A planned attack ahead of the public screening of Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba’s ‘Tanda Putera’ is already in play. ‘Tanda Putera’ is an effort to debunk Neo Min Yuens such as Dr Kua Kia Soong’s sordid attempt to distort history.
Dr Kua’s piece in Malaysiakini today:
Tanda Putera: Deconstructing prejudice
Kua Kia Soong • Sep 8, 12 3:13PTG
COMMENT I am in full agreement with the director of the forthcoming film ‘Tanda Putera’, Shuhaimi Baba, that we should withhold any critique of the film until we have seen it.
I have so far merely warned Malaysians about the record of the Barisan National in resurrecting the spectre of ‘May 13′ at every general election since 1969.
Others have protested against some of the images posted on the Facebook for the film. But judging from Shuhaimi’s interview, I am not too sanguine about her impartiality and capacity to discern fact from prejudice in a mature manner:
“When I first read Kua (Kia Soong’s) book, I thought what came out first and shining through was his prejudices against Malays and his resentment against the office of the prime minister then.
“His accusations – alluding to who was responsible for May 13 – that is, Tun Razak, was not only atrocious but irresponsible. But then he knows that, I am sure, since he’s more intelligent than most men, and he does it for effect and propaganda and to rile up Chinese sentiments.
“It was too easy for him. As a writer, he preferred to be biassed and did not shed any light on the riots but even considered the communists had nothing to do with it.
“His obvious biasness – not questioning why in Tunku’s own book, and later in an authorised biography of Tunku as late as 1990 – Tunku did not cast aspersions on Tun Razak.
“There were reports and books written by people who were not present during May 13. Some were based on third party reports.
“Yet in one publication, no mention was made that the writer was not in the country, the author did not point out he was not present but his comments and observations on May 13 were like a first-person report. Complete with prejudices against the Malays and the Malaysian government.
“How is it that this author can be quoted as a reliable source? He had deliberately, too, omitted details of what were the insulting behaviours towards the Malays before May 13.
“I find the NOC (National Operations Council) report on May 13, 1969, may not be as complete, but it was more useful and reliable because they were verified with statistics and signed support reports and documents.
“The NOC report was also verified by a committee appointed by Tun Ismail. The head of the committee was a person of high integrity. So that’s where I am coming from when I say I looked at all angles…”
Prejudices against Malays?
First, I would like to thank her for reading my book although I am very disappointed that she has drawn very odd conclusions from it.
I have read such accusations of my supposed “prejudices against Malays” among the mindless blogheads in cyberspace but I would expect better of an artist who seeks a reputation for integrity.
For a start, she fails to provide any evidence for my supposed “prejudices against the Malays and (my) resentment against the office of the prime minister”.
Many respected Malay intellectuals have critiqued my book and made no mention of it being “prejudiced against Malays”. I may be guilty of using class analysis in my writings but you will not find a more committed anti-racist crusader than me in this country…
The late Rustam Sani (bless his soul!) wrote in his blog on 13 May, 2007, after attending the launch of my book:
“May 13: A Sunday morning well-spent at the book launch. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that Kua had penned a very important book – indeed, to my mind, he has made “publishing history” of sorts.
“I came out of the book launch feeling only half-satisfied with the discussion that took place and half-pessimistic about the future.
“It did not, however, diminish my appreciation of Kua’s book as an important contribution to my understanding of Malaysia’s contemporary history, and for such interesting and thoughtful presentations by the guest speakers.”
Among the guest speakers was highly respected Malay intellectual, Professor Syed Husin Ali who disputed my “coup detat” thesis but he did not think that my book displayed “prejudices against the Malays”.
Azmi Sharom, writing in The Star on 31 May 2007, had this to say about the book:
“As with Kua’s earlier works, it is written in a passionate style that drives the narrative forward with a sense of urgency, so much so that reading it was a pleasure. I think that this is an important book.
“It raises issues and questions that challenge the official story of the riots and it adds new information that is vital if we as a nation are ever to truly understand that horrible period of our history.”
