Exorcising the spectre of May 13, 1969

Syahredzan Johan

Modified 14 May 2019, 3:32 pm

COMMENT | This year marks half a century since the race riots of May 13, 1969.

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it," is the famous saying of philosopher George Santayana.

We must understand why the May 13 riots happened in order to ensure that we do not see a repeat of it.

We have been haunted by the spectre of May 13 for far too long. Irresponsible politicians and opportunistic individuals have used this as a way to dissuade dissidents from ‘rocking the boat’ or ‘playing with fire’. Those who challenge the status quo have been met with warnings of a ‘repeat’ of riots.

Fifty years later, prejudice and distrust of ‘the other’ remain prevalent. Bigotry, prejudice and racism give rise to intolerance, as race and religion are used as political currency.

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