Utusan ‘May 13’ piece could spark unrest, says Pakatan

Utusan Malaysia’s editorial describing the May 13, 1969 riots as a “blessing in disguise” could set off another wave of racial riots in the country, said Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers today.

Labelling the article as “seditious”, several PR MPs are also considering lodging police reports against the Umno-owned daily.

The Utusan Malaysia editorial today described the May 13 racial clash as a sacred day for Malaysia and warned DAP to recognise its significance.

“Utusan Malaysia, which is a racist mouthpiece for Umno, has put in a framework to put some sort of meaning and interpretation to May 13. I would like to remind Utusan Malaysia that May 13 was paid in blood, and as much as there was Malay blood there was also Chinese and Indian blood being spread over those many days of chaos,” said DAP MP Jeff Ooi.

Ooi also questioned the juxtaposition of the Utusan Malaysia piece today with the Malay daily’s assertion of non-Malay dominance in the Malaysian economy currently.

 “Are they then setting a stage, staging a second round of May 13? This is very seditious, very provocative,” he said.

Today, the newspaper’s deputy editor-in-chief Datuk Zaini Hassan wrote in his weekly column that the riots were a blessing in disguise, otherwise “wealthy businesses and the professional classes would be controlled by one race only.”

Ooi said Utusan should not insinuate that it took “bloody racial fights” to justify the introduction and implementation of pro-Bumiputera policies like the New Economic Policy (NEP).

“I disagree strongly with what Utusan is saying.  In order to justify the existence of NEP it took bloodshed? I am very upset that we should now perhaps be prepared for another round of May 13,” Ooi told The Malaysian Insider.

In the Utusan article, Zaini claimed that the PR Penang state government had acted unjustly against state Opposition Leader Datuk Azhar Ibrahim, suspending him from the state assembly for citing the May 13 incident in his speech.

Early this month, Azhar was suspended for six months from the state assembly after he refused to retract allegedly seditious remarks made at an assembly sitting earlier this year.

Azhar, who is Penaga assemblyman, was accused of uttering apparently seditious words and issuing May 13 threats during a speech in the assembly by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on May 7.

He had warned of May 13-style racial riots and suggested the army take over the functions of the police if the latter had lost the confidence of the people.

The Umno man was referred to the assembly’s Rights and Privileges Committee after a motion tabled by Jagdeep Singh Deo (DAP-Datuk Keramat).

Zaini had also called for the May 13 incident to be incorporated into History lessons for students.

In response, Ooi said that the teaching of history should not be “politicised” and “fabricated” for the benefit of Barisan Nasional (BN).

“Are we now going to teach our young to think that May 13 is a blessing? I detest this,” said Ooi.

Another DAP MP, Lim Lip Eng said that he was considering of lodging a police report against Utusan Malaysia over the contents of the editorial.

“I’m considering of lodging a police report against Utusan for sedition. This is seditious. Who would imagine Malaysia be ruled by Chinese, with or without May 13? To us the riots were a tragedy, it should not have happened. Logically thinking, look at the population, 60 percent is ruled by Malays, how the Chinese can rule the majority, this is nonsense,” the Segambut MP told The Malaysian Insider.

The May 13 riots that took place after the 1969 general election resulted in a declaration of a state of Emergency and the suspension of Parliament.

It remains the country’s bloodiest race clash with hundreds reportedly killed in rioting mainly between Malay and Chinese groups.

In the general election that year, the Umno-led Alliance lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament. It was later replaced by the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition with many opposition parties joining the three original Alliance members of Umno, MCA and MIC.

Two years after the riots, the government introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP) to address the economic divisions that had been blamed for the clashes.

PAS lawmaker Khalid Samad echoed his DAP colleagues’ viewpoints, saying that only “extremists” would endorse the May 13 incident.

“Obviously we must acknowledge that May 13 was a tragic day in our history, and people who say that we must go through May 13 in order to solve problems are people who are extremist in nature, who believe in violence and who believe that might is right and [whoever] is strong can perpetuate their leadership through violence.

“From a totally different perspective, I believe that May 13 could and should have been avoided if the leaders of the country were sufficiently responsible and had addressed the problems of poverty irrespective of race,” Khalid told The Malaysian Insider.