I was born into a Malaysia that was peaceful. A Malaysia in 1983 that was growing. In a decade or more, Malaysia would be one of the rising ‘Asian tigers’. I grew up in a multi-cultural Malaysia, a Malaysia that for the most part tolerates and accepts, if not celebrates, the differences between it’s citizens.

I was not around when May 13 1969 occurred. Yet the fear conjured up by May 13 can be felt even today, decades later.

But no one really knows what really happened that fateful day. Yes we’ve heard stories. Yes, there’s the official version of events. But ‘official history’ is a fallacious concept written by those in power. The fact of the matter is, whilst the ‘effect’ of May 13 is quite clear, we don’t quite know it’s ’cause’.

Yet time and time again, I have been told of the atrocities of the racial riots of 1969. A time when Malaysians turned on Malaysians, when countrymen fought on the basis of race. I have been told, time and time again, of what would occur should the fragile balance of the races is tipped. If the status quo is questioned, I have been told that the streets of Kuala Lumpur will once again see blood.

Enough is enough.

May 13 was a tragic time. It was an important lesson on nation-building for our young country. Yet I want to move forward. I do not want to be shackled by the past.

It’s time we as Malaysians come together as one. Not as a homogeneous society, but as a multi-cultural, multi-religious society that celebrates its diversity. Let us accept each other for who they are, regardless of whatever differences they may have compared to us. Each and every Malaysian has a rightful place under the Malaysian sun, and by God, let us defend that rightful place.

No, of course we cannot deny May 13. Nor can we forget it. But let it no longer haunt us. Let no one use the fear of it for their own advantage.

Let us together say that come what may, we will never resort to violence to resolve our sectarian differences. Let us confidently tell each other that the proverbial ‘parang’ will never be used. Far too long have we lived with each other, laughed together, cried together, cheered together, got angry together, loved together, worked together, ate together, drank together, struggled together, traveled together and called each other ‘countrymen’ that we swear that we will never ever let May 13 be repeated on our tanah air. Our tanah tumpahnya darahku.

39 years later, let us together banish the specter of May 13 1969 to the annals of history.

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