Dr M's 'May 13' letter: Will history repeat itself?

KUALA LUMPUR: Popular blogger Tulang Besi has reproduced Dr Mahathir Mohamad's scathing letter to first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman penned in the aftermath of the May 13, 1969 racial riots.
The letter, which was widely distributed back then, had led to Mahathir's expulsion from Umno.
Tulang Besi, who operates the Malaysia Waves blog, pointed out that the letter clearly blamed Tunku for the bloodletting.

“So I am perplexed as to why (Malay pressure group) Perkasa is blaming the Chinese,” he said.

Tulang Besi's posting comes in the wake of a Malay unity rally, slated for May 13, being postponed following instructions from the top.

It is learnt that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's administration had pulled the plug following strong objections from both sides of the political divide.

Sources claimed that the premier was worried that the event would provide fodder to the opposition to sway Chinese votes in the Sibu by-election, which saw the parliamentary constituency fall to DAP last night.

Barisan Nasional is said to be shell-shocked by its defeat in Sibu, which is incidentally a Chinese-majority seat.

The rally, themed “Melayu Bangkit” (Rise Malays), was supposed to be officiated by Mahathir, and its postponement is said to have irked the former premier and groups like Perkasa.

He told reporters later that the tragedy should not be forgotten, as it is an important history lesson to prevent such an incident from recurring.

Mahathir's advise to Najib
Following the April 25 Hulu Selangor by-election, which saw more than 80% of Chinese voters backing the opposition candidate, Mahathir had issued a stern warning to Najib.

The former premier told his protege that the Malays feel that Umno is now unable to protect them from the attacks launched by “extremist” Chinese groups.

He suggested that Najib forget about wooing the Chinese, who would never vote for BN, and focus on keeping Malay support instead.

Since assuming the reins of leadership in April last year, Najib has been causing discomfort among the more ultra-Malays with his all-inclusive policies. Talk is rife that a mutiny is brewing in Umno.

Najib's New Economic Model has also caused alarm among Malay groups, who fear that a more meritocratic approach would lead to them losing out to other races, especially the Chinese.

Observers also highlighted the “differences” which cropped up during the Malay entrepreneurs convention over the weekend, where Najib stressed on merit, and urged Malay businessmen to buck up.
The audience, noted the observers, was far from enthusiatic.

His deputy Muhyiddin Yassin, on the other hand, was greeted by fervent chants of “Hidup Melayu” (Long Live the Malays) from certain quarters when he took to the podium.

Mahathir, who also spoke at the convention, took a swipe at Najib's Economic Model, underscoring the importance of striking balanced economic development between the races.

Dismissing critics' claim that the previous New Economic Policy was a stumbling block to the nation's progress, the former premier called for Najib's model to be re-looked.

Will Dr M pen another letter?
These developments have left observers wondering if a realignment of forces is taking shape in Umno, and if Mahathir is on the verge of penning another letter similar to the one he had sent to Tunku.

In his letter to Tunku, Mahathir had said: “You have told me yourself that you had prevented riots by stopping the death sentence on 11 subversive Chinese. But it is this action of yours which led to the riots and resulted in scores of deaths since May 13.”

“You have always compromised, giving in to the Chinese's demands. The core of this compromise was revoking the abovementioned death sentence. This caused great anger among the Malays.

“The Chinese consider you and the Alliance government cowardly and weak and could be pushed around. This is why the Chinese are no longer afraid to reject the Alliance and the Malays also do not favour it.

“This is why the Chinese and Indians behaved rudely (membuat kurang ajar) towards the Malays...”
Unpublished evidence
Meanwhile in a related development, Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali responded to Tulang Besi by stating that he has evidence to support claims that it was the Chinese who sparked the May 13 tragedy.

"It was all caused by the procession on May 9 where they first shouted dirty words at the Malays. These was all recorded,” he told FMT today.

"I have the evidence of these in an unpublished book that is in my possession. I have also spoken to many ex-army, ex-policemen and residents of Kuala Lumpur from that time," said Ibrahim, who declined to name the author of the said book.

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