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Sunday, May 13, 2007

May 13 Recollections: A Melaka Student

To commemorate the 38th anniversary of the bloody race riots of May 13th 1969, the kopitiam will share one of the many verbal accounts of people who lived through that dark stain in our history.

The protagonist, a Melaka student, was studying with friends at a school on that fateful day. Unaware of what was happening in the country, they trooped off happily home as dusk approached. Suddenly, a Malay man wearing only a sarong came running towards them, carrying a shotgun. He pointed it upwards and asked them to get home - there was a curfew in place - all people who violate the curfew will be shot on the spot.

The students were befuddled. They didn't really comprehend what the man was talking about. So they continued walking back home, unperturbed. As they got neared and nearer a town, army trucks whizzed past them on the way to Kuala Lumpur. There were soldiers everywhere, grim faced and silent. Now with fear the students decided to hitch at one of the student's house (which was nearby) for the night.

The whole night, they saw army trucks, soldiers and many vehicles moving through the silent deadly night. They peered outside the house and was seen by a soldier outside. Immediately he pointed the rifle at them and barked at them to go to sleep. So, they went to sleep.

Their sleep however was interrupted when noises were heard outside. There was a commotion. Many people, primarily Chinese, were fleeing from their homes. Bewildered, they asked some of the people what the heck was going on? Above the din they could make out that a large group of Malay villagers armed with parangs and swords were descending on them.

So they ran and ran to the next residential area. Now at that time, much of Kuala Lumpur , Melaka and Selangor were controlled by secret societies that enforced ruthless racial and territorial boundaries. The residential area which they fled to belonged to another gang. The gang members thought they were coming for a fight, so many people were roused and they started whacking the people who just fled.

Only a while later did they realize that these people did not come for a fight, but were running away from the Malay villagers. Realizing their mistakes, both sides of people joined in fleeing some more. Others, itching for a fight, went to fight with the Malay villagers. What happened to them, nobody knows; the exact number of people killed (mainly Chinese) were not counted and many were buried in mass graves. As for the protagonist, he/she is healthy and alive, or else how will the kopitiam here of this story?

That is one of many verbal recollections of people who lived through May 13. There are many more of them out there. Please feel free to share it here.

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Anonymous said...

I was caught in the riots of May 13, 1969:
I am an Indian boy and was studying in Form 1 in San Peng Road Secondary School.
My house was in Kg Chubadak, Sentul Pasar. As usual on that day, I reached Foch Avenue (now the road near Pasar Seni,I suppose)I saw people running about.
My Sri Jaya bus came. A policeman was pushing people into the bus. I got in and he said "naik, naik". The bus conductor was an indian man, the driver was a punjabi.
As the bus went along Chow Kit area it was about 6 or 6.30 pm. People from windows of shop lots along Chow Kit were waving to us saying dont go, dont go. I did not understand what was going on. Suddenly there was a noisy procession on the opposite side of the road, and people in the procession started throwing stones at our bus. The conductor told us to lie low, lie low. He closed all the windows of the bus. We scrambled to the floor of the bus. Windows were broken. I peeped and saw a man hitting the bus with a parang. Stones kept falling on us . I heard window glasses breaking and glass debris falling on us.
There was this chinese auntie who was croutching near me, crying, tolong, tolong.
Then I heard the conductor say "alamak". The bus sped very fast. Later I learnt from fellow passenger that the driver has been killed. The bus went straight into the Sentul Police Station. We were asked to get down. We got down.

We took shelter in the second floor verandahs of the homes of the police quarters. As I stood there, I could see the Kedai Gambar at the junction of now Jalan Raja Aziz and Chow Kit Road in flames. Police cars and army cars were wheezing past the police station. Some cars had gunmen shooting while they were running. There was exchange of gunfire between the police in the station and the cars that sped by towards KL town.
The station main gate was closed.
A chinese man came running towards the station. A policeman opened the gates and let him into the station, he had blood all over his shirt neck downwards. He asked "apa macam?" A malay police man supported him into the station and attended to his wounds.
While we were at the verandahs, a malay house wife brought me coffee. I wanted to pay her, but I had no money. She said "tak pe lah thambi".
She also gave coffee to other passengers, malays and non malays.
Another malay girl sold nasilemak. I din take although i was hungry because i had no money. I was still in my school uniform and carrying my school bag.
I slept around 2 am. Throughout the night I heard explosions and shots. The next morning I woke up around 6 am. A sergeant called out and said a bus will be going to Kg Chubadak, Sentul Pasar Dalam.
I ran down. Got into the bus. The bus took us to Sentul. I rang the bell and got down at my bus stop and ran to my house. No body was out on the streets. Everybody was inside. I reached home.
My mother cried, hugged me. I asked her what happened. I cant remember or understood what she told me. That night torches were thrown at our roofs from Malay houses behind. I heard shouts of Allahu akbar.

My mother, brother decided to shift house. In the next few days, we moved to (probably less dangerous area) Kg Tunku.

This is my report.

Anonymous said...

Somebody pls try to file the case in The Hague to get the Government of Malaysia to pay the next of kin of the massacre victims in our country's first coup d`etat in 13 May 1969