Again, he did not get the impression that I was “prejudiced against the Malays”. Likewise, my socialist comrade MHD Nasir Hashim has not mentioned to me that he finds my account “prejudiced against Malays” because he also subscribes to class analysis of society and history.
I am therefore dubious about the amount and the quality of research done by Ms Shuhaimi on May 13 and whether she seriously read my book.
She says that “no mention was made that the writer was not in the country, the author did not point out he was not present but his comments and observations on May 13 were like a first-person report.
Full May 13 story untold
First, my book uses declassified documents which I researched first-hand in London and made available in The British Public Records Office, Kew Gardens.
That’s a lot of valuable legwork that is potentially helpful research for Ms Shuhaimi’s film.
The suggestion that I was trying to portray this as a first-hand account is puzzling, as the title itself clearly states the fact that such first-hand accounts are extracts from the declassified documents themselves.
Ms Shuhaimi is certainly the first person to make such an observation.
The reason my book created such a sensation was because many Malaysians do not find the official versions credible. Contrary to what Ms Shuhaimi says, the official statistics on the casualties during May 13 are the least credible of all.
I may not have been there but my brother- in -law was a professor at the University Hospital at the time and my brother was a medical student at Malayan University, too.
They saw the number of bodies that were tarred to conceal their ethnicity and they certainly exceeded the official figures. The documents in my book testify as much to this fact.
I provided a class analysis based on the available evidence provided by the records at the time. A fuller story will only emerge with a Truth & Reconciliation Commission when families of the victims, the police, the army, hospital doctors and staff come forward to tell us their stories.
A serious artist should welcome as many stories from the people as possible and not be beholden to the official version.
Tunku’s views on Razak
Ms Shuhaimi accuses me of bias and claims that the Tunku didn’t cast aspersions on Tun Razak. Again, this reflects on the quality of her research and her capacity to weigh historical documents.
Obviously Ms Shuhaimi does not consider the documents produced in my book to be worth consideration or to be objective.
She falls back on the Tunku’s early writings and apparently, “the Tunku’s authorised biography”.
For the information of Ms Shuhaimi, K. Das was the Tunku’s official biographer and they had carried out a series of interviews which can be read in my 2002 title: “K. Das & the Tunku Tapes”.
Yes, a copy of the tapes was given to me by K.Das’ family. Can any records beat these audio recordings done in the twilight of the Tunku’s life when he could finally speak his mind?
Will Ms Shuhaimi challenge me to produce the Tunku tapes to verify if the Tunku actually said these words to K. Das?
“You know Harun was one of those – Harun, Mahathir, Ghazali Shafie – who were all working with Razak to oust me, to take over my place…” (Kua Kia Soong, 2002: 112)
For the further information of Ms Shuhaimi, I am not the first person to see May 13 as a coup detat against the Tunku.
A Malay (yes, Malay!) intellectual, Subky Latiff had already put forward this thesis in an academic journal, Southeast Asian Affairs, Singapore in 1977.
Although I was not at the seminar when Subky Latiff presented his paper, I am sure there were no gasps of “how atrocious and irresponsible!” among the academics gathered there.
Why deference to authority?
We can understand deference to authority in a feudal society. But why do we need to be deferential to the people we elect?
Ms Shuhaimi refers to the prime ministers as if they are deities to worship. In fact, whenever a general election approaches, that is the time when the politicians including prime ministers eat humble pie and plead for our support.
What are prime ministers but the leaders of the respective parties who happen to win a majority in the general election?
If we take the trouble to research into Malayan/ Malaysian history, we will invariably find that the leaders of political parties often use foul underhand means to maintain their political positions.
This goes not only for the incumbent but also for the opposition parties.
My recent “Patriots & Pretenders” gives an account of the way the British colonial power connived to ensure the victory of the Alliance in the pre-Independence manoeuvres.
Take Umno as an example. If political chicanery had not come into play, Dato Onn Jaafar leading the Independence of Malaya Party could have become prime minister at Independence.
