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Risking my life to save my neighbours on May 13, 1969

Tham Seen Hau

Published
Modified 18 May 2020, 4:11 am

Editor's note: In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the May 13 riots, Malaysiakini is producing a series of articles on this tragic event and efforts in reconciliation. 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.


Foong Yee was a 24-year-old probationary police inspector when the May 13, 1969 riots broke out.

Fifty years on, his experience driving through the blazing and lawless streets of Kuala Lumpur remains fresh in his memory.

In his account below, he recalls how he managed to save his kin, evacuate his entire village, and rescue his Malay neighbours from being killed by Chinese secret society members.

Along the way, he experienced a brush with death when he drove into a group of army personnel by accident.

Seconds from death, he recalls feeling the muzzle of a gun on his temple.

“If he had pulled the trigger, I would not be telling you my story at this moment.”

In 2000, Foong retired from the force as the deputy police chief of Kuala Lumpur.

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

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