Feel-good May 13 parties are an abomination
Every year at this time, many earnest-minded folk will organise “feel-good” parties, supposedly to help fellow Malaysians to “exorcise the ghost” of May 13, 1969. They’re doing the wrong thing. There is no ghost. It’s alive and kicking.
The Umno racism behind May 13 did not die in the blood of that day. It thrived, and grew. It is very much alive today, in the race-baiting flames fanned by the likes of Utusan Malaysia and the voices of Perkasa, the proxies of that other fear-monger, Mahathir Mohamad.
What can those earnest folk of the “feel-good” parties achieve? A whitewash of what Umno’s racists have done, and are still doing, by transferring guilt from the guilty to the innocent.
May 13 happened because Umno and its partners in the Alliance lost the popular vote at the general election. It lost Penang to the newly-formed multiracial Gerakan party and was deadlocked in Perak and Selangor without a majority.
The riots of 1969 perpetuated Umno power, in a naked power grab. Umno has never accepted responsibility. Instead, “communists” were blamed. The Chinese community were blamed. The DAP were blamed. Nowadays, Lim Kit Siang particularly is blamed. (He was not even in KL on the day.)
Those doing the blaming and pointing the fingers are Umno’s reactionary right-wing fascists who, once again, want to make the entire Malaysian Chinese community pay the price of what happened 44 years ago. For being successful despite the odds. For standing up for themselves. For demanding what is their due.
That is the evil behind the good intent of feel-good parties: they transfer the guilt to the innocent. The guilt lies not with Malaysian people; it was not Malaysian society that turned against each other. It was politicians and their flunkies willing to use violence to keep power.
The guilt lies with racist politicians — especially the politicians of the ruling party, specifically Umno.
Every Umno politician of that period shares the guilt: those who whipped up racist hysteria and instigated their followers, and those in the police, security forces and the civil services who lost sight of their primary role to protect and defend the nation and all citizens, not just those of the same skin or the same faith.
In 44 years, none of those involved have ever shown remorse, let alone willingness to accept responsibility. If anything, the likes of Mahathir Mohamad have continually used the threat of “another May 13”, and the implied threat to invoke violence against citizens, to stay in power.
Utusan Malaysia in the past five years, and especially in the past week, has been the standard-bearer of the race-baiting, fear-mongering and incitement that led to May 13.
When feel-good parties are held on this day, it perpetuates the myth — the big lie — that ordinary Malaysians turned against each other and covers up for the politicians who did, and who kept their fingers clean by using proxies. But their hands are stained with blood nonetheless.
It is Umno that must bear primary responsibility for that day 44 years ago. When they do, national reconciliation may begin. That they have never done so is a testament to the arrogance of power, of having got away with murder.
Umno’s power grab of May 13 kept them going, brought “ultras” to the fore, and perpetuated the Malays First racism that is embodied in the evil of Ketuanan Melayu and Perkasa, the proxies of Mahathir Mohamad.
If today’s feel-good Malaysians want to feel really good, they should work at getting Umno to accept responsibility, and thereby start a process of reconciliation. And get Umno to end racist trash talk, and racism as a basis of public policy.
Espousing May 13 “unity” only does Umno’s work for them, by whitewashing an atrocity.
And that is an abomination.