If the British colonial power had not backed the Alliance, the Pmcja-Putera coalition could have given the Alliance a good run for their money and we could have had a socialist prime minister who would not want such feudal deference from the people!
The proclamation of The Emergency in 1948 through to 1960 was to ensure the British colonial power passed political power onto their local custodians at Independence and not to the Pmcja-Putera coalition.
Then again, if it had not been for Mahathir’s “tengkolok trick” in 1990, Tengku Razaleigh might have become Malaysia’s prime minister.
Likewise, the arrest of Anwar Ibrahim in 1998 altered the history of Umno and assured Mahathir’s hold on power into the 21st century.
Yes, like any democrat I have a healthy disrespect for authority in an oppressive regime and I would have imagined an artist with ideals and integrity would share such aspirations for truth, justice, freedom, democracy and human rights.
Communists responsible for May 13?
I really doubt the capacity of Ms Shuhaimi to “look at all angles” if after looking at the records produced in my book she still insists that the communists were responsible for May 13.
In my book I have shown that in the Tunku’s broadcast at 2230 on 17 May, 1969, he had qualified his earlier assertion that the disturbances were caused by communists, putting the blame instead on assorted “bad elements”.
Is this Ms Shuhaimi’s own prejudices or does she have stronger evidence to show that the communists were indeed responsible for May 13?
The regime used the communist bogey at that time because it was necessary for it to justify imposing a state of emergency and to carry out the agenda of the new Umnoputras.
To conclude, I fervently hope that Ms Shuhaimi will seriously study my views like any honest artist and ponder the deconstruction of prejudice.
Perhaps, this is an opportunity for Ms Shuhaimi as an artist to be more circumspect – be more of a calligrapher with a deft brush rather than follow the mindless mob that tars and feathers any detractors…
‘Tanda Putera’ is about the lives, crisis and decisions made by two examplry Malaysian statesmen and nationalists, Tun Haji Abdul Razak Hussein and Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman between May 1969 and January 1976. Both them selflessly attended to the nation’s needs first, from the midst of racial riots instigated by radicals and extremists, to the reconstruction of the ‘nation after the inferno’ with a new economic development plan to correct the socio-economic imbalance. That is not withstanding the re-emergence of Communist Terrorism dubbed ‘Second Emergency’ in 1968.
Both men were suffering terminal ailments in secret and succumbed to the deaths, not having to fulfill all their ‘transformation’ plan through.
Nothing about the film is about ‘fanning anti Chinese sentiments’. Infact, Dr Kua has yet to watch the film. And yet, he already took wild pot shots against something he has yet to even go through.
There are still persons of prominence and stature in society today, having illustriously served the armed forces and security services since the times of Emergency and Second Emergency. To quote someone who was on duty during the bloody 13 May 1969 incident, was part of the NOC and still alive today as a point of referral in case Dr Kua really wanted to learn the truth as it happened and actually was privileged to see ‘Tanda Putera’, “The 11 and 12 May (1969) processions longer and wended through more areas. ‘Tanda Putera’ racial clashes scene are tame compared to the real stuff which took place in three major areas (1) In front of Setapak theatre starting with jeering (2) In front of Dato’ Harun Idris’s MB Residence which exploded a running attack along Jalan Raja Muda (3) Later, at Ujung Pasir but were late because military were already deployed there. However, the Chinese had already attack the Malays in and around the Odeon and Federal theaters”.
However, Dr Kua Kia Soong never intended to tell the truth. In his ‘May 13’ book, SUARAM Supremo Dr Kua used the unsubstantiated facts based on reports of diplomatic missions and wires sent to their bosses on their made up figures of the dead during the bloody racial riots of 13 May 1969, to sensationalise the manipulation he created that the racial riot was Tun Razak’s opportunity to oust Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj. According to Dr Kua, the Malays were instigated by pro-Tun Razak nationalists to attack the urban Chinese and thus create the state of emergency. This was the coup d’etat that Tun Razak and his cohorts planned.
