Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Why May 13 Compels Us to Vote Opposition

Written by johnleemk on 12:52:02 am Mar 6, 2008.
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In Malaysia, almost every election is replete with threats, veiled or explicit, of a repeat of what happened on May 13, 1969. The events of that horrible day are seared into our national consciousness. Nobody wants to see another case of armed mobs chopping off the limbs of innocents in Kuala Lumpur movie theatres, or bear witness to the indiscriminate rape of women. Nobody wants to see our beloved capital city aflame, leaving thousands homeless at the hands of vicious arsonists.

If this wasn't Malaysia, it would be easy to think that whoever threatens violence to win votes would not do very well come polling day. Governments that threaten the killing, rape and assault of their own people rarely survive very long under any fair democratic process. But Malaysia seems to be an exception.

This is not even a question of a rigged electoral process. Despite phantom voters, I don't think anyone would deny that, save for the 1969 elections, the majority of Malaysians have supported and voted for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. For some reason, promising terrorism in the event of a loss is a sure way to win. The obvious conclusion is that we really do believe another May 13 Incident will break out if we do not return BN to power. But why is this?

Who does BN think will start the violence? Its paid-off Mat Rempit gangsters? It sure as hell won't be ordinary Malaysians. Look around you. Can any of us seriously believe that the Malaysians we see around us will whip out a parang and start chopping limbs off if BN loses the elections?

What is remarkable is that despite the civility of most BN grassroots supporters, BN themselves (to say nothing of their entourage of occasionally violent youths) seem to assume the worst of Malaysians. They assume we are still so racial in our thinking that if BN loses power, Malaysians will start killing people who don't belong to their race. They assume we are nothing more than violent, immature thugs who will murder and terrorise if only we are given the right excuse. Does anyone at all seriously take this as the truth?

If you actually believe this is the case, you have to assume that your Chinese neighbour, the Indian who makes your roti canai at the mamak, and the Malay pak cik who drinks teh tarik down at the warung will whip out machetes and start killing each other at a moment's notice. This is beyond ludicrous; anyone who actually believes it should be certified as mentally insane.

The threat of May 13 should of course worry us all — but only because it comes from none other than our government. If the ruling party truly has our interests at heart, why do they threaten and blackmail us with the spectre of May 13? If this is a government that looks after our welfare, why do they have so little respect for the people who elect them? Do we not have a right to elect the party which we believe will govern us best?

If Barisan Nasional truly cares about the people of Malaysia, it will let them be free to choose who will govern their country. A government worthy of the Malaysian people is a government that does not threaten violence so it can remain in power. That government is not the Barisan Nasional administration — a government which has made its living off threats of violence against the people of Malaysia ever since time immemorial.

It is not the opposition parties who have brandished a keris at the people of Malaysia; it is not Anwar Ibrahim who has threatened to bathe his keris in Malaysian blood. It is not Lim Kit Siang or Abdul Hadi Awang who have said they will bathe in blood to defend their race or religion. No — only in Barisan Nasional do you find such antics. If you really want to avoid yet another May 13, if you really want to avoid the threat of more racial violence hanging over your head, do the right thing, and vote for the opposition.


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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

Infernal Ramblings is run by John Lee. For more, see the About section. If you have any questions or comments, do drop him a line.


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