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LETTER | More must be done to educate Malaysians about May 13

LETTER | Fifty-five years after the May 13 tragedy which saw the country plunge into horrific violence and mass unrest, there exists an ever-growing importance to educate the Malaysian public at large on the causes and conditions which gave rise to the incident – to work on strengthening the country’s community infrastructure.

Malaysia continues to be susceptible to dangerous racial sentiments at present, stirred by malevolent forces and if left to itself, it could burn away the years of harmony, prosperity and peace Malaysians have strived arduously to maintain and turn it to ashes.

The threat of such racial sentiments being exploited has never been more apparent in the digital age where, through the power of algorithms, the speed and reach at which they can detrimentally impact the Malaysian public in a way not previously seen before.

This only makes it much more difficult to leverage democratic instruments to keep the peace and to hold those guilty of deliberately stoking unrest accountable to the law.

This is why the government must find ways to educate the public on the events surrounding May 13, 1969, to clear the disinformation, and ensure that Malaysians heed the consequences of the tragedy and work collectively to build a more prosperous society in the long term.

It is important to remember that around the time of the general election in 2022, sentiments over May 13 were perniciously stoked on platforms such as TikTok and Facebook which led to significant concerns over national security.

The efforts of the police force which took swift action to apprehend those who committed these acts were commendable, but this still served as a reminder to Malaysians that the country was still very much vulnerable to unpredictable internal distress and turmoil.

Malaysia has come a long way since the events of May 13, 1969, and this is very much a result of the people’s resilience. Educating Malaysians on May 13, 1969, sensibly and productively can heal the country’s collective consciousness - ridding it of misconceptions, false narratives and fables.

This provides opportunities for Malaysia’s future generation to move past obstacles towards a peaceful Malaysia and improve the quality of political dialogue in the country. Malaysia’s multicultural and racial harmony is a product, among other things, of the education we have poured into the minds of Malaysians.

It was through the inculcation of strong values and principles and advocating for moral teaching which convicted the country of the beauty of Malaysian diversity. By reinforcing this through education, Malaysia can better counteract racial disharmony.

Through an awareness of May 13, 1969, Malaysians can understand with greater clarity the things which must be done to prevent such atrocities from taking place in Malaysia.

Education in Malaysia as to past tragedies has always been a source of unity for the country. Whether it is through a remembrance of the Japanese occupation or the disappearance of MH370, it was through an awareness of the times in which the country fell into mourning which allowed us to recover from the bleeding wounds of the past to full health.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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