Categorised | 6 Words

13 May

IT’S hard to imagine that it has been 40 years since the event that has so shaped and scarred our lives took place. 13 May 1969 is, to borrow from President Franklin D Roosevelt, a date that will live on in infamy, for Malaysians at least.

The riots in Kuala Lumpur and the bloody aftermath have become Malaysia’s own bogey — a spectre that is wielded ever so often by politicians bent on using it for their own ends.

The events of 13 May ultimately led to the creation of the National Economic Plan (NEP) that has — for better or worse — reshaped Malaysian society to what it is now.

Yet, 40 years on, the fear of racial riots remains; the ghost of 13 May looms large in our collective consciousness. But few really know what actually transpired on that date. The whole event is shrouded in secrecy. Everything from the total number of deaths, to the masterminds behind the riots, is open to question.

What we need to ask is, does it really matter anymore? Isn’t it time for us to move on, to show that we are no longer prisoners of our past?

Forty years on, Malaysians should be mature enough to talk about 13 May in a rational manner, and not let politicians hijack the discussion. Let’s collectively throw off the cloak of fear that dominates discussion on the subject, and move towards forgiveness and reconciliation. Towards making this a home for all Malaysians free of fear of each other.

What do you think? Give us your six words on 13 May in the comments section below. Here are some from The Nut Graph team to get started.

Jacqueline Ann Surin:

Remember the untold May 13 stories.

Why can’t we move on, please?

The politicians won’t let us forget!

Shanon Shah:

A day to reflect and reconcile.

The myth that keeps on giving.

Apa yang sebenarnya berlaku hari itu?

Kau kunci tanahairku dalam tarikh itu.

If South Africa can move on…

Turn that negative into a positive!

Cindy Tham:

Negaraku. Rakyat hidup bersatu dan makmur.

Deborah Loh:

Learn from, not bury the past.

Move on from 13 May, BN.

Don’t make it the bogey anymore.

We’ll never know what really happened.

N Shashi Kala:

Not just another date in Malaysia.

Gan Pei Ling

13 May? *looks around* Seditious lah!

Chinese vs Malays? Malaysians vs politicians.

See also:
Surviving 13 May


The Nut Graph — reclaiming 13 May.

Inspired by Ernest Hemingway‘s genius, the Six Words On… section challenges readers to give us their comments about a current issue, contemporary personality or significant event in just six words. The idea is to get readers engaged in an issue that The Nut Graph identifies, while having fun and being creatively disciplined.

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56 Responses to “13 May”

  1. Lebih baik bunuh prasangka daripada jiran.

  2. Pat Lu says:

    Off-topic, but it’s a comment on a six-words entry: Spot on. It is indeed Malaysians vs. politicians.

  3. Naoko says:

    May 13 – Malaysia’s still being raped.

    40 years on, Malaysia’s standing still.

    May 13: Antiseptic and tears time!

  4. Karcy says:

    The day a government attacked us.

    A government golem designed to intimidate.

    Forgive all past trespasses. Never forget.

    It didn’t happen in Sarawak what!

    No sex, much lies, no videotape.

    Reclaim the truth with the internet!

  5. walski69 says:

    Move along, nothing to see here

    Boldly leaving the past to history

    Mere remembrance gets us nowhere fast

    Time to right the regrettable wrongs

    Living precariously on a misunderstood myth

    Time to live for the future

    May 13. Excess baggage. Leave behind.

  6. Jonson Chong says:

    Why can’t we simply get along?

  7. Jonson Chong says:

    Let’s live as brothers and sisters.

  8. wijn says:

    Nasi lemak, yong taufoo, roti canai.

  9. Jonson Chong says:

    May God bless us — ALL Malaysians.

  10. shahrulazlan says:

    The rakyat’s united; politicians divide us.

  11. Nicholas.C says:

    Slay the specter of Thirteenth May!

  12. Jonson Chong says:

    I am Malaysian. Are you Malaysian?

  13. Yasmin says:

    Blame, blame, blame. Still no acknowledgment.

  14. N Shashi Kala says:

    “Can’t we all just get along?” (quoting Rodney King)

  15. Melayu, Cina, India, Punjabi, semua manusia!

  16. Vikraman says:

    We need Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    History forgotten, doomed to be repeated.

    Unmask the murder, reclaim the facts.

  17. Jen says:

    Just another day in Sarawak, MALAYSIA

  18. pilocarpine says:

    1BLACK Malaysia, Democracy First, Elections Now

    - from Wong Chin Huat

  19. Hwa Shi-Hsia says:

    Reading Horowitz’s “The Deadly Ethnic Riot”.

