Don't blame Chinese for May 13, MCA leaders say

File photo of Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba with the poster of ‘Tanda Putera’ in the background. MCA leaders have said the Chinese community should not be blamed for the May 13 riots, as allegedly portrayed in the film. — Picture by Choo Choy May
File photo of Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba with the poster of ‘Tanda Putera’ in the background. MCA leaders have said the Chinese community should not be blamed for the May 13 riots, as allegedly portrayed in the film. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 — The May 13 racial riots in 1969 should not be blamed on the Chinese community, MCA leaders have said in an apparent nod to an Umno minister's remarks yesterday.

MCA vice-president Datuk Wee Ka Siong agreed with Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz's view that the Chinese community should not be held responsible for the role of a “few Chinese individuals” in the bloody riots that shaped Malaysia's racial past.

“As I've said, it is important not to make generalisations. We should not blame the Chinese community for that occurence,” he said, referring to the May 13 riots.

“If any individual is involved, that doesn't mean his own race is responsible over that event,” the MCA youth chief added.

He cited the nabbing of suspected criminals by the police as an example, saying that racial profiling would not be done on them.

Wee then said that all those involved in the May 13 tragedy, whether they had started the riots or retaliated violently, were equally at fault.

“And even (if) somebody sparked off the tragedy, the subsequent moves in retaliation by any quarters, that was equally bad,” he told The Malay Mail Online.

Wee insisted that Malaysians should instead learn from that painful past.

“It's more important to take May 13 as lesson. I think we should learn from the lesson,” the former deputy education minister said.

Despite acknowledging that there was provocation in the 1969 racial riots, Wee said there were many other factors including the disparity in wealth and the “lack of trust” between various groups then.

When commenting on “Tanda Putera”, the local film that had reignited national debate over the May 13 riots, Wee viewed it as a work of fiction.

He said that claims that the film was reflective of Malaysia's history would open doors for attacks on its accuracy.

“If you are reflecting history as you claim, then it's subject to criticism,” he said, later pointing out that there were modern objects in what is meant to be a period piece.

Another MCA vice-president, Gan Ping Sieu also said that it is “wrong in principle” to blame any community for the incidents in 1969.

“It is only right not to make a simplistic generalisation over an historical event. Historians and academicians have different findings and views,” he said.

“It is the lessons that we should learn from the May 13 riot that matters,” he added.

He said Malaysians must first accept and cherish the country's cultural diversity, having noted a tendency to look at issues through racial lens.

“We are so accustomed to look at any public matter from ethnic viewpoint. This is most unhealthy and a huge obstacle to national unity and integration,” the former deputy youth and sports minister said.

Yesterday, Nazri said the Chinese community should not feel slighted over the controversial film “Tanda Putera” which allegedly portrays the former as having sparked the May 13 riots in 1969.

“The Chinese community as a whole is not responsible for what happened in 1969, only the individuals, they are the ones who should feel guilty.

“I personally feel that there are many Chinese Malaysians who are very Malaysian and they will not involve with this and they should not be blamed because of a few Chinese individuals who were involved,” the minister of tourism and culture told reporters.

Nazri, who said he has watched the film which premiered on August 29, said it was “well-researched” and reflects the “reality” of the turbulent period in the country's history.

But “Tanda Putera”'s director Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba had last week said the film was a work of fiction despite earlier vouching for its “historical accuracy”.

Shuhaimi also explained that “Tanda Putera” is essentially about Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and his deputy Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman — “two men who gave up everything, including their lives for the country”.

“Tanda Putera”, which was originally slated for release on September 13 last year, was produced at a cost of RM4.8 million provided by FINAS and the Multimedia Development Corporation (Mdec).