Monday, May 26, 2014


Tan Siew Sin, the son of the founder of MCA, Tan Cheng Lock, was elected the Representative for Melaka in 1955. In 1959 he became Malaysia’s Finance Minister and in 1961 the MCA President. He retired from both positions in 1974 due to health reasons and died in 1988.
Of course most of you already know that snippet in history because this is in all the history books. The reason I mention this is so that I can talk about not what you already know but what you do not know yet.
If you have read my previous article (READ HERE) then you would be aware that in 1965, at the time that Siew Sin was the Finance Minister and MCA President, the First Bumiputera Economic Congress was organised which resulted in the creation of many institutions, both educational as well as financial, all meant to assist the Bumiputeras and help them ‘catch up’.

Now, if you were my age, 63, you would have the advantage of being able to speak to many people who were around since the First World War and/or Second World War. And I have had the pleasure of speaking to many people that include but not restricted to Dato’ Andika (the founder of Umno Terengganu who died a few years ago at the age of 100), Tun Ghazali Shafie (the man who almost became Prime Minister instead of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad), a certain High Court judge and President of MCOBA (who was sacked for opposing Dr Mahathir), Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Chinese secretary (who hated Tun Razak like crazy for what this Chinese man said was the Tun’s role in ‘May 13’), the economic adviser to Lim Goh Tong of Genting fame, Ling Liong Sik (one-time President of MCA), and many more.
So you see, age does have its advantages because you are then able to speak to people who were born 100 years ago and who can help fill in the gaps, many gaps indeed, in the Malaysian history books and learn about Malaysia’s untold story that would remain untold if not for these people.
Anyway, the reason I raise this is because we are living with the fallacy that ‘May 13’ resulted in the New Economic Policy and that the 13th May 1969 race riot was due to the dissatisfaction of the Malays at being ‘left behind’. This is not the whole truth.
As I said, the Malay elite already knew that the Malays were being left behind and, therefore, something needed to be done to assist the Malays and allow them to catch up both in the academic and economic fields. And this was the reason for the 1965 Bumiputera Economic Congress.
But it was not only the Malays who realised this and wanted to do something about it. The Chinese, too, realised this and wanted to do something to help the Malays. So a group of Chinese businessmen and corporate players met up with Siew Sin to discuss with the then MCA President and Finance Minister a plan on how to help the Malays before this issue became a real problem. At that time it was not a problem yet but would be if nothing were done.
Okay, to cut a long story short, in the mid-1960s, before May 13 happened, the Malays and Chinese were aware that Malaysia was heading for a problem if they did not wake up and both the Malays and Chinese sat down to see what could be done about the matter.
Hence, my ‘personal’ conclusion, which probably many renowned historians would disagree with mainly because I do not have a PhD to my name, is that May 13 did not have to happen. The Chinese as well as the Malays were already looking into the ‘problem’ so in time we would have seen the result. After all, social re-engineering takes time, sometimes decades, so you can’t expect results in just four or five years. You need 20 or 30 years to see the result.
But then May 13 did happen, and the historians blame this on the fact that the Malays were unhappy because they were being left behind and that no one cared or did anything about it.
That is the part I would like to disagree with. The Malay and Chinese elite were aware and werestarting to do something about it. So they did care and they knew that if they did not attempt a solution the future for Malaysia can only be one of turmoil.
So why did we need May 13 and the New Economic Policy that followed? According to Tunku Abdul Rahman, some ‘elements’ in Umno planned May 13 so that they could oust him. This was what the Tunku said and history will have to be the judge as to whether the Tunku is correct.
Anyway, what I see happening in Malaysia today is exactly what I saw almost 50 years ago when I was still just a teenager. Almost 50 years ago the Prime Minister was accused of being ‘too soft’ and of ‘giving in’ to the non-Malays, in particular the Chinese. A group of radicals then emerged that Umno and the Prime Minister could not control. The non-Malays threw insults and called Umno and the Umno Malays all sorts of nasty names. Malaysia became very badly divided and the election that followed almost brought Umno down. Thereafter the radicals took to the streets to ‘save’ the Malays and ‘restore’ Malay political power and the Prime Minister was successfully ousted soon after that.
Now, if I wanted to bring down Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak I would do exactly what they did to Tunku Abdul Rahman almost 50 years ago. And what I see in Malaysia today is a repeat of what I saw almost 50 years ago. And the beautiful thing is the Malays, Chinese and Indians are falling into the same trap that they got snared in almost 50 years ago.
The veterans tell me that the nationalists in Umno masterminded what happened almost 50 years ago and that Dr Mahathir was the ‘Ghurkha’ tasked with the job of making it all happen. I wonder who is the mastermind today and who the Ghurkha is.
Interesting, is it not? And don’t they say that history always repeats itself? So maybe those Malays, Chinese and Indians who are screaming so much and who are throwing insults at each other may want to ponder whether they are just pawns in a game of thrones that will eventually result in Najib’s ouster and see the extremists take over the country.
Anyway, I know it is useless to suggest that we take Najib’s side in this whole thing because most of you will not agree and you want Najib to fall. And if I do suggest this, your response would be that Najib has bought me off. So better I not suggest we take sides. My only question is: if or when they manage to oust Najib, who will be the one taking over?
That, I think, is something most interesting. Of course, we assume that if Najib falls then Anwar Ibrahim will be taking over. Are we so sure of that? If Najib falls and Anwar does not take over then who will be taking over instead?
Sleep on that one my fellow Malaysians.