Malaysiakini Yoursay

Yoursay: May 13 - can we handle the truth?

Published:  |  Modified:

YOURSAY | ‘When will Malaysians be mature enough to deal with the truth of May 13?’

Many want a better understanding of May 13, survey shows

Vent: Before this survey, there were calls to hold a truth and reconciliation commission, and Malaysiakini has been driving the narrative on May 13th in various iterations since.

May 13 was a dark, shameful, and indelible part of Malaysia's history, albeit centred in Kuala Lumpur.

Besides exposing the villains of the massacre that is almost common knowledge by now, what would a truth and reconciliation commission achieve 50 years on?

For a commission to achieve anything tangible or even meaningful, it must come ideally soon after the trauma of the episode, regime, or period being investigated, because the whole point of it is to heal a nation's wounds through reconciling its people and perhaps naming and shaming the perpetrators. Its purpose is certainly not vengeance.

But 50 years on, we have moved on to an entirely new chapter in our nation's history.

That itself is testimony to a reconciliation of sorts by Malaysians seeking a new beginning from a fractured past, freedom from a regime that was soiled by its immoral racism and corruption, and tainted by its previous complicity in May 13.

Apart from vindicating a few politicians and vilifying some others, what real good can it do at this point in our history?

Even the welcome but fragile win by the Pakatan Harapan coalition is still facing grievous threats to it by the vociferously rabid remnants of the old regime playing to the hilt as never before the three cards of race, religion and royalty (3Rs), the last being the darkest of all.

Even the innocuous International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was blocked out of sheer political vindictiveness and royal mischief.

And, the ongoing inquest into the unlawful death of firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim is being turned into a racial ‘Game of Thrones’.

I cannot envisage given the current racially charged and easily ignited political situation how reopening the wounds of that fateful day in our history is going to reconcile, let alone heal us.

I say difficult as it is for many of us who witnessed the atrocities of a few, let's work on this New Malaysia whose very existence is such a precious reality. To lose it is unthinkable to me!

Questioner: Those who are in the late 60s and above will 'more or less' have learned the 'truth' by word of mouth – as events unfold then and immediately thereafter.

Remember, there weren't electronic messaging such as WhatsApp and the like. I am one of those; age as above.

For me, it pains to recollect the stories of the riot on May 13. It will benefit no one.

If anything, it will give ammunition to political parties such as Umno and PAS who use the 3Rs to survive and worsen race relations. My take is to let it rest in peace.

Mission Accomplished: I agreed. We seniors knew and equally, knew it would be a fruitless task to try to unearth the painful truth. This nation simply does not have the integrity and dignity of a just nation.

Anonymous_1543918786: The last sentence that "this nation simply does not have the integrity and dignity of a just nation" is absolutely correct.

On the other hand, to run away from true history is not an option. Truth must be faced head on. What is important is to learn from history and not to repeat the mistakes again.

Jaguh: I am of the opinion that if too much is revealed, it will be like a May 13 happening again, as it will rekindle pent-up feelings of both sides.

Let a 50-year old incident rest. We started doing business with Japanese people way back in the 1950s, and that’s only 10 years after World War Two.

Did our folks love the Japanese during WWII? No, many of us were beheaded and tortured. So, let it be just history.

Anonymous #13114320: Just like WWII, it is part of history that we all should know and learn from, no matter how painful it was.

We simply cannot bury the true picture and hope nobody discovers it. That is not how we as a nation should progress.

Clear Thinking: A royal commission of inquiry on May 13 is an absolute must.

The commission should comprise members who were not alive then, and must fully inquire and make recommendations for the future, even if it means Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s poorly founded book The Malay Dilemma could have sparked racial conflict, perhaps unwittingly.

Anonymous_137465729: The danger of reopening this old wound is that it plays into the hands of irresponsible elements who will play up racial sentiments and undo all the good that Harapan has done to racial harmony.

I don't think the Malaysian society is sufficiently mature at this stage for this inquiry; perhaps after a few more terms of Harapan rule, the issue may be revisited.

Anonymous: Truth is necessary for all the good reasons, but please wait until Harapan has stronger footing. Perhaps after winning the 15th general election?

We waited half a century, so why hurry?

Anonymous_1529132749: I think Malaysians must learn to have a sense of priority.

We already know enough ills in Malaysian politics. Please focus on fixing now all that is already known and put Malaysia on a sustainable path as a nation.

While a good closure and lessons learnt to May 13 is good, it might slow the momentum or distract from the present urgent efforts to build new sustainable Malaysia.

Anonymous_1538808416: Harapan is only a year old, and given the current political context, the May 13 incident should remain classified as secret for the time being.

Lately, we have seen a surge in 3R issues being abused by politicians.

More worrying is fake news all over social media due to poor control by the Communications and Multimedia Ministry. Just search May 13 and you will get all sort of videos uploaded by irresponsible quarters with intention of spreading lies and inciting hatred.

There are many more incidents concerning race that would justify that now is not the right time to dig into this.

If the effort is to preserve and document down all the encounters for future academic purpose, then it should be fine but must be done with proper care and be classified as a national secret until such time that when the country is ready, then declassify it.

Anonymous 770241447347646: Are Malaysians mature enough to face the realities of the tragedy that happened on May 13?

Is the nation on sound footing, where no race is deprived of any opportunity? Is the nation economically robust, as most Malaysians are earning income for a comfortable life? Do Malaysians recognise themselves as citizens first above their personal racial identity?

Until we are mature enough in our thinking to handle the answers truthfully, only then should the real truth be released. If not, the enemies of the nation will use to create misunderstanding by twisting the facts.

A tragedy had just happened under our noses – the death of an innocent firefighter. The facts were twisted by certain individuals to suit their own agenda.

Harry Mou: Finding the truth is the basic to build trust and relations between various races.

The truth can be also the basis to eliminate racism and religion extremism and bigotry, but these calls are feared by many greedy and immoral Malays. That's why we see here so much opposition to truth-finding efforts from this group.

Mahathir, we want a truth commission to be set up now, not later. The members of the commission must be of an equal number from each race, not by racial ratio, just like your cabinet.

Anonymous 923803847502: If not now, 50 years after the event, when will Malaysians be mature enough to deal with the truth of May 13?

Perhaps never. And we, and future generations of Malaysians, shall forever be imprisoned by the racial and religious walls we built. 

The above is a selection of comments posted by Malaysiakini subscribers. Only paying subscribers can post comments. Over the past one year, Malaysiakinians have posted over 100,000 comments. Join the Malaysiakini community and help set the news agenda. Subscribe now.

These comments are compiled to reflect the views of Malaysiakini subscribers on matters of public interest. Malaysiakini does not intend to represent these views as fact.

Share this story


Welcome back,

Your subscription expires on

Your subscription will expire soon, kindly renew before

Your subscription is expired
  Click here to renew

You are not subscribed to any subscription package
  Click here to subscribe now

Any questions?
  Email: [email protected]
  Call: +603-777-00000