnic backgrounds but who speak the same language or family of languages and share common cultural and traditional ties – are essentially a new race, compared to the Chinese, Indians and the Arabs with their long histories of quests and conquests.

    The Malay nation, therefore, covers people of various ethnic stock, including Javanese, Bugis, Bawean, Achehnese, Thai, Orang Asli, the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak and descendants of Indian Muslims who had married local women.
    Beneath these variations, however, there is a common steely core that is bent on changing the Malay persona from its perceived lethargic character to one that is brave, bold and ready to take on the world. "
    The definition of "Malay" is therefore simply a collection of people's who speak a similar type language. With what is meant by a similar type language does not mean that the words are similar. (A native Kelantanese native speaker has no clue whatsoever what his Iban native brother is talking about; if both speak their own dialect) Linguists however, call this the "Lego-Type" language, where words are added on to the root word to make meaning and give tenses and such. Somehow, the Indonesians disagree with this "Malay" classification and insist instead on being called "Indonesians" even though the majority of "Malays" have their roots in parts of Indonesia. They refuse to be called "Malay"…. Anyhow you may define it.
    The writer failed to identify (probably didn't know), that the "Malay" definition also includes, the Champa, Dong Song, HoabinHian, The Taiwanese Alisan and the Philippino Aetas. He also did not identify that the "Orang Asli" are (for lack of a better term) ex-Africans. If you try to call any one of our East Malaysian brothers an "Orang Asli", they WILL BEAT YOU UP! I had to repeat this because almost all West Malaysians make the same mistake when we cross the South China Sea. Worse, somehow, they feel even more insulted when you call them "Malay". Somehow, "kurang ajar" is uttered below their breath as if "Malay" was a really bad word for them. I'm still trying to figure this one out.
    Watch "Malays in Africa"; a Museum Negara produced DVD. Also, the "Champa Malays" by the same.
    With this classification, they MUST also include the Phillipinos, the Papua New Guineans, the Australian Aboroginies, as well as the Polynesian Aboroginies. These are of the Australo Melanesians who migrated out of Africa 60,000yrs ago.

    Getting interesting? Read on...
    "Malay" should also include the Taiwanese singer "Ah Mei" who is Alisan as her tribe are the anscestors of the "Malays". And finally, you will need to define the Southern Chinese (Southern Province) as Malay also, since they are from the same stock 6,000yrs ago.
    Try calling the Bugis a "Malay". Interestingly, the Bugis, who predominantly live on Sulawesi are not even Indonesians. Neither do they fall into the same group as the migrating Southern Chinese of 6,000yrs ago nor the Australo Melanesian group from Africa.
    Ready for this?
    The Bugis are the cross-breed between the Mongolian Chinese and the marauding Arab Pirates. Interestingly, the Bugis, (just like their Arabic ancestors) were career Pirates in the Johor-Riau Island areas. Now the nephew of Daeng Kemboja was appointed as the First Sultan of Selangor. That makes the entire Selangor Sultanate part Arab, part Chinese! Try talking to the Bugis Museum curator near Kukup in Johor. Kukup is located near the most south-western tip of Johor. (Due south of Pontian Kechil) He is more than willing to expound on the Bugis heritage. Buy him lunch and he can talk for days on end. Let's not even get into the Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekiu, and Hang Lekir, who shared the same family last name as the other super famous "Hang" family member... Hang Li Poh. And who was she? Legend tells us that she is the Princess of a Ming Dynasty Emperor who was sent to marry the Sultan of Malacca. Won't that make the entire Malacca Sultanate downline "Baba"? Since the older son of the collapsed Malaccan Sultanate got killed in Johor, (the current Sultanate is the downline of the then, Bendahara) the only other son became the Sultan of Perak. Do we see any Chinese-ness in Raja Azlan? Is he the descendant of Hang Li Poh? But wait a minute....

