Time to bring closure on bitter episode of May 13


  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 15 May 2018

MY mother’s family lived smack in the middle of the chaos that erupted on May 13, 1969.

I have lived all my life hearing stories of that dark episode in our history. Among the stories of chaos and people who never returned home, one always stood out for me.

That day, their little village in the city rose up and looked after each other. My grandma’s home was turned into a community cooking station as my uncles were the only ones who could go out and get food. You see, my grandfather and uncles were cops and only they were allowed out.

So they, a mixed community, worked as one and looked after each other.

But they never forgot the fear. I have been hearing about that fear my whole life. The same fear stopped them from daring to make any changes to the government. The same fear made them convince their children to vote with care, which is why I never thought I would see a change of government in my country in this lifetime.

Every single analysis I have written in the past has never predicted this. But I guess at some point, people decided enough is enough to being scared.

Forty-nine years after May 13, the country has finally stopped being afraid and changed its governing party. And it happened in a democratic and peaceful manner. Malaysians proved to the world that we can do it without rioting.

We have always prided ourselves on the importance of doing it the right way and this is one of our biggest achievements. We have inspired people from around the world, and I have friends of various nationalities telling me this.

Change is important and inevitable. Change must happen regularly to keep the governing bodies on their toes. Let us not allow our government to cultivate arrogance ever again.

The past few days have been unexplainable. It doesn’t help that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has gone on his usual hyper mode and I’m barely sleeping because I don’t want to miss a thing.

My personal wish of this new government is that it would one day open the files of May 13 not to conduct a witchhunt but to give closure to the many folks who were present that day.

May we never be ruled by fear again. For those who are still afraid of past fears that have been ingrained in you, it’s okay. Many of us will continue to be neutral voices that question both sides.

I hope that from today, you will start believing that we are Malaysians first. It is essential that we put the interest of the country and our brothers and sisters first before our personal beliefs.

More importantly, we now have a new date to never forget – May 9, 2018.

VISITHRA MANIKAM

Petaling Jaya

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