Call on Cabinet tomorrow to establish a RCI on the May 13, 1969 racial riots

Shuhaimi Baba should seriously consider my advice that although she prides herself as the original founder of horror films after directing a Pontianak film, she must not regard the May 13,1969 movie “Tanda Putra” as belonging to the genre of “ghost films” she had directed in the past, but must be conscious of a sense of responsibility to the nation especially to the present and future generation of Malaysians to protect and promote inter-racial goodwill, peace and harmony in the country.

Shuhaimi should therefore list out what are the fictional or unverified incidents on the May 13, 1969 riots in her “Tanda Putra” movie so as not to mislead and incite Malaysians resulting in worsening race relations in the country.

This is all the more imperative as Shuhaimi has admitted that the film is a fictional account of events surrounding the May 13, 1969 racial riots.

On Feb 21 this year, Malaysiakini carried a film review entitled “Tanda Putera a double-edged sword” by a “film enthusiast” who had the opportunity to watch the film at one of the previews held for different groups over the previous months, and it is clear from the film review that the film is studded with fictional or unverified incidents on the May 13, 1969 riots which could mislead and incite inter-racial mistrust, hatred and even conflict.

I refer to three incidents cited by the film review:

  1. “Another scene shows a group of Chinese youth urinating on a flag pole bearing the Selangor flag, outside the residence of the then state menteri besar Harun Idris.”
  2. “In another scene at a cinema, the screen suddenly blacks out, replaced with Mandarin words asking the Chinese to leave the venue, which they do.
  3. “A man then shouts out, in Malay, why there were Chinese words on the screen and demands the movie be put back on. Then, suddenly, the remaining audience in the cinema is massacred.”

  4. “Throughout the build-up of tensions and race riots, there is a mysterious Chinese man who observes the happenings. He is later revealed to be a communist leader – indicating that the communists may have had a hand in orchestrating the mayhem.”

I have questioned the historical veracity of the urination incident in the first instance.

Are the second and third “incidents” factual or are they pure figments of the imagination and totally fictional?

In my first speech in Parliament 42 years ago on February 23, 1971, I called for a Commission of Inquiry into the May 13, 1969 racial riots to find out their causes, assess the racial polarization in the country and to make recommendations to prevent a recurrence of the May 13, 1969 racial riots and arrest the racial polarization in the country.

Instead of spending public funds to allow a movie director the “creative licence” to concoct fictitious events purportedly provoking the May 13, 1969 riots, I call on the Cabinet tomorrow to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry on the May 13, 1969 racial riots.

The RCI on the May 13, 1969 riots should be tasked to ascertain the true events and causes of the May 13 riots, who were responsible for them, not so much to apportion blame or to punish the culprits as 44 years had elapsed since the occurrence of the national tragedy in 1969, but to ascertain the true causes and developments to present the historical truth to present and future generations and to heal the country’s worst racial wounds and remove the spectre of May 13 from being used at every general elections since 1969 to blackmail voters from freely exercising their constitutional right to vote or to justify the pursuit of divisive and unjust policies.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah