Remembering May 13: Darkest episode in our nation’s history

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Patriots

Patriots have no qualms about speaking out against those who harbour intentions to cause racial conflict and societal disharmony.

Those born after 1969 would not really understand what it meant living with neighbours in a mixed ethnic composition area in a cordial, friendly, peaceful and harmonious atmosphere.

Those who lived through the riots would be inclined to say, “Never will I want to be witness to such horrific scenes again that had cost the lives of so many innocent people and destroyed homes and properties.”

That Tuesday, May 13, 1969 was the darkest episode in the history of our nation, when the citizens of Kuala Lumpur went berserk due to political differences – at a time when the two main players were the then ruling parties led by Umno and the opposition parties led by the DAP.

Those who lived throughout the colonial era and the years following independence would frown upon such a harrowing incident pitting the three major Malayan races to cause racial discord over political differences. This was simply because all three Malayan races had collectively agreed to fight for independence from colonial rule.

Malaysians today ought to pay tribute to the outstanding leadership of these three Malayan leaders; notably the country’s first PM Tengku Abdul Rahman Putra, Tan Cheng Lok and VT Sambanthan.

It was the Malayan spirit of togetherness, loyalty and love for the country that brought these three outstanding national leaders together to build a nation for future generations.

Several of our Patriot members were involved in public order duties during the May 13, 1969 racial riots. The horrific scenes, deaths and destruction are still etched in our memories.

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Other than the horrendous experience in May 1969, many among our Patriot members served in combat units and were involved in firefights with the enemies during the two emergencies and the confrontation and operated in war zones in UN peacekeeping missions.

Several of our comrades were killed in action, seriously injured or lost a limb from booby traps. Even doctors and medics in evacuation of casualties were shot at. Our ordnance officers had to defuse bombs planted by the enemies. Our engineers had to clear minefields. The helicopter pilots who flew resupply missions were shot at.

Our naval officers had to patrol the seas against pirates and manned remote islands. Special Branch officers were involved in dangerous missions. The police officers had their share of maintaining law and order too.

If it is terror and hardship, we have seen it all.

As such, Patriots despise terror. We despise killing and harming humanity. We have seen war, and we hate war. We have no qualms about speaking out against those who harbour intentions to cause racial conflict and societal disharmony.

Another racial strife like the dark episode of the May 13 incident would be destructive. Politicians especially those from the opposition who constantly inflame race and religion issues should be silenced. Such people who thump their chests loudly – but who have never seen real combat and have never experienced terror – are actually cowards.

Those political leaders who championed race and religion (Malays and Muslims) did so for their own selfish political survival. It had nothing to do with the betterment of their own race and religion they claimed to defend.

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Patriot calls on all Malaysians to look beyond this dark May 13 episode. All Malaysians must now march forward, shoulder to shoulder, to attain the “shared prosperity” that was just announced by our prime minister.

Retired Brigadier Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji is president Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan.

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