Probe May 13 to move on, says Kit Siang
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 21 — Only a full public disclosure of the May 13, 1969 racial riots, which remain shrouded in secrecy, will help Malaysians put the past in perspective and move on as a nation, the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang says.
The opposition leader wants a full investigation of the events surrounding the 43-year-old tragedy, including allegations that he had urinated on the flagpole at the then Selangor mentri besar’s residence.
Lim (picture) has come under attack from pro-Umno bloggers who had used the alleged flagpole incident as proof that he had instigated the May 13 ethnic riots, although he has maintained that he was not even in the capital city from May 10 to 13 in 1969.
Umno veteran Datuk Mazlan Harun told The Malaysian Insider in a report published yesterday that a former deputy home minister had told him of a report on the incident.
When contacted yesterday, Lim expressed surprise over Mazlan’s statement, saying that “it’s a complete figment of imagination because I was not anywhere in Kuala Lumpur.”
The Ipoh Timur MP has repeatedly denied these allegations.
Lim pressed for a “thorough investigation” to get to the “root of the matter”, saying that it should show “whether it’s true, whether there was such a police report, who is the (former) deputy home minister.”
“Let the police report be made public so the truth can be out,” he said, although he said he remains doubtful of the report’s existence.
He said a full probe was needed so “the lie is nailed once and for all”, instead of it being “used and recycled”.
But Lim stressed that investigations into the May 13 riots should not be made with the intention to “put the blame on anyone” but to “learn” from it.
“A full investigation will be helpful if the purpose is to move forward, rather than finger-pointing, and after all it’s 43 years already.”
“The whole thing is to move forward. We should not be haunted by the past, by the spectre of May 13.”
He agreed with Mazlan that May 13 be put to rest, but said it should not be “on the basis of spreading and concoction of lies.”
“There are people who are irresponsible and who want to... tell lies about May 13 to serve a certain political agenda,” he said, adding that such actions were “most deplorable and anti-national.”
Although he did not say who the “anti-national” ones were, he later said “the Umno leadership must take a stand to disassociate themselves” from Umno cybertroopers.
He said silence by Umno would mean that it was “condoning such irresponsible behaviour.”
Lim also dismissed fears of a repeat of the riots after elections, saying: “After 43 years, things have changed; the question of May 13 is not there.”
“If Umno loses and BN (Barisan Nasional) is replaced, it will be replaced by PR (Pakatan Rakyat) representing all races and all religions. The question of May 13 should never have been brought up in this context.”
The 1969 general election saw the Umno-led coalition, then known as the Alliance, losing its two-thirds parliamentary majority and its popular vote to the opposition for the first time since the nation’s independence in 1957.
The Alliance’s shocking defeat was then followed by Malaysia’s worst ethnic riots, which some reports say caused over 2,000 deaths.
In the 2008 general election, the ruling BN coalition suffered a fate similar to the Alliance in the 1969 elections, losing its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament.
However, BN managed to retain its majority vote and stayed in power.
The May 13 riots have been repeatedly brought up by BN as a “bogeyman” to persuade voters to continue to support the coalition.
Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was reported telling youths to stand united to avoid another racial clash like the 1969 riots.
His statement came ahead of the 13th general election that is expected to be the closest fight between BN and the federal opposition PR.