Why did the 13 May riots occur? Tunku Abdul Rahman placed the blame squarely on the communists and Chinese secret society elements.1
However, Tun (Dr.) Ismail, Minister of Home Affairs, seemed to think otherwise, at least, about the communists. 'Everybody thought that the Communists were responsible for the disturbances,' he said. 'Later we found that they were as much surprised as we were.'2 In a separate statement made soon after the riots, he said, 'Democracy is dead in this country. It died at the hands of the opposition parties who triggered off the events leading to this violence.'3 Later Chinese secret societies were blamed, then mention was made of 'anti-national and subversive elements'.4
But the fact remains, when all is said and done, that in Malay eyes, all of these culprits were Chinese.
The National Operations Council report on the racial disturbances, published on 9 October 1969, which represents the official view, while alluding to the role of the Malayan Communist Party and Chinese secret societies, made play of several other factors. These included differences in the interpretation of the constitution by Malays and non-Malays, and the resentment of 'certain immigrant races'5 against constitutional provisions relating to Malay special rights and the status accorded to the Malay language, especially under sections 152 and 153 of the constitution. Section 152 provided for the Malay language to be the national language (Bahasa Malaysia), and ultimately the sole official language, which meant, of course, that English, Chinese and Tamil would all be relegated to an inferior position. Article 153 covered the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and the legitimate interests of other communities.
The NOC Report also adverted to the stirring up of racial feelings during the election campaign, presumably by both the Alliance
Aftermath | 13 May 1969
and the opposition parties, and the racial insults and threats which were expressed during the DAP and Gerakan 'victory parades' in Kuala Lumpur.6
Although this did not find a place in the NOC Report, there was, too, a reluctance on the part of the younger generation of Chinese to accept the 'bargain' which had been entered into with UMNO by the 'old guard' of the MCA, and Chinese resentment at what they perceived to be the 'Malaysia for the Malays' policy pursued by the Alliance government.
On the Malay side, there was a deep-rooted sense of frustration at being left behind in the modernization process which was taking place in their own country, and a fear that they would be smothered by non-Malays, both numerically and economically. They were determined not to give up their rights and heritage as defined under the constitution lest they should be 'reduced to the status of Red Indians striving to live in the wastelands of America',7 and probably, unconsciously, there was a reaffirmation of their exclusive sense of community now that Islam, under the constitution, had been granted official recognition as the state religion.
In 1970, the government acknowledged that the riots were caused by 'ethnic polarization and animosity', which is another way of saying that the Malays and Chinese did not get on well together, and by continuing Malay grievances at being at a disadvantage economically compared with the Chinese.8
The National Operations Council, which had been delegated executive authority to administer the country, consisted of six Malays and two non-Malays, with Tun Abdul Razak as Director of Operations. The Malay members were Tun (Dr.) Ismail, Minister of Home Affairs; Datuk Hamzah, Minister of Information and Broadcasting; Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Shamsuddin, Director of Public Services; General Tengku Osman Jiwa, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces; and Tan Sri Mohammad Salleh, Inspector-General of Police. The Chief Executive Officer was Lieutenant-General Dato Ibrahim. The inclusion of military and police representatives is noteworthy, and as the council came to be involved not only in reestablishing law and order but also in the exercise of wide executive and legislative powers, which normally fall outside the province of the armed forces, it was to lead to rumours later on of the possibility of a military takeover.
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The two non-Malay members were Tun Tan Siew Sin, MCA president, and Tun V.T. Sambanthan, MIC president.9
The new Emergency Cabinet formed on 20 May 1969 by Tunku Abdul Rahman, as mentioned previously, was superior to the NOC, and Tun Razak had to act on the prime minister's (the Tunku's) advice. The ministers appointed to the cabinet were Tunku Abdul Rahman (Prime Minister); Tun Abdul Razak (Deputy Prime Minister, Defence and acting Finance); Tun (Dr.) Ismail (Home Affairs); Tan Sri Sardon (Health); Mohamed Khir Johari (Commerce and Industry, and acting Local Government and Housing); Tuan Haji Mohamed Ghazali (Agriculture and Cooperatives); Datuk Patinggi Abdul Rahman Haji Ya'akub (Education); Ghafar Baba (National and Rural Development, and Lands and Mines); Hamzah Abu Samah (Information and Broadcasting); Tan Sri Fatimah binte Haji Hashim (Social Welfare); Dato Ganie Gilong (Justice); Tan Sri Temenggong Jugah (Sarawak Affairs); Tun V.T. Sambanthan (Works, Posts and Telecommunications); and V. Manickavasagam (Labour and acting Transport).