    That's what legend says. Let's look at the proof. The solid evidence. There is a well next to the Zheng He Temple in Malacca which is supposed to be the well built by the Sultan of Malacca for Hang Li Poh. According to legend, anyone who drinks of it shall re-visit Malacca before they die. Hmmm smells like a romantic fairy tale already. But let's look at who Hang Li Poh actually is. Which Ming Emperor was she a daughter to? So I got into researching the entire list of Ming Emperors. Guess what? Not a single Ming Emperor's last name begins with Hang. In fact, all their last names begin with Tzu (pronounced Choo). So who is Hang Li Poh? An Extra Concubine? A Spare Handmaiden? Who knows? But one thing for certain, is that she was no daughter of any of the Ming Emperors. Gone is the romantic notion of the Sultan of Malacca marrying an exotic Chinese Princess. Sorry guys, the Sultan married an unidentified Chinese commoner.
    Next question. If the Baba's are part Malay, why have they been marginalized by NOT BEING BUMIPUTERA? Which part of "Malay" are they not? Whatever the answer, why then are the Portugese of Malacca BUMIPUTERA? Did they not come 100yrs AFTER the arrival of the first Baba's? Parameswara founded Malacca in 1411. The Portugese came in 1511, and the Dutch in the 1600's. Strangely, the Baba's were in fact once classified a Bumiputera, but some Prime Minister decreed that they were to be strangely "declassified" in the 1960's. WHY? How can a "native son of the soil" degenerate into an "un-son"? The new classification is "pendatang" meaning a migrant to describe the Baba's and Nyonyas. Wait a minute, isn't EVERYONE on the Peninsular a migrant to begin with? How can the government discriminate? Does the Malaysian Government have amnesia?
    The Sultan of Kelantan had similar roots to the Pattani Kingdom making him of Thai origin. And what is this "coffee table book" by the Sultan of Perlis claiming to be the direct descendant of the prophet Muhammed? Somehow we see Prof Khoo Khay Khim's signature name on the book. I'll pay good money to own a copy of it myself. Anyone has a spare?
    In pursuing this thread, and having looked at the history of Prophet Muhammed (BTW, real name Ahmad) we couldn't figure out which descendant line The Sultan of Perlis was. Perhaps it was by the name Syed, which transcended. Then we tried to locate which downline did the Sultan descend from of the 13 Official Wives of Prophet Muhammad named in the Holy Koran? Or was the Sultan of Perlis a descendant from the other 23 non-wives? Of the 13 Official Wives were (at least known) 3 Israeli women. Then you should come to this instant revelation, isn't Prophet Muhammad an Israeli himself? Yes, the answer is clear. All descendants of Moses are Israeli. In fact, the Holy Koran teaches that Moses was the First Muslim. Thus confirming all the descendants of Moses to be Israeli, including Jesus and Prophet Muhammad. But since this is not a Religious or a Theological discussion, let's move on to a more anthropological approach.
    So, how many of you have met with the Orang Asli's (Malaysian Natives)? The more northern you go, the more African they look. Why are they called Negrito's? It is a Spanish word, from which directly transalates "mini Negros". The more southern you go, the more "Indonesian" they look. And the ones who live at Cameron Highlands kinda look 50-50. You can see the Batek at Taman Negara, who really look like Eddie Murphy to a certain degree. Or the Negritos who live at the Thai border near Temenggor Lake (north Perak). The Mah Meri in Carrie Island look almost like the Jakuns in Endau Rompin. Half African, half Indonesian.
    Strangely the natives in Borneo all look rather Chinese in terms of features and facial characteristics especially the Kelabits in Bario.
    By definition, (this is super eye-opening) there was a Hindu-Malay Empire in Kedah. Yes, I said right… The Malays were Hindu (just like the gentle Balinese of today). It was known by its' old name, Langkasuka. Today known as Lembah Bujang. This Hindu-Malay Empire was 2,000yrs old. Pre-dating Borrobudor AND Angkor Watt. Who came about around 500-600yrs later. Lembah Bujang was THE mighty trading Empire, and its biggest influence was by the Indians who were here to help start it. By definition, this should make the Indians BUMIPUTERAS too since they were here 2,000yrs ago! Why are they marginalized?
    The Malaysian Government now has a serious case of Alzheimer's. Why? Simply because, they would accord the next Indonesian who tomorrow swims across the Straits of Malacca and bestow upon him with the apparently "prestigious title" of the Bumiputra status alongside others who imply have inhabited this land for hundreds of centuries. (prestigious, at least perceived by Malays) They also have a strange saying called "Ketuanan Melayu" which literally transalates into "The Lordship of Malays" The Malays still cannot identify till this day "who" or "what" the Malays have "Lordship" over. And they celebrate it gallantly and triumphantly by waving the Keris (wavy knife which has Hindu origins in Borrobudor. Ganesan is seen brandishing the Keris in a bass-relief sculpture.) during public meetings over National TV much like a Pagan Wicca Ceremony on Steroids. Let's all wait for that official press release to see who the "Malays" have Lordship over, shall we?

