May 13 threat: a cheap political gimmick

The “postponed” Gerakan Kebangkitan Rakyat (Gertak) May 13 rally in Terengganu is the latest in a series of xenophobic publicity stunts by Umno and their stunted supporters.

The rally’s leading organiser Gertak’s Razali Idris announced, “I don’t want the rally to be hijacked by irresponsible parties. At the moment, a lot of people still don’t really know the purpose of the gathering and have been making comments about it without knowing the full picture.”

The “irresponsible parties” are, in fact, Gertak and the horde of similar, so-called NGOs. They have hidden their hate-filled faces behind the term “NGO”, showing scornful disdain for the description used originally by altruistic agencies such as Mercy Malaysia, Oxfam, Médecins Sans Frontières or Friends of the Earth.

Our home-grown, pathetic, Malay supremacist organisations boast grand, mock-heroic names like Perkasa (headed by Attack Frog Ibrahim Ali) and Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (GPMS, whose website appears to have been hacked, and bears the unfortunate tagline “This account has been suspended, please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible”).

Holding a rally to “motivate” Malays to mark the May 13 riots is immoral and “irresponsible”. Insecure outfits sharing such bigoted sentiments are, of course, found around the globe, from neo-Nazis in Austria and British National Party skinheads to the Klu Klux Klan in the United States. Zionists organise similar celebrations every year to commemorate David Ben Gurion’s victory in the 1948 war to evict Palestinians and to carve out land for Israel.

There are no prizes for guessing what the “purpose” of the May 13 rally was: to drum up support for “Malay supremacy” and to whip up feelings of ethnic hatred (“Melayu Bangkit!”). This in turn is meant to provide Utusan Malaysia more “news” to distribute to its credulous readers.

It is pure racist polemic, attempting to instigate antipathy against other ethnic groups. It happens each time the racist Umno leadership feels under threat, as it has done since the setbacks of the March 2008 general election and subsequent by-elections.

Najib has played a charade of being an “inclusive” PM, while encouraging ethnic and religious extremism under the guise of these NGOs. The Umno paymasters have sub-contracted out the jingoism, the ranting and raving, while Najib smiles and waves on 1Malaysia advertisements.

Najib, as we recall, allowed Malay supremacist NGOs to protest against the High Court’s decision to overturn Umno’s ban on the use of the word “Allah” by the Herald. Then he called for restraint and calm, akin to applying a band-aid plaster after an explosion has gone off.

His special aide Nasir Safar insulted Indians as beggars and Chinese as prostitutes, and escaped, so it seems, unscathed. It is conceivable that he will be “transferred” to another cushy job in future. Noh Omar made similarly incendiary remarks at a Selangor Barisan Nasional conference and offered an almost identical, insincere “apology” to Nasir’s.

It is also conceivable that Nasir and Noh were let loose by their master to spew poison, in order to make headlines in Utusan Malaysia, and stir up ethnic hatred – and then simply apologise, with a hint of a sneer, amidst the resulting uproar.

Propping up the Nouveau Royale

These Umno minions may claim they represent the Malay “race”, though Malays are far from a monolithic race, and are made up of many ethnic groups.

This is patently inaccurate.

These NGOs represent the feudal leaders within Umno, who can only cling on to power by appealing to the basest of human instincts. They hope to unite a voting bloc of Malays against other immigrants, and even against the most ancient immigrants to our shores, the Orang Asli, the Dayaks and KadazanDusunMuruts.

These feudal leaders make themselves out to be greater than monarchs – a Nouveau Royale class, if you like. The Malaysian government even bought a two-page advertisement in the New York Times, costing well over a million ringgit, congratulating pseudo-royal Rosmah Mansor, a so-called “First Lady”, for visiting the United States, as if she and her entourage were the Beatles landing triumphantly in New York in 1964.

These “Malay supremacists” would be more aptly re-named “Malay neo-royalists”. The mass delusion of ethnic identity allows rich Malays to lord it over poor Malays and other Malaysians, and to behave like the new and corrupt royalty. Malay nationalism is merely a tool.

Not all of these NGO members are complicit in this power play. Some are uneducated and simple-minded, and are misled by the political elite to buy into the Malay supremacy propaganda. They honestly believe in their chants and slogans, thanks to insecurity and an inferiority complex. They feel under threat because of the loss of support for Umno and have adopted a siege mentality.

The ascent to power

It is worth bearing in mind that the ascent to power by Najib’s father Razak, and later Mahathir and Najib himself, owed much to the May 13 riots. The excellent book “May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969” by academic and Suaram activist Kua Kia Soong, among many other publications, makes it clear that the May 13 violence was engineered by Razak and Selangor Menteri Besar Harun Idris, in a coup d’état against Tunku Abdul Rahman.

How can Najib give up using May 13 as a weapon, after he inherited power thanks to his father’s deft use of ethnic animosity? It would be like asking a glutton to starve himself.

But many Malays, even in race-obsessed peninsular Malaysia, have moved on since May 13, 1969. When Anwar Ibrahim returned to politics, he held his first public rally at Kampung Baru, the flashpoint that started the May 13 riots. It was an astute move, heavy with symbolic meaning. Many Malays have now learnt that Umno’s racist polemic is a cover for enriching their leaders and keeping ordinary Malays underfoot, and undereducated.

Many Malays refused to condone the instigation of the proposed Gertak rally. Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin opposed it, but then this was not so surprising: Gertak, Perkasa and other subcontractor NGOs are competing with Umno Youth for tub-thumping duties, and they are edging Khairy out of his future chances of wresting power.

PAS leaders, on the other hand, continue to speak sense, as they did over the “Allah” ban. PAS Youth chief Nasruddin Hassan said “We all may have different ideologies and political leanings, but racist gestures like these should be avoided…I urge the public not to attend the function. This event will just put the nation backwards, and bring back nightmares to those who have actually survived the May 13 incident.”

Enlightened Malaysians have called for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help us all come to terms with the legacy of the killings and learn from what truly happened, instead of trotting out the violence repeatedly as a threat.

We in Sarawak, though we were spared the May 13 riots, must never ignore survivors’ stories. One such eye-witness account was originally posted on a blog by PKR state assembly representative Elizabeth Wong. It has been edited for clarity.

“It (began) when it was announced by loudspeakers that the penghulu would throw a durian party at the Lee Rubber Estate compound. Our Chinese elders advised us all to go. Harun (Idris), the hypocrite who started it all, spoke and the crying penghulu spoke with much love and affection for all races.

“I had to rush back from Batu Pahat with a few friends in several cars, although fighting was concentrated only in Kuala Lumpur…faces of hatred with foul mouths, young Malays armed with stones in their hands were seen everywhere. We made few stopovers, as there were curfews.

“A few miles before reaching Melaka, I was stoned by more than a dozen Malays. Luckily it was a straight road, I ducked and my side glass door was all smashed up! Then a group of Chinese rushed out to escort me two hundred yards away and told me to drive safely home.

“Reaching my house, I was all ready to die to protect Chinese houses being burnt up. We never burnt Malay houses (in revenge). We were after those culprits, but they were cowards, assisted by military people. (Then) the Sarawak Rangers came and were fair to all, peace was coming back slowly.”

Hornbill
25/05/10

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