Murder and mayhem in Kampung Baru - my May 13 story

Aidila Razak and Tham Seen Hau

Modified 18 May 2020, 4:09 am

Editor's note: The following article includes troubling details of the deadly riots on May 13, 1969. This dark episode of history is so painful that it is shrouded in secrecy and taboo.

Fifty years to the day, we are sharing several stories for generations of Malaysians born after the riots. May it serve as a lesson for today and our collective future.

The following article contains graphic description of the violence that took place. Not everything can be independently verified. However, portions which can be corroborated are marked in blue hyperlinks.

This is the story of an eyewitness to the riots of May 13, 1969. A first-year student at Universiti Malaya at the time, he was caught in Kampung Baru, one of the hotspots of the riot. He remained there until May 16.

Now 70, the eyewitness spoke to Malaysiakini on condition of anonymity and confessed to prolonged and ongoing trauma from what he experienced 50 years ago.

“Even now, when I go to the mosque area, I get flashbacks of what I saw,” said the witness, who is Malay.

With tears in his eyes, he recalled an incident where a young Chinese family was set upon by a Malay mob.

“I don’t know what got to me, but I became hysterical. I remember shouting: ‘Let them go! Let them go! Kill me! Kill me!’ I remember using those words. I tore off my shirt and went absolutely berserk.

“I don’t know why I did that, but I just couldn’t accept it. When I saw two young children – a girl and a boy – crying and their parents shaking in the car, I couldn’t accept it. What was their sin? Because they were Chinese? Why must they be the victims?”

This is his story, as told to Aidila Razak and Tham Seen Hau...

Already Subscribed? Sign In
All Access Plan
from ~RM12 / month
Unlimited access to our articles
Comment on all our stories
Gift articles to your friends
Secure and Encrypted
Student or Senior Citizen? Get a special rateGroup / Institutional / Corporate Plans