By Rahmah Ghazali (Free Malaysia-Today)
KUALA LUMPUR: Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad feels that the Malays should be reminded of the May 13, 1969 racial riots so that a similar episode does not recur.
Mahathir said this in reference to the controversial “Melayu Bangkit” rally, which was scheduled to be held yesterday but was postponed following strong objections from both sides of the political divide.
The former premier was supposed to have attended the rally, and talk about various issues affecting the Malays.
“I (was) not going there to stir up feelings between the different races, but to remind them that if we don’t take care of this problem of race, then we will repeat our mistake.
“But then if I go, of course I would be called a racist,” he told a press conference here.
‘Forgetting it is not a good idea’
The 84-year-old statesman also said that the tragic incident, which robbed hundreds of lives, is still fresh in his memory and he wants to use his experience to prevent such bloodletting from happening again.
“I went through May 13, so I know. I know it very deeply so I think I can help people so they don’t act in ways that will precipitate another May 13.
“But this idea that we should forget May 13 altogether is not a very good idea,” he said.
In the aftermath of the 1969 riots, Mahathir was sacked from Umno over the wide distribution of his scathing letter to the then prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.
In his letter, Mahathir had criticised Tunku’s administration as being more favourable to the Chinese.
Meanwhile, Malay pressure group president Ibrahim Ali and the “Melayu Bangkit” rally organiser Gerakan Kebangkitan Rakyat (Gertak) slammed the critics for blowing the issue out of proportion.
Gertak said that the May 13 date was chosen out of convenience, and the main agenda of the rally was racial unity, and not to create animosity between the races.