The fact remains Dr Kua did not in anyway provided facts as per presented in the National Operation Council (NOC) report on the ’13 May Tragedy’ dated 9 October 1969, chronologically account all the issues and events preceding the racial riots. It also accounted the official number of record of deaths which were substantiated Police, hospitals and Red Cross reports. However, in his attempt to demonise Shuhaimi’s effort to debunk his book, made referral from known leftists instead of officials who were part of NOC till it was disbanded on 17 February 1971 and the Federal Government with mandate in Parliament came back into life on 23 February 1971.
What Shuhaimi portrayed about the ‘Politics of Hatred’ by Chinese Chauvinists DAP, radicals and Min Yuens in ‘Tanda Putera’, is very much re-emerging today. Still in the form of DAP, but also in pro-Opposition NGOs such Suaram, Bersih, ABU, MCLM and the likes of them, which include Bar Council.
The recent ‘Janji Bersih’ do on 30 August, continuous insults against the symbols of this nation, Opposition’s expressed intent of ‘Malaysian Spring’, Seksualiti Merdeka, prosetlysation of Muslims, M Manoharan’s utterance against Jalur Merdeka, the ‘vow’ at Red Rock Hotel, Penang 5 May 2011, the attempt to bring back to Malaysia Chin “Butcher of Malay” Peng, simply wrap every messages what ‘Tanda Putera’ wanted to send to a wider audience of ‘Middle Malaysians’.
Dr Kua made referral to Putera-AMCJA. They were leftists and some of the advocates of the movement actually supported the Communist Party of Malaya. Putera-AMCJA only had a small support from Malayans. Majority of Malayans, were supporting UMNO. UMNO was a very successful political force that managed to over turn the Malayan Union, even after all nine HRH Malay Rulers signed the Whitehall lopsided agreement obtained via deception.
As the result of that, British negotiated with HRH Malay Rulers where UMNO was accorded an observer status. The outcome of that was the ‘Treaty of Malaya’ inked on 21 January 1948 and came into force on 1 February 1948. In that treaty, the definition of persons deemed to be subjects of HRH Malay Rulers were outlined.
On 21 Jan 1948, the Federation Treaty was signed (and eventually came to force on 1 Feb 1948) by British High Commissioner, representatives of HRH Rulers and UMNO and adopted the pre-1941 status quo. There were specific mention of Article 12 on citizenship, item (a) “Any subjects of HRH Malay Rulers who were born on on before the date”, (b) “Any British subjects who were born in the Strait Settlements on or before that date”, (c) “Any persons which was born on or before the date in any of the Malay States within the Federation who is practicing the Malay culture and speak the Malay language”.There was specific provision for the application to be citizens, which clearly state the requirement to be verse in Malay. No provisions for the rights of the Non Malays were mentioned. This was the basis of the Federation of Malaya Constitution, which came into affect on 31 August 1957.
It was necessary for Neo Min Yuens like Dr Kua to promote Putera-AMCJA since majority of the Non Malays, which probably his ancestors were deemed ‘Stateless Persons’ at that point. It because historically proven that the fundamentals of this nationhood rest in the hands of nationalists within UMNO. In the spirit of ‘power share’ UMNO gave a handful of Malay-majority seats to MCA and MIC in a newly formed Alliance Party and swooped the Federal Assembly general elections. UMNO, contested in 35 out of 52 seats in that GE and won every seat accept one.
It was the ‘social contract’ post 1955 GE where UMNO convinced HRH Malay Rulers to relinquish their first-right-refusal of the rule over this nation in favour of Westminster-styled Constitution Monarchy and the Non Malays were accepted as citizens accorded with rights as Malayans. In honouring HRH Malay Rulers’ compromise to absolute power, Special Malay Rights such articles 152, 153 and Islam as the religion of the Federation were incorporated into the Federation of Malaya Constitution.