  20. Steve McCoy says:

    So terribly useful for racial politics

    9/11 for Bush, 5/13 for Umno

    It happened then … so what now?

  21. Sivin Kit says:

    Understand 1969 backwards; live Malaysia forward.

    (re-adapted with thanks to Soren Kierkegaard)

  22. Sivin Kit says:

    Bangsa Malaysia, One People, One Nation.

  23. chinhuatw says:

    Why? Umno lost 10% peninsular votes.

    Why? Without crisis, PAS would overtake.

    Why? PAS didn’t eye the non-Malays.

    May 13 caused NEP? Opposite direction.

  24. chinhuatw says:

    We need Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    Forget history never. Forgive we must.

    It’s funeral time after 40 years.

  25. Yvonne Young says:

    The truth shall set us free.

  26. Phua Kai Lit says:

    Set up Truth and Reconciliation Committee!

  27. MattF says:

    Can’t move forward without reviewing past.

  28. terri says:

    Did Umno ever change? Beats me.

  29. kuntakintae says:

    National holiday to adjust and accommodate.

  30. myop101 says:

    513 is history, let’s move forward

  31. Hean says:

    An Umno scheme to justify NEP

    Desperate measure by a desperate Umno

  32. paul.Btze says:

    8 March exorcised 13 May already.

  33. yeen says:

    Past tragedy revisited to scare us.

  34. “Ketuanan Melayu” keeps 13 May alive.

  35. Sivin Kit says:

    I agree with Wong Chin Huat!

  36. susan loone says:

    Sorry, May 13 no longer scary.

    Myths no facts, lies no truth.

    Will we ever know its instigator?

    It was the day Malaysia bled.

    Be gone! Get lost! Good riddance!

    No reruns please. Love one another!

    40 years pass, it still hurts.

    Bury the past, move on please.

    Forget May 13, remember May 7!

    I could go on and on… :)

  37. The Lord Panda says:

    Keeps Biro Tata Negara in business!

  38. Thomas Lee says:

    I was one month short of my 21st birthday on 13 May 1969, and I will never forget how I was escorted safely home by some Malay Malaysian men when I had to pass through the Malay section of Lorong Selamat (the Macalister Road end) on my way home on my Vespa scooter. One of them even rode pillion on my scooter to ensure I was not attacked.

    The riot was not racial. It was the poor Malay Malaysians being told by Malay Malaysian politicians that the rich Chinese Malaysians caused them the economic suffering, and the poor Chinese Malaysians being told by Chinese Malaysian politicians that the powerful Malay Malaysians in government caused them to suffer.

    The riot was triggered off by the then massive suffering of both the poor Malay Malaysians and poor Chinese Malaysians.

    Who’s to blame?

    Not the Malay Malaysians. Not the Chinese Malaysians.

    But the happy-go-lucky tidak apa government of the day, which didn’t have any concrete plans and policies to uplift the quality of life of the poor Malay Malaysians and poor Chinese Malaysians.

    That’s what I believe 13 May is all about.

    By the way, 13 May is also my wedding anniversary.

  39. menj says:

    We know who were those responsible.

    May 13th do not repeat it.

  40. Jason Sim says:

    You remember May 13th? I don’t.

  41. Koh Chong Meng says:

    History will repeat itself unless the facts are known and people allowed to take measures

  42. K S Ong says:

    Some started it, none found guilty.

  43. freedom says:

    May 13 1969, Tun abdul Razak.

  44. Jy says:

    The date that made Malaysians ‘kiasu’.

  45. the truth of May 13 untold

  46. james au says:

    May 13, May 07, same family.

  47. Philip Selvaraj says:

    The day we lost our independence

  48. Philip Selvaraj says:

    The day racism was given legitimacy

  49. Hwa Shi-Hsia says:

    A ghost from before my birth.

  50. Philip Selvaraj says:

    The day racism became national policy

  51. Philip Selvaraj says:

    Get out! don’t call Malaysia motherland!

  52. Philip Selvaraj says:

    Why can’t I call Malaysia motherland?

  53. Philip Selvaraj says:

    Learn from history to repeat errors?

  54. Philip Selvaraj says:

    Asians hypocritically accuse westerners of racism

  55. Philip Selvaraj says:

    West openly discuss racism to reform

  56. Philip Selvaraj says:

    The devil whispered and somebody obeyed.


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