Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No May 13, No "Ketuanan Melayu" (reprise)

[From an email I posted on the Artisproactiv forum on 14 October 2004. It was subsequently published in this blog on 30 September 2008, but I feel it's worth reprising one more time to mark the 40th anniversary of 13 May 1969]

Date: Thu, 14 Oct 2004 16:41:20 +0800
From: Antares

Those in power will do ANYTHING it takes to remain in power. This is a basic Machiavellian truism. Exceptions to the rule occur, of course, but all too rarely. It takes a Prince Siddhartha to turn one's back on the false and treacherous allure of earthly power and embark on a personal quest for truth and enlightenment.

Or perhaps a prince like Tunku Abdul Rahman who resigned a sad and broken man after May 13 rather than battle those within Umno who wanted him out.

Shortly before his death, the Tunku confided - in a series of intimate interviews with K. Das, former bureau chief of the Far Eastern Economic Review, who was working on the Tunku's official biography - that what happened on May 13, 1969, was really the implementation of a contingency plan to prevent the political opposition (in this instance the DAP and PAS) from forming a parliamentary majority after the 1969 general election. The Tengku actually named FIVE individuals who were the key conspirators.*

Strategies had been laid long before the general election to spark off "racial riots" - in the event of a poor showing for the ruling party in the polls - that would precipitate the declaration of a state of national emergency (temporary martial law and the hasty formation of the National Operations Council) - and the nullification of the 1969 election results. The loss of a few hundred lives was deemed a necessary sacrifice to ensure Umno's continued dominance and the political survival of the Alliance (now the Barisan Nasional).

The plan obviously worked. By declaring it a "sensitive" issue, the May 13 plot effectively acquired the status of a national taboo, thereby protecting its perpetrators from a royal commission of inquiry and charges of criminal treason. 35 years down the line, not one of the five key conspirators has ever been exposed and charged with complicity in this deadly and repugnant sandiwara.

This sort of strategem is actually standard practice - and since "winners" rewrite history as they please - it often takes ages before such skeletons are excavated from the dusty remains of political cupboards, centuries later.

Take the infamous Gulf of Tonkin "incident" which led directly to America's invasion of Vietnam... or the JFK assassination of November 22, 1963: the whole thing is still shrouded in mystery and much discussed amongst "conspiracy theorists." Despite the Freedom of Information Act in America, and a slew of well-researched books on the subject, the general public still unthinkingly accepts that JFK's assassin was Lee Harvey Oswald. Same thing with RFK (Robert F. Kennedy) and MLK (Martin Luther King).

Then there was the story (planted by PR firm Hill & Knowlton) about Saddam Hussein's troops snatching infants from their incubators in Kuwait, which swung public opinion in favor of Emperor Bush I's 1991 Operation Desert Storm. And now we have September 11, 2001 as America's very own "May 13."

Race riots, my foot. May 13 was really just "Plan B": a carefully orchestrated mengamuk.

Yup, it's Chicken Run all over!

* One of the five May 13 conspirators is still alive and plotting - and among the others, some of their offspring are still active in politics. So I won't name any of them without proper legal backing or documentary evidence. However, I can drop a heavy hint: two of them subsequently became prime ministers. How did I come by this info? I collaborated with K. Das in 1986 on a book of political quotes and we had a few good conversations over the years.
Vernon Emuang forwarded this Malaysiakini essay by Sim Kwang Yang:

It would seem to be a clear case of sedition when a political butterfly dressed up in hornet's armour tried to revive the ghost of May 13 in the recent Umno general assembly, to the thunderous applause of all those present.

Speeches during Umno general assemblies are more likely to be carefully orchestrated representations of their mainstream thinking, rather than the spontaneous cut and thrust of creative ideas. So we - who are excluded from the inner sanctum of Umno faithful - have to assume that their perennial call to arms is an integral part of Umno ideology. After all, May 13 was the cornerstone upon which the grand superstructure of the NEP had been erected for the past 35 years.
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