Shuhaimi Baba was also the film maker who produced Hati Malaya 1957, which was released in 2007. It was about the nationalists’ struggle for Kemerdekaan, in the midst of a brutal insurgent war against the Communist Party of Malaya. 18,000 Malayans lost their lives in the 12 years rebellion, where the protagonists within Putera-AMCJA were secretly supporting the ‘Butchers of Malaya’ terrorist reign.
What the Min Yuens stood for, was carried through the ‘Second Emergency’ which was carried out by the armed CPM rebels in 1968. It was a year after DAP was formed in Federation of Malaysia, two years after Singapore was expelled from the federation on 9 August 1965. The radicals (by now masquerading via the form of labour unions) and Chinese Chauvinists DAPsters, instigated the Non Malays particularly the low middle class urban and suburban Chinese with sheer provocation and rise against the Alliance Party administration which was led by UMNO leaders. That escalated into a point of no return in hours before the 1969 third general elections.
When the 3GE resulted in a standoff in Selangor, the Chinese Chauvinist DAPsters and radicals decided to provoke the Malays of Kampung Baru further with the post election parade. When Malays were beaten in High Street Setapak, hell broke lose and Kuala Lumpur-Petaling Jaya saw the bloodiest racial fightings and riots for the next three days.
That prompted then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman to declare the Parliament suspended and the nation was in a state of emergency. An NOC was appointed, to replace the function of the Federal Government. Deputy Prime Minister Tun Razak was appointed Director of NOC and Home Minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman made a member, along with other personalities which include Chief of Defense Forces Jen Ibrahim Ismail and IGP Mohamad Salleh Ismail.
This is what ‘Tanda Putera’ chronologically portrayed in the first quarter of the film.
The demonisation of law enforcement agencies such as Royal Malaysian Police, MACC, the Armed Forces and others is part of the ‘Politics of Hatred’ strategy. Teoh Beng Hock’s suicide is being manipulated even after all sorts of enquiries carried out.
The Oppositions have no ability via the democratic process to capture the imagination, hearts and support of the majority, in their effort to come to power. The past electoral term in four states, which include the wealthiest, is the proof that they cant manage. Let alone bring progress.
Therefore, the only way they can get the power they crave is through manipulate, spin and fabricate. The Neo Min Yuens also adopted ‘Offense is the best Defense’ strategy, probably because they have dark pasts to hide which include how they were formed as a political party to carry on part of the socialists’ (aka communists!) struggle to impose themselves against the will of the majority. Communist Party of Malaya, like some of the leftists which were protagonists in the Putera-AMCJA struggle were outlawed, declared illegal organizations and banned.
There is also the likeliness that Neo Min Yuen friends of the likes of DAP Supremo Lim Kit Siang and Dr Kua Kia Soong were collaborators to the acts of terrorism such as the assassinations of IGP Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim on 7 June 1974 and Perak CPO Tan Sri Khoo Chong Kong 13 November 1975.
Neo Min Yuens such as Dr Kua and Lucifer of Anarchy such as Anwar Ibrahim, have been at this for a while now. They are very afraid the majority of Malaysians now understand the truth how and what actually happened before and on 13 May 1969, what it took to correct the dark bloody incident and the challenges the nation had to face in the process, and most importantly, how Malaysia changed there on.
The fact is that Dr Kua has been manipulating facts and even fabricate some of them, to justify his make-believe charge. His books ‘May 13’ and ‘Questioning Arms Spending in Malaysia’. His NGO SUARAM’s poor attempt to tarnish the good name of Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak in the over-sensationalise fabrication of corruption-turned-murder in the acquisition of the two Perdana Class Scorpene submarines from DCNS, France.
So far those who had the privilege to watch ‘Tanda Putera’ in it series of pre-screening show, even the random youths were flabbergasted of Malaysia’s dark past. The Non Malays who watched this swore not to allow the repeat of the dark events.
‘Tanda Putera’ is about unfolding and putting everything where it should be, once and for all. Only those who fear the truth will fear the history, as it happened.
*Updated 300am 10 September 2012
Please also read Captain John F Seademon’s take on Putera-AMCJA and attempt to distort history.