    Of the 3 books listed, "Contesting Malayness" (about S$32 for soft cover) is "banned" in Malaysia; you will need to "smuggle" it into Malaysia; for very obvious reasons.... :( or read it in Singapore if you don't feel like breaking the law. Incidentally, the Professor (Author) was invited to speak on this very subject circa 2 yrs ago, in KL, invited by the MBRAS. You can imagine the "chaos" this seminar created... :( Fortunately the FRU was not called in.
    The other, "Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago, and the Malay Peninsular" (about RM84) are openly sold at all leading bookshops; Kinokuniya, MPH, Borders, Popular, Times, etc. You should be able to find a fair bit of what I've been quoting in this book too, but mind you, it is extremely heavy reading material, and you will find yourself struggling through the initial 200+ pages. It is extremely technical in nature. Maybe that's why it hasn't been banned (yet)…coz our authorities couldn't make head or tail of it? (FYI, if I weren't doing research for my film, I wouldn't have read it in its entirety)
    The "Sejarah Melayu" (about RM 50) however, is freely available at the University Malaya bookshop. I have both the English and Royal Malay version published by MBRAS. Alternatively, you could try reading the Jawi (Arabic Script) version if you are truly a sucker for unimaginable pain...... (may feel like circumcision)
    There are actually many sources for these Origins of Malays findings. Any older Philippino Museum Journal also carries these migration stories. This migration is also on display at the Philippines National Museum in Luzon. However, they end with the Aeta, and only briefly mention that the migration continued to Indonesia and Malaysia, but fully acknowledge that all Philippinos came from Taiwan. And before Taiwan, China. There is another book (part of a series) called the "Archipelago Series" endorsed by Tun Mahatir and Marina Mohammad, which states the very same thing right at the introduction on page one. "… that the Malays migrated out of Southern China some 6,000yrs ago…". I believe it is called the "Pre-History of Malaysia" Hard Cover, about RM99 found in (mostly) MPH. They also carry "Pre-History of Indonesia" by the same authors for the same price.
    It is most interesting to note that the Malaysian Museum officials gallantly invented brand new unheard-of terms such as "Proto-Malay" and "Deutero-Malay", to replace the accepted Scientific Term, Australo-Melanesians (African descent) and Austronesians (Chinese Descent, or Mongoloid to be precise) in keeping in line with creating this new "Malay" term.. They also created the new term called the Melayu-Polynesian. (Which Melayu exists in the Polynesian Islands?) Maybe they were just trying to be "Patriotic" and "Nationalistic"… who knows…? After all, we also invented the term, "Malaysian Time". While the rest of the world calls it "Tardy" and "Late". It's quite an embarrassment actually…. Singaporeans crossing the border are asked to set their watches back by about a 100yrs, to adjust to "Malaysian Time"…
    In a nutshell, the British Colonial Masters, who, for lack of a better description, needed a "blanket" category for ease of classification, used the term "Malay".
    The only other logical explanation, which I have heard, was that "Malaya" came as a derivative of "Himalaya", where at Langkasuka, or Lembah Bujang today was where the Indians were describing the locals as "Malai" which means "Hill People" in Tamil. This made perfect sense as the focal point at that time was at Gunung Jerai, and the entire Peninsular had a "Mountain Range" "Banjaran Titiwangsa", as we call it.
    The Mandarin and Cantonese accurately maintain the accurate pronunciation of "Malai Ren" and "Malai Yun" respectively till this very day. Where "ren" and "yun" both mean "peoples".
    Interestingly, "Kadar" and "Kidara", Hindi and Sanskrit words accurately describe "Kedah" of today. They both mean "fertile Land for Rice cultivation. Again, a name given by the Indians 2,000yrs ago during the "Golden Hindu Era" for a duration of 1,500yrs.
    It was during this "Golden Hindu Era" that the new term which the Hindu Malay leaders also adopted the titles, "Sultan" and "Raja". The Malay Royalty were Hindu at that time, as all of Southeast Asia was under strong Indian influence, including Borrobudor, and Angkor Watt. Bali today still practices devout Hindu Beliefs. The snake amulet worn by the Sultans of today, The Royal Dias, and even the "Pelamin" for weddings are tell-tale signs of these strong Indian influences. So, it was NOT Parameswara who was the first Sultan in Malaya. Sultanage existed approximately 1,500yrs in Kedah before he set foot on the Peninsular during the "Golden Hindu Era" of Malaysia. And they were all Hindu.