The next day it was announced that three MCA members would join the Cabinet as Ministers without Portfolio. They were Tun Tan Siew Sin (former Minister of Finance), Khaw Kai Boh, and Lee Siok Yiew.10
It will be recalled that there was a move afoot at the hurriedly called meeting of UMNO campaign directors after the elections to propose that Malay ministers should be appointed to take over the portfolios of Finance and Commerce and Industry and, in this connection, the assumption of Tun Razak and Mohamed Khir Johari of these two portfolios is significant.
In the aftermath of the riots, there had been virtually a breakdown of social and economic contact between the Chinese and Malays. In June, few Chinese and Indians were willing to patronize Malay shops, stalls or hawkers. Non-Malays refused to ride in taxis driven by Malays, buy batik cloth, or even eat durians, which were regarded as 'Malay' fruit. There was still 'bad blood' between the two races. In the background, the more vocal Malays were struggling to assume control of UMNO so that they could prevent UMNO from making concessions. 'There is no denying the fact that there is a struggle for power going on inside UMNO', the Tunku commented, 'as between those who built the Party and helped in our independence and the new elements, the 'Ultras'11
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On 12 June 1969, it was officially announced that all non-citizens were required to obtain work permits even if they were permanent residents of the country, and aliens would be granted work permits only if there were not sufficient qualified bumiputras to fill the jobs.12 In November 1969, all citizens (i.e. non-Malays) issued citizenship certificates under section 30 of the constitution, that is, on the grounds that one of their parents was a citizen or domiciled in the country at the time of their birth, were required to submit their citizenship papers to the authorities for checking to make sure that they were not obtained under false pretences. Only 95,540 such certificates were cleared by March 1971, and 181,160 non-Malays had their citizenship revoked or were left holding invalid citizenship certificates.13
On 30 July 1969 the Minister of Education announced a plan to introduce Bahasa Malaysia in stages, starting from Primary One in 1970, as the main medium of instruction in Peninsular Malaysia schools. English was to be taught only as a second language. On this time-scale, by 1982 all secondary education, including Form Six would be in the medium of Bahasa Malaysia, and beyond that, starting in 1983, Bahasa Malaysia would be the medium of instruction in first-year university classes, and would be introduced progressively year by year until all university classes would use Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction, except for teaching foreign languages.14
The reasoning behind this was that Malay was regarded as the means to create national unity. While it was conceded that English was widely spoken in Malaysia, it was considered to be 'elitist’, and national dignity dictated that an autochthonous language should be given pride of place. Chinese and Tamil were, in this sense, not thought of as being indigenous languages, and their continued use was regarded as only tending to encourage polarization of the various communities.15
On 18 June 1969, Tunku Abdul Rahman received what he described as a 'scurrilous' letter16 from Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, an UMNO candidate who was defeated in the federal elections, and a member of UMNO's supreme council, accusing the Tunku of being pro-Chinese, and demanding his resignation as prime minister. This letter was leaked to the press so that it received the widest possible publicity. University of Malaya students demonstrated on the university campus calling for the Tunku's resignation on the grounds that he was not taking a
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strong enough line with the Chinese over such matters as education and language, and that he had failed to improve the economic position of the Malays.17 There was a spate of vicious letters which were just as much anti-Tunku as they were anti-Chinese.
Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, a medical practitioner with a private practice in Kedah, was the most prominent of a group of relatively young UMNO intellectuals who believed that not enough was being done for the Malays. Another name mentioned in this connection was Musa Hitam (later Datuk), who had recently been appointed as an Assistant Minister to Tun Abdul Razak.
