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Wednesday, 12 May 2010 22:41

sabm-may13A coalition of NGOs will hold a press conference at 1pm tomorrow (May13) at the KL-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall with the message Make May 13 A Day for Peace, Reason and Freedom. A number of citizen initiatives have emerged on Facebook (see here and here) to address this episode in history. Blogswarm is another such idea; it asks that people talk and reflect, rather than hide from the topic. FARIDA JIVAMALA IBRAHIM takes that first step and shares her story

Some of you were not born yet when May 13 happened. I was 21.

My Dad was on his way to drop an Indian family friend back at her house behind  MGS late evening when, near Jalan Loke Yew, a Chinese guy shouted to my Dad to turn back. "The Chinese and the Malays are killing each other," he said.

We will forever be grateful to that gentleman because it could have been the end of my Dad, for along the major roads, cars were being stopped, people were being dragged out and slashed and cars also set on fire.

That Indian friend stayed at my house for days in terrible fear - her two young children were with her Malay maid, her husband was in England. Would anything happen to her children?

I often saw her kneeling at the foot of the bed, praying for the safety of her children. She had managed to talk to them once, to her husband in England once, and then the phones in our area went dead.


I heard the gunfire, I saw the flames from my home up the hill from KLSCAH. I lived next to the inspectors' mess and all night long the police sirens and ambulances and fire engines screeched their presence and told of trouble and fights and death.

I saw Tunku, a broken man, weeping for the nation on national TV - his dreams destroyed in the raging fire of hate.

My Dad's Scouting friend came around 11pm, shouting for Dad to open the door. The friend was Indian and happened to be in Pudu that night. He had seen some Malays stranded at a bus stop, he had opened his car door, bundled them in and told them to crouch on the floor. His car was stopped by the crowd carrying parangs, as were other cars. They did only a cursory check and thought he was alone.

Our guests stayed at our home for a few days and we were soon running out of food. My Mum cooked whatever could be cooked to feed all of us - and we managed somehow.

Some days later, one of the inspectors from the mess agreed to escort all our guests to their homes.

When the police lifted the curfew for a few hours, I walked down with my sister to Kampung Attap to buy groceries from a shop. I was jumpy, fearful and the minute I heard the sound of a siren, I was ready to run back but the nice Chinese grocer told me kindly, "Jangan takut."

No, I did not see for myself the dead bodies, the blood on the road, the severed arms and legs and heads. But I know they are a stark reality because my uncle was on vigilante duty and he saw it all.

My aunt and others in the NCWO went about trying their best to heal a hurting nation with food and blankets and love.

Me? I was a coward and stayed home.

When normalcy was finally restored, we knew the official body count was not a true number. We knew mass graves had been dug and they had got Sungei Buloh lepers to do the horrifying job.

I know the horror experienced by those who had lost their loved ones and those who had managed to escape death.

Down the road, in Jalan Kampung Attap, a friend and her family waited for her brother's return. They waited for months with diminishing hope. They never ever heard his footsteps come again.

Tomorrow, I wonder, when people get together for their fun-time, amidst the laughter, the food and the wine, will there be a passing thought of the massacre of the innocent in May 1969?


Because, you see, it was not just May 13. There was also May 14 and May 15 and May 16 and May....

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hannah |2010-05-13 00:41:45
thank you farida for not being afraid to speak up. you made me cry. i will never forget the events of may 13th 1969, and for as long as there is breath in my body.. i shall never allow it to ever happen again. this is my country, the only home i know and no one is going to tell me otherwise,

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Eyes Wide Open |2010-05-13 01:30:36
I never knew there was anything significant about May 13th until my late teens. And even then, my mum had refused to tell us what happened. It was only many years later that I slowly began to piece the story together.

We lived in Ipoh, far from the epicentre, but as my mother's reaction shows - the scars on the nation's soul are deep and painful. May 13th has coloured the way Malaysians related to each other.

We should take a leaf from the Americans and acknowledge ALL of our history, no matter how dark it may be, so that we can learn not to make the same mistakes again.
Estrelita Soliano  - Thank you for sharing |2010-05-13 08:55:27
Dear Farida

It is fitting that you share because you captured exactly how you felt then, in words today, for us to understand.

Thank you for turning out to be a wonderful soul.

Milx |2010-05-13 10:10:36
It's so beautifully described .. thank you for sharing.
luxmi |2010-05-13 10:51:12
When school was over, I drove back home to Lower Ampang...
I had narrowly missed the first of the series of confrontations, in Jalan Pahang...adjacent to the Mentri Besar's residence...
A few of my students in Setepak, living in Gombak and Kampong Baru, were somewhat affected...
The curfew took over...
Please ,please, let's not have another....
For the first time, I knew what it was to be a prisoner in your own house...
Not pleasant at all to queue up for hours to reach the nearby supermarket and find the shelves empty.....

To the youngsters, think and don't be rash...
Jha  - Intersectionality Dreaming |2010-05-13 18:23:59
Thank you for your contribution to #swarm13may! This was a moving piece... I so rarely hear directly from people who were there. I don't blame you for being a "coward" - who could? It looks to have been a very fearful time, and no one could blame regular citizens for fearing for their lives. I'm very glad you told your story.
Anonymous |2010-05-14 14:07:33




Memorable and personal, therefore evoke the old family togetherness and the honest to goodness bonding of family and friends, that seems not quite the same, these days of speed and IT, the spontaneity, the good-old fashioned hospitality when whoever stepped into your home were also part and parcel of family and you readily reached out to include them without questions asked.

But then our Mums and Dads were there and they were specially talented and wholesome persons for prompting these attitudes,

I enjoyed that Farida Jeevamala Ibrahim....though without reminders of the nastiness of the original May 13...for me a taboo subject because I have too much of it in my little head...I crave to forget.

You were no were very human, in the sense that you were afraid and trembled. Only when one can cry and be afraid, does one really mature, after the tears roll, uncontrollably downn one's cheeks at the memory of for instance spilled human blood,still silent bodies of children and men rudely disembowled, burning homes and cars with persons trapped inside, et cetera.

This was May 13th.of a time gone those of us who were able to see and experience, at first hand,we were no cowards. We were brave and lucky for having been in the forefront of happenings, we were being educated that human beings were not born to be haphardardly trammpled upon and snuffed out of their precious alives, by other humans.

They were born to be free and happy, in order to give praise for the chance to be born.May 13th taught us that there is value in humanity, that life is real and earnest and that we, Malaysians will all resolve to hold on to it and fight to make it better, if not for us, for our treasured families, who would come after us, to praise and enjoy life, peacefully on Planet Earth.

Farida, just remember, that whoever calls another Pendatang is talking a lot of puppy-cock....that during May 13th, God forbid it happening again..those of us who had experienced all of its atrocities and lived on this soil to defend our country in whatever way we did and do, are the real and honest sons of the soil of a beautiful land ...called Malaysia.

Thanks...for the memory.


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