A news report yesterday quoted Marina as saying that the authorities including police were aware of what happened on May 13, 1969 because it was police who issued permits to Umno to hold gatherings and processions in the federal capital, and because of this, police were also responsible as they had failed to control the situation.
Abdullah, who is also the Home Minister, said the duty of the police was to ensure that racial riots did not take place and not to spark off such riots.
He said bringing up again the question of who was responsible for inciting the May 13 incident was not something that would benefit anybody.
"What we need to do now is to look to the future for us to be more united and cooperative, so that the country continues to be peaceful and we all are able to contribute towards the development of the nation and people," he said.
Abdullah said people should be careful about what they say and not raise matters that could contribute to feelings of hatred or racial tension.
I agree with Abdullah that it would not benefit anybody, especially during the run-up to the tenth general election, to raise the spectre of May 13.
Unfortunately, it is the Barisan Nasional leaders who had been the most guilty of raising the spectre of May 13 in every general election in the last three decades.
In the past few months, Barisan Nasional leaders from the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad downwards, had repeatedly raised the spectre of May 13 to create fear among the voters so that they would vote for the Barisan Nasional in the next general election.
On June 9, 1999, in protest at the repeated references to the May 13
racial riots, I issued the following statement:
"The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should set a good example and send out a directive to all Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders barring them from raising the spectre of violence and May 13 so as to create the conditions for free, fair and clean election - especially as he had warned that the next election could be the dirtiest in history.
"The Election Commission should convene an all-party meeting to secure agreement that the next general election will not be the dirtiest in history by working out the ground rules for all political parties to avoid all politics of fear, blackmail, money and falsehoods."
However, my plea that all political parties and leaders forswear reference to May 13 so that the next general election will be free, fair and clean fell on deaf ears.
On 9th August, during his pre-election tour of Malacca, the Prime Minister himself raised the spectre of May 13 when he unabashedly threatened that there would be May 13 and racial riots if the Barisan Nasional was not returned with a strong two-thirds majority in the next general election.
I said at the time that Mahathir had committed an offence under the Sedition Act in inciting a May 13 and racial riots if the Barisan Nasional is not returned with a two-thirds majority in the next general election, and I had called on the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah to uphold the law without fear or favour and initiate action to prosecute the Prime Minister for sedition.
Malaysians are not surprised that the the Attorney-General had taken no action against the Prime Minister!
Malaysians are still shocked as to how a Prime Minister who could talk about Vision 2020 and creating a Bangsa Malaysia could yet threaten the people that there would be another May 13 and racial riots if the voters exercise their constitutional right to deny the Barisan Nasional its unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority in the next election.
Any independent study of Malaysian elections will show that in every election, the Barisan Nasional leaders had been raising the spectre of May 13.
During my first speech in Parliament after the 1990 general election,
I had spoken of how the threat of May 13 violence was resurrected in the
just-concluded election campaign, and this was what I said during the parliamentary
debate on the royal address on 5th December 1990:
"Five days before polling, in his Johore Bahru ceramah of Oct. 16, Dr. Mahathir raised the ghost of May 13 by suggesting that if the Barisan Nasional failed to retain its two-thirds majority, then there would be a repetition of May 13.
"On 19th Oct. the Barisan Nasional and UMNO took out a full-page advertisement in the Utusan Malaysia and on 20th Oct. a full-page colour advertisement in the Chinese daily, Nanyang Siang Pao, to create fear and panic among the voters.
"In the Utusan Malaysia, the advertisement was under the heading ‘Sokong Membawa Rebah’, while in Nanyang Siang Pao it was under the heading ‘Recollection of History’, but both carried the same picture depicting bloodshed, violence, arson and carnage.
"The visual impact of the picture is manyfold greater than the wording under the picture, which immediately conveyed the message that if the Barisan Nasional and UMNO lose in the general election of Oct. 21, there would be another May 13 of bloodshed, violence, arson and carnage.
"Although the picture of violence depicts the battle of Malacca between the Portuguese fleet and Malays, its intent was very clear, for it wanted to cast Semangat 46 as traitors to the Malay race like those responsible for the fall of the Malacca Malay Empire, while the Malaysian Chinese were cast in the role of the Portuguese of that period.
"The wordings used in Utusan Malaysia was modified and altered so that this same picture of bloodshed, violence, arson and carnage served the purpose of sending different messages to different communities who read the two newspapers, but with one common conclusion - that of impending communal violence and conflagration.
"I cannot think of an advertisement which is more racist or inflammatory in its imagery and visual impact in the history of Malaysian media. This advertisement must be awarded the most racist and inflammatory in Malaysian history.
"I believe that no Opposition leaders who had been detained under the Internal Security Act in the past for fanning communal hatred and ill-will, had ever said or suggested anything which was ten per cent as provocative, inflammatory and inciting as this full-page advertisement."
Will the next general election be the dirtiest election in history because the Barisan Nasional would be even more unscrupulous and reckless than the 1990 general election in resorting to the politics of fear and blackmail in raising the spectre of May 13 and violence?
DAP calls on all political parties and leaders to exercise statesmanship on this issue in the run-up to the next general election.
Let all political parties reach a two-point agreement, firstly to end all references to May 13 riots in the run-up and during the forthcoming general election and no political leader, party, candidate or anyone for that matter should be allowed to threaten voters that if any candidate or party wins, there is going to be bloodshed or repetition of May 13.
Secondly, that an independent and representative commission of inquiry be set up after the next general election into the causes of the May 13 racial riots - not so much to find and punish the culprits of a national tragedy which occurred 30 years ago, but to ascertain the true facts and circumstances of its occurrence so as better to avoid its recurrence.
It is an incontrovertible fact that the official account of the causes of May 13 is not accepted by all Malaysians as it is not believed to be the true and correct version.
In my maiden speech in Parliament on Feb. 23, 1971, I said that large sections of Malaysians did not accept the official account of the May 13 riots and that a very different version would emerge if there had been an impartial commission of inquiry.
I agree however that in the run-up to the tenth general election, this is not the right and proper time to deal with the subject of the causes of May 13 riots, just as it is wrong and improper for the Prime Minister or any Barisan Nasional leader to raise the spectre of May 13 to intimidate voters to support the Barisan Nasional in the next general election.
The task of finding out the causes and circumstances leading to May
13 riots should be left till after the next general election. If
Marina has information or knowledge which could throw light on the causes
of May 13 riots, she would then be able to make an invaluable contribution
in the discovery of the true history of May 13 in a more sober
and less heated and fevered atmosphere after the next general election.
Abdullah has said that the police would take action against Marina. The police have the powers to act against Marina if they think she has transgressed the law, but the police should be aware that Malaysians would want to know why no action had been taken against the Prime Minister and other Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders for sedition and other offences for raising the spectre of May 13 in the past few months.