The 'Young Turks' worked closely with persons such as Tan Sri Ja'afar Albar and Tan Sri Syed Nasir, who were considered by many to belong to the 'ultras' camp.18 Both the 'Young Turks' and the 'ultras' were reported to be anti-Tunku Abdul Rahman and his supporters, and as Malay nationalists they had a reputation for being uncompromising towards non-Malays.
At this time, a lecturer in Malay Studies at the University of Malaya, Raja Mukhtaruddin Dain, came to notice for circulating a leaflet entitled 'Message to the Malays', which was banned under the Internal Security Act, together with the other documents referred to above, for fear of exacerbating a situation which was already tense, and which could easily lead to a further outbreak of violence.
It was clear that some UMNO members wanted to impose one-party rule and exclude the Chinese completely from the government.
It was just as well for the Chinese that all these pressures were resisted. Dr. Mahathir was expelled from UMNO for breach of party discipline, Musa Hitam was dismissed from his post as assistant minister, and sent on 'study leave' to Britain, and the police held the university students in check.19
'The ultras believe in the wild and fantastic theory of absolute dominion by one race over the other communities regardless of the Constitution', Tun (Dr.) Ismail said over Television Malaysia on 2 August 1969. 'The moderates under the leadership of the Tunku firmly hold the view that in the Malaysian multiracial society, such a theory is not just a harmless pipe dream but an extremely dangerous fantasy.
'Polarization has taken place in Malaysian politics and the extreme racialists among the ruling party are making a desperate
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bid to topple the present leadership.
'I must warn the extremists and others as well, that if the anti-Tunku campaigns or activities are carried out in such a manner ... as to cause undue fear and alarm among members of any community ... I will not hesitate to exercise my powers under the law against those responsible....'20
Then the Tunku lambasted the 'ultras' and extremists in no uncertain fashion. 'Firstly I am a Malay,' he said, 'and naturally I am their leader. But I have to see to the interests of the non-Malays too. We just cannot throw them into the sea.'21
The turning point came when the General Officer Commanding, Peninsular Malaysia, took an oath on 2 August 1969 on behalf of his officers and men to pledge loyalty to and support for the Tunku and his government.22
This may well have saved the day both for the Tunku and his supporters (as well as the Chinese), because at that time, when parliament was suspended and a state of emergency had been declared, in the final analysis, power rested with the military, and whoever controlled the military, controlled the country.
The Tunku survived as a multiracial symbol, and a positive step was made to patch up the differences between the three main races making up Malaysia, by the establishment of three new institutions. In July 1969, National Goodwill Councils came into existence all over Malaysia with various local committees. The president was the Tunku who started a six-week, nation-wide tour by visiting Penang, where the state government was in the hands of Gerakan, with Dr Lim Chong Eu as chief minister. Malays, Chinese and Indians could talk to each other again and a start was made to restore an intercommunal dialogue.
In January 1970, the Department of National Unity and the National Consultative Council came into being; they were more formal and had official links with the NOC.24 The National Consultative Council was foreshadowed in the National Operations Council's Report wherein it was stated that 'it is intended after the publication of this Report to invite representatives of various groups in the country — political, religious, economic and others — to serve on a Consultative Council, where issues affecting our national unity will be discussed fully and frankly... ,'25
Its task was to determine 'permanent solutions to our racial problems to ensure that the May 13 tragedy does not recur',26 It
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met periodically over the next eighteen months.
In some ways, the National Consultative Council was the alter ego of parliament, which was waiting in the wings, and it was by no means certain that when parliament was reconvened the NCC would necessarily disappear (see below).
