Below are some excerpts from Chapter 15 of Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s autobiography A Doctor in the House. (MPH Group Publishing April 2011 edition, pages 197-209 refer).
About the aftermath of the 10 May 1969 general election:
<Quote, selected passages>
“In the end, the Alliance could not form the Government in these two states [Perak and Selangor]”.
“In all the peninsular states except Johor – traditionally an Umno stronghold – support for both Umno and MCA had eroded badly.”
“The Opposition parties were jubilant and did not hide it. They behaved as if they had won the General Election.”
“Trouble had long been brewing and some of us had seen it coming.”
“In the two years leading to the 1969 General Election, antagonism between Malays and Chinese had risen sharply.”
“The general feeling on the ground was that while the Chinese wanted the privileges of citizenship, they were unwilling to shoulder the responsibilities [e.g. serve in the armed forces or the police]”.
“The PAP mantle was now draped over the DAP, a party formed by Malaysian Chinese members of the PAP. By persisting with the Malaysian Malaysia campaign, the DAP incited Chinese chauvinism and so helped stoke the fires of Malay racialism.”
“On their part, the Malays became emotional and argued their case poorly.”
“Although the Malays are the masters of political nuance, ironically, in argument, they often lack subtlety and emphasise the wrong things.”
“I had expected something to happen, but nothing of the scale and violence of the riots.”
“Malays outside the city did not condemn the riots even though there was general anger in the community.”
“When I finally made it to Kuala Lumpur a few days later, the city looked like a war zone.”
“Foreign observers had repeatedly predicted that the Chinese and Malays would not be able to live together.”
“I said unequivocally that the MCA should not be in the Government. It had not supported the Alliance and its members (as in Kota Star Selatan*) had even voted for the Opposition, including PAS. … I thought it only right that the MCA leave the Government.”
* Kota Star Selatan was Dr M’s Parliamentary constituency where he was the incumbent. He failed to defend his seat in the 1969 GE, losing the 3,500 Chinese voters there.
“The tumultuous Malay sentiments of that time”
Dr Mahathir was more on the ball when it came to the ability “to see what was happening on the ground”. In 1967 he already “sensed a change in the atmosphere” following the worsening of the relationship between the Malays and the Chinese within the Alliance and outside.
He wrote (p.194):
“I became ever more convinced that the Chinese would not vote for the Alliance in the 1969 General Election.”
About the consequences of the intense six-week election campaigning period itself, Dr M said, “what took place was an eruption of pent-up feelings — of rage in some and jubilation in others”.
Malay sentiments are today similarly tumultuous but the Chinese are in denial, with the same capacity of denying the obvious like how they can insist that the Alvivi Bak Kut Teh is “organic vegetarian”.
Dr M had commented that “the DAP incited Chinese chauvinism and so helped stoke the fires of Malay racialism”.
Deep in denial
Again today we see the identical Malay racialism rearing its head, but the deep-in-denial Chinese refuse to acknowledge their own part in stoking the fires. The Chinese behave as if they are entirely faultless for the escalating racial and religious tensions. They lay all the blame at Umno’s door.
They thump their chest as Firsters and make a show of #sahur.
Dr M had described what happened back in 1969 in these words (pages 194-5): “During those six weeks, the communal campaigning was vicious. Tempers frayed and inter-communal tensions mounted. All parties played on racial issues and the emotions they engendered. […] Invectives were venomously hurled as each side tried to demonise the other.”
Not only should we be experiencing a deja vu but we can further add the current explosive religious issues to the “racial issues” of May 1969.
The Malays charge that the Chinese celebrating the election victory of the DAP, Gerakan and other opposition parties were kurang ajar.
Dr M’s recollection is thus (p.197): “Many non-Malays who predominated in the crowd made rude remarks and gestures. They taunted the Kampung Baru Malays with cries such as ‘Melayu balik kampung’ and ‘This is our country now’.”
Today the biadab remarks and gestures take a different form.
The most insulting and offensive remarks are not necessarily profanities and vulgar hand gestures. Insult and offense can be couched in a different manner without resorting to such “low class” approach. In fact, the insults delivered obliquely and sugarcoated are no less offensive if not more so. The evangelistas are the master of this art.
History is repeating itself
Dr M wrote (p.196):
“The taste of defeat was unfamiliar and it was painful. I was also angry at the Chinese, in particular the MCA, who I felt were responsible for my defeat and with it the undermining of my political future. I felt betrayed.”
The BN must demand an explanation from the MCA on how it could have allowed 90 percent of the Chinese vote go to the opposition and letting the media conglomerate that it owns and that it controls to openly campaign for the DAP.
The BN must dissect the role of the MCA, which is rightly held responsible for the defeats suffered by the ruling coalition in GE13.
The BN must ask itself if the behaviour of the MCA, and particularly that of the Scissorati whom are on the payroll of a highly profitable MCA-owned company, should be regarded as a betrayal.
Most important of all, the BN must learn from history so that the country’s future is not undermined by the Gunting dalam Lipatan.