    "PreHistory of Malaysia" also talks about the "Lost Kingdom" of the "Chi-Tu" where the local Malay Kingdom were Buddhists. The rest of the "Malays" were Animistic Pagans.
    But you may say, "Sejarah Melayu" calls it "Melayu"? Yes, it does. Read it again; is it trying to describe the 200-odd population hamlet near Palembang by the name "Melayu"?(Google Earth will show this village).

    By that same definition, then, the Achehnese should be considered a "race". So should the Bugis and the Bataks, to be fair. Orang Acheh, Orang Bugis, Orang Laut, Orang Melayu now mean the same… descriptions of ethnic tribes, at best. So some apparently Patriotic peron decided to upgrade the Malays from Orang Melayu (Malay People) to Bangsa Melayu (Malay Race) Good job in helping perpetuate the confusion. And since the "Malays" of today are not all descendants of the "Melayu" kampung in Jambi (if I remember correctly), the term Melayu has been wrongly termed. From Day One. Maybe this is why the Johoreans still insist on calling themselves either Bugis, or Javanese til today (except when it comes to receiving Government Handouts). So do the Achehnese on the West coast of Kedah & Perlis and the Kelantanese insist that they came from Champa, Vietnam.
    Moreover, the fact that the first 3 pages of "Sejarah Melayu" claim that "Melayu" comes from Alexander the Great and the West Indian Princess doesn't help. More importantly, it was written in 1623. By then, the Indians had been calling the locals "Malai" for 1,500 yrs already. So the name stuck….
    And with the Sejarah Melayu (The Malay Annals in page 1-3) naming the grandson of Iskandar Zulkarnain, and the West Indian Princess forming the Minangkabau. Whenever a Malay is asked about it, he usually says it is "Karut" (bullshit), but all Malayan based historians insist on using Sejarah Melayu as THE main reference book for which "Malay" history is based upon. The only other books are "Misa Melayu", "Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa", "Hikayat Pasai", "Hikayat Raja-Raja Siak" and "Hikayat Hang Tuah" among others; which sometimes brings up long and "heated" discussions.
    Interesting to note is one of the great "Malay" writers is called Munsyi Abdullah; who penned "Hikayat Abdullah" He was an Indian Muslim. Let's re-read that little bit. He was an Indian Muslim. How can an Indian change his race to be a Malay? He can change his shirt, his car, his religion and even his underwear, but how can anyone change his race? This must be The New Trick of the Century, which even David Copperfield will pay lots of money to watch (and perhaps learn).

    "Mysterious Race Changing Trick"- created by The Malaysian Government.
    Still, Malaysians are still only second to the Jews (who by the way, are the only other people in the world who are defined by a religion) So perhaps David Copperfield has yet to learn a few tricks on the mass deception skills of the Malaysian Government?
    Malaysia Boleh...

    I find this strange.
    I also find, that it is strange that the "Chitti's" (Indian+Malay) of Malacca are categorized as Bumiputera, while their Baba brothers are not. Why? Both existed during the Parameswara days. Which part of the "Malay" side of the Baba's is not good enough for Bumiputera classification? Re-instate them. They used to be Bumiputera pre 1960's anyway.