It was a multiracial body consisting of 65 members representing federal and state governments, political parties (with the exception of DAP and Party Rakyat), and functional groups, who were encouraged to speak frankly on matters of national importance such as racial issues and national unity,
The NOC Report had already pointed out the way Sino-Malay friction could be met. 'Citizens of this country,' it said, 'especially those who became citizens by virtue of the provisions that started with the Federation of Malaya Agreement, 1948, leading to the Merdeka Constitution, 1957, should understand the significance of the entrenched provisions of the Constitution. Malaysians, despite their ethnic origins, should appreciate the potential and distinctiveness of their country. The guidelines will be provided by the newly-formed Department of National Unity and the National Operations Council.'27
The intention to prepare guidelines in the shape of a national ideology was announced by Tan Sri Ghazali in mid-July 1969. The drafting was done by the Department of National Unity headed by Ghazali, and the final draft was submitted to the National Consultative Council for approval.28
On 31 August 1970, the thirteenth anniversary of Merdeka, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong formally promulgated the statement of national ideology which was called the Rukunegara. While 'rukun' certainly has Islamic undertones about it, and may be translated as 'fundamental doctrine, commandment, or essential part of a religion', as brought out by Means and Milne and Mauzy,29 it is indeed very appropriate in the context of interracial relations, as it means, too, 'quiet and peaceful', 'like the ideal relationship of friendship', 'without quarrel or strife', and 'united in purpose while mutually helping each other'.30 'Negara' means nation.
As the Malaysian government intends to use the Rukunegara as the basic model for its strategy to bring about national unity, and the principles enunciated in it are meant to serve as a bond to bind together the various strands of Malaysia's multiracial society, it may be of interest to reproduce it here:
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'Our Nation, MALAYSIA, is dedicated —
- To achieving a greater unity for all her peoples;
- To maintaining a democratic way of life;
- To creating a just society in which the wealth of the nation shall be equitably distributed;
- To ensuring a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural traditions;
- To building a progressive society which shall be orientated to modern science and technology.
- Belief in God (Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan)
- Loyalty to King and Country (Kesetiaan kepada Raja dan Negara)
- Upholding the Constitution (Keluhuran Perlembagaan)
- Rule of Law (Kedaulatan Undang-undang)
- Good Behaviour and Morality (Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan).'
The following commentary elucidating the meaning of these five principles accompanied the declaration:
1. Islam is the official religion of the Federation. Other religions and beliefs may be practised in peace and harmony and there shall be no discrimination against any citizen on the gvound of religion.
2. The loyalty that is expected of every citizen is that he must be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong....
3. It is the duty of a citizen to respect and appreciate the letter, the spirit and the historical background of the Constitution. This historical background led to such provisions as those regarding the position of ... the Rulers, the position of Islam as the official religion, the position of Malays and other Natives, the legitimate interests of other communities, and conferment of citizenship. It is the sacred duty of a citizen to defend and uphold the Constitution.
4. Justice is founded upon the rule of law. Every citizen is equal before the law. Fundamental liberties are guaranteed to all citizens. These include liberty of the person, equal protection of the law, freedom of religion, rights of property and protection against banishment. The Constitution confers on a citizen the right of free speech, assembly and association and this right may be enjoyed freely subject only to limitations imposed by law.
5. Individuals and groups shall conduct their affairs in such a manner as not to violate any of the accepted canon of behaviour which is arrogant or offensive to the sensitivities of any group. No citizen should question the loyalty of another citizen on the ground that he belongs to a particular community.31
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In the circumstances, non-Malays could take heart that the Rukunegara steered a middle path through the tangled skein of Sino-Malay relations. A clear hint was given in it to Malay 'ultras' and racial extremists that they were not going to have things entirely their own way, and that parliamentary democracy was to continue and a totalitarian form of government was not envisaged. The Chinese were reassured that there would be no threat to their culture ('ensuring a liberal approach to her (Malaysia's) rich and diverse cultural traditions'), and the direction in which education would be pointed was indicated ('a progressive society which shall be oriented to modern science and technology').
The third principle, 'upholding the Constitution', made it clear that the Chinese would have to accept Malay as the national language and the sole official language, as well as accept the 'special position' of the bumiputras and the legitimate interests of other communities. However, the fifth principle was in favour of the Chinese — 'no citizen should question the loyalty of another citizen on the ground that he belongs to a particular community'.
The Rukunegara was supported by all legal political parties, and its principles became widely known and were often referred to and quoted.
