As the countdown to the elections begins to take place in earnest, we are getting more and more calls from desperate and irresponsible politicians drawing attention to the possibility of a repetition of the infamous May 13 violence if the election results should go against the expectations of various political parties and interests.
The fact that these calls are directed towards the bumiputera component of our population, are expressed in the national language, and are widely carried in the Malay mass media and Internet world makes me suspicious of the intentions of these politicians who claim that they are simply doing Malaysians a favour by warning of the backlash should the election outcome not bring about a continuation of the present power structure.
To my mind, these politicians are not only applying crude pressure on the Malay electorate to vote for them, but they are also blatantly revealing their trump card – that violence, chaos and political instability will automatically erupt in the event that the opposition parties win the elections.
This blackmailing of our electorate as well as incitement of disruptive and hooligan elements in our society is totally unacceptable.
Various groups such as academicians and individual politicians from the opposition have spoken up against such fear mongering in the recent past.
However, not enough has been done by members of the business community and other professional organisations to speak out against these warnings and threats, although they will be the main losers should another May 13 episode takes place.
Much more needs to be done by key stakeholders to condemn the individuals and organisations making these threats as the risk of them becoming self-fulfilling prophesies increases by the day.
Sharizat’s not so veiled threat
The latest round of May 13 invocation took place at the Umno general assembly meeting held recently.
In that meeting, the Wanita chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil (right) warned that the May 13 tragedy might be repeated should Umno became weak and not be able to overcome its challenges.
That this warning was not made obliquely but was served up as part of her written opening speech testifies to the way in which this kind of desperado thinking has become the mainstream in certain political circles.
What is more worrying is that both Najib Abdul Razak and Muhyiddin Yassin as Umno president and deputy president, and more importantly as the prime minister and deputy prime minister, failed to repudiate or rebuke Shahrizat for fear mongering.
Instead the deputy prime minister attempted to defend the speech by explaining that chaos will be inevitable under Pakatan Rakyat rule.
Other Umno leaders, notably Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein (left), have even gone so far as to dismiss the attention brought by Shahrizat’s May 13 statement as a case of “spinning” and to put the blame on a pro-opposition media and other opposition elements.
“Shahrizat has already told me that this will be another matter that will be used for spinning by certain quarters, just because it coincides with the general assembly”, the country’s minister in charge of internal security is reported to have responded in his dismissal of public concern when questioned about it.
Even if it is a case of overreaction by the media and a fearful public, it is hoped that Shahrizat and her colleagues will not play with fire or pander to the psyche of insecurity found in Umno party members by constantly harping on the possible recurrence of 13 May and even worst, by condoning or justifying violent and catastrophic racial riots as they appear to be doing in the run up to the elections.
Aftershocks of electoral violence
Should there be bloodshed and violence arising from the next elections, it will not be non-Malays primarily who will lose out or be hurt by the collapse of the share market and the larger economy as we see a rush to exit the country by local and foreign businesses and investors.
It will be all Malaysians, especially those who are now enjoying the good life. The biggest losers will be the Malays.
Malays must bear in mind that in the 1969 incident while they may have had less to lose, today the situation is completely different.
There is Malay control of a major part of the commanding heights of our economy such as the banks, manufacturing, high-tech industries, and the largest listed companies.
These gains, which have given birth to the creation of a sizable Malay middle and upper class, will be put to great risk should there be another May 13. They may even disappear as the economic aftershocks and loss of economic confidence spiral out of control.
Another May 13 is unthinkable and unforgivable except to those who are so blinded by ambition and their lust for power that they need to keep reminding themselves and their supporters of that horrific possibility.
However, should it happen, unlike in the first May 13 incident, it will be clear as to who are the instigators.
I trust this article will encourage more stakeholders, bankers, business leaders, academicians and leaders of all political parties to speak out and condemn those who are using the threat of another May 13 if there is a change of government.
The Malays must remember that even if Pakatan wins control of the government, there will be more Malay members of Parliament and the Malays are the biggest losers if there is another May 13 riot.