    Instead of "Malay", I believe that "Maphilindo" (circa 1963) would have been the closest in accurately trying to describe the Malays. However, going by that definition, it should most accurately be "MaphilindoThaiChinDiaVietWanGreekCamfrica". And it is because of this; even our University Malaya Anthropology professors cannot look at you in the eye and truthfully say that the word "Malay" technically and accurately defines a race.
    This is most unfortunate.

    So, in a nutshell, the "Malays" (anthropologists will disagree with this "race" definition) are TRULY ASIA !!! For once the Tourism Ministry got it right….
    We should stop calling this country "Tanah Melayu" instead call it, "Tanah Truly Asia"
    You must understand now, why I was "tickled pink" when I found out that the Visit Malaysia slogan for 2007 was "Truly Asia". They are so correct... (even though they missed out Greece, and Africa)
    BTW, the name UMNO should be changed to UTANO the new official acronym for "United Truly Asia National Organization" . After all, they started out as a Bugis club in Johor anyway….
    I told you all that I hate race classifications…. This is so depressing. Even more depressing is that the "malays" are not even a race; not since day one.

    "Truly Asia Boleh"

    "No point fighting for Nothing"

    May Allah Swt Bless all of Us!

  20. Peace to all those that reads this comment.
    Bloody mother freaking much as we all should know about the 13 May Riot 1969...shouldn't we try and learn from it instead of ALWAYS bringing it up. I mean, as a student in an international school, I never really felt any racial or social discrimination until recently.
    For so long I felt that my country was just another boring country that just naively waves flags around and invites countries for 'peace visits'. It was until recently I started to become aware of all this.
    Honestly, I beg of you, why can't we just learn from this. For instance, I spend my time with foreigners all the time, and people always comment on me, "the wild asian girl", "the budak yang tak sopan", I mean...not only do we feel racist towards the races in our country [or so everybody says] but we feel racist towards others in different countries.
    I am so afraid of growing up now in this country that I can't even call home any more. Weren't we all taught that regardless of our skin colour with all have the same blood, the same bones, the same structure. Stop with all the racial comments.

    We are the same.


  21. You people have to learn from Sabah and Sarawak in term of toleransi kaum....

  22. K Temoc,a good article and also a great blog.I never knew that even pregnant women became targets of rioters.The same goes for the purported attacks on cinema-goers:one versions says the Malays attacked the Chinese,the other version says,the Chinese attackes the Malays in the Federal cinema.Are these stories true?

    1. my reply is terribly late wakakaka.

      AS I was told by elders who were in KL at that time, Malays attacked Chow Kit area first, armed with bamboo spears and bamboo armour(?) and the usual parangs. Then Chow Kit gangsters, after repelling the Kampung Baru mob, went to the Federal cinema to beat up Malay men but not women.

  23. I am just curious, I came across this blog when I was searching for those who were arrested for the crimes committed during the riots. Was anyone charged in court? I know that no one was arrested for the Kampung Medan incident. I suspect those who did the jeering were Police agent provocateurs, to justify the sacking of the democratically elected government of Selangor. --Rob

    1. The police did a great job in the 1969 riots, where they were truly neutral law officers. The withdrawal of the Armour Regiment and Sarawak Rangers (yes, in those days they were still known as Sarawak Rangers) and their replacement by Royal Malay Regiment was a gross mistake. Some suspected it was a deliberate racist move, but we don't know, do we?

      The police were too busy trying to quell the riots and stabilize the situation to investigate or arrest anyone unless those perpetrators were caught red-handed running around with weapons.

  24. Malaysian.... what does that mean to each of us. I am soo rojak I cannot begin. My mom comes from a bloodline consisting of Batak, Portuguese, Pakistani, Spanish and Chinese. My dad ... Chinese and Malay. My cousins..... a mini world of ethnicity and faith.... Pinch my right arm.... my left feels the pain... It hurts when I read of all this hatred that is so endless.... Is there a pure race anymore.....? As long as we remember to be humane first and to treat one other with love and respect, embracing our differences and acknowledging it can we go wrong? Aren't we all born equal in God's eye?