At the time of the promulgation of the Rukunegara, Tunku Abdul Rahman had announced that he intended to retire from the premiership which he had held since independence, and on 22 September 1970 he formally submitted his resignation to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and Tun Abdul Razak assumed office.
At the same time that he had announced his retirement, the Tunku had remarked on the government's intention to lift the suspension on parliament and the various state legislatures in February 1971.
Tun Razak appointed Tun (Dr.) Ismail as Deputy Prime Minister, and Datuk Hussein Onn, who was his brother-in-law, left his private law practice at Tun Razak's request to serve the nation as Minister of Education. The MCA abandoned its decision not to participate in the government, and Tun Tan Siew Sin returned as Minister of Finance.32
Once again the Alliance Party was at the helm, made up as before of three communal parties, UMNO, the MCA and the MIC, although it was now geared toward a new strategy to meet the interrelated problems of the economic deprivation of the Malays and the hostility and ill-feeling which was keeping the
Aftermath | 13 May 1969
Malays and Chinese apart.
The ban on party politics was withdrawn but only after the NOC, with the full support of the National Consultative Council, amended the Sedition Act to make it an offence to question publicly the powers and privileges of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Malay rulers, the citizenship law, the use of Malay as the sole national and official language, the 'special position' and rights of the bumiputras, and the status of Islam as the state religion.33
On 23 February 1971, the new parliament was opened, marking the end of twenty months of rule by NOC decree. The new prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak, addressed the Dewan Rakyat as follows:
'Mr Speaker, we meet today some twenty months late. I regret this as much as any Member of this House, but we all know why this had to be. The disturbances of May 1969 mark the darkest period in our national history ... Today life has generally returned to normal ... (but) if we do not take precautions now, we shall stand condemned before our people as failing in our duty ....'
Tun Abdul Razak opined that the only way to avoid a recurrence of the trouble was to restructure the whole economy so as to eradicate poverty for all Malaysians, irrespective of race, and to correct racial economic imbalance by increasing the participation of bumiputras in the economic life of the country.34
Tun Razak made it quite clear that the return to parliamentary government was contingent upon parliament passing the Constitution (Amendment) Bill which was designed to confirm the NOC decree amending the Sedition Act which made it an offence to discuss publicly 'sensitive racial issues', and not only that, but to remove parliamentary privilege in regard to the discussion of these topics both at federal and state levels.
The Constitution (Amendment) Bill also granted additional power to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to direct post-secondary in stitutions to reserve certain proportions of places for Malays in selected courses of study where the numbers of Malays were disproportionately small, such as medicine, engineering and science.
After several days of debate — the MCA supported the Bill but it was opposed by the DAP and the PPP — the amendments to the constitution were passed by the Dewan Rakyat by a vote of 126 to 17. The other House, the Dewan Negara (Senate), passed it unanimously.35
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With the resumption of parliamentary rule, the NOC continued as the National Security Council, under the leadership of Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak. The National Consultative Council and the National Goodwill Council were amalgamated to form a new multiracial advisory body called the 'National Unity Council'. This new council had the task of advising the prime minister on the sensitive racial issues, which were banned from parliamentary and public debate, and undertaking research in race relations.
In a sense, the new economic policy announced by Tun Abdul Razak at the opening of Parliament was not entirely new. It will be recollected that General Templer, soon after his arrival as High Commissioner of the Federation of Malaya in February 1952, had made reference to the necessity for the Malays 'to play a full part in the economic life of the country' (see Chapter Six). However, for the most part, in the First Malaysia Plan 1966—70, the adjusting of the economic balance between the Malay and Chinese communities was thought of in terms of developing the rural areas of the country, where most of the Malays were found, as opposed to the urban areas, which were predominantly Chinese settlements and schemes for land settlements benefiting the Malays were thereupon devised by the government or quasi-government organizations mentioned in Chapter Six, such as FELDA, RIDA and MARA.
Nevertheless, it was reasoned that the efforts of these bodies were inadequate, and that too little was being done for the Malays, otherwise the Malays would not have been still labouring under a sense of economic deprivation which led to the 13 May 1969 riots,36 and it was with this in mind that a new economic development plan, the Second Malaysia Plan 1971—1975 (SMP) was drawn up, and published on 25 June 1971, with further details and statistics being provided in the Mid-Term Review of the Second Malaysia Plan 1971—1975, published on 20 November 1973. It was followed in 1976 by the Third Malaysia Plan 1976—1980.
The aims of the New Economic Policy (NEP) were given in the introduction of the SMP. 'The Plan incorporates a two-pronged New Economic Policy for development. The first prong is to reduce and eventually eradicate poverty, by raising income levels and increasing employment opportunities for all Malaysians, irrespective of race. The second prong aims at accelerating the pro-
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cess of restructuring Malaysian society to correct economic imbalance, so as to reduce and eventually eliminate the identification of race with economic function. This process involves the modernisation of rural life, a rapid and balanced growth of urban activities and the creation of a Malay commercial and industrial community in all categories and at all levels of operation, so that Malays and other indigenous people will become full partners in all respects of the economic life of the nation.'37
The 'first prong' of the NEP was to be achieved by comprehensive policies of economic growth and development which would improve the lot of all Malaysians, regardless of race. But, in practice, most of the specific measures to be taken for the eradication of poverty affected the Malays, either in agriculture or in assisting their movement from the traditional to the modern sector of the economy.
The strategy to be adopted for the 'second prong', that is, the restructuring of Malaysian society to correct economic imbalance, was more far-reaching as it covered a wide range of programmes to enable bumiputras to participate in the dynamic sectors of the economy.
The Mid-Term Review stated that there would be an increased scale of activities in agriculture and rural development, commerce and industry, transport and the social sectors.38
With reference to restructuring wealth ownership (see Appendix 6), foreign interests accounted for 60 per cent of the total share capital in the corporate sector, and Chinese ownership accounted for about 22 per cent or just under 60 per cent of the total Malaysian share. In industries in which foreign interests were not supreme, Chinese ownership of share capital topped the list amounting to between 40 — 50 per cent. Bumiputra ownership of share capital, on the other hand, was a mere 2 per cent of the overall total.
The target laid down to achieve a more balanced pattern in the ownership of assets in all sectors of the economy was that within a period of 20 years, bumiputras would own and manage at least 30 per cent of the total commercial and industrial activities of the economy in all categories and scales of operations, as related in Chapter Six.
There was great difficulty in finding sufficient bumiputra capital to take up the shares, but the government proposed to overcome this by acquiring shares directly by government institu
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tions and holding them in trust for bumiputras until they were in a position to purchase them with their own capital.39
It was decided that the employment pattern at all levels should reflect more closely the racial composition of the population (see Appendix 1). For most industries, a 40 per cent quota figure was set for the employment of Malay staff although this obviously depended on the availability of suitably trained and qualified Malay personnel.40
Manufacturing was to be the command sector in the expansion of the Malaysian economy, and special attention was to be paid to the creation of a Malay commercial and industrial community.41 The government's policy was to 'bring industry to the Malays' rather than the other way round, and labour intensive industrial projects which provided new employment opportunities in the rural areas were to be started.42 These 'growth poles' in the rural areas were to be enhanced by the provision of such amenities as schools, housing, electricity, medical centres, transportation and communications.
The prime minister appealed to Malays to go into business and not necessarily to aim at 'safe', comfortable jobs in government service, and to pay more attention to science and technology, while not departing from the tenets of their faith.43
It was hoped to bring into being a Malay entrepreneurial community 'within one generation' and, as an incentive, bumiputra contractors were assured of being granted at least a certain percentage of government and quasi-government contracts.44
But by 1970, the number of bumiputras in the commercial sector was still disappointingly small and amounted to only around 24 per cent of the total number of persons employed, and a Sino-Malay Economic Cooperation Advisory Board which was set up soon after the 13 May 1969 racial riots to encourage joint ventures between Chinese and Malay businessmen came to nothing.45
It seemed that in joint Sino-Malay business ventures, the Malay partner was often inclined to assume the role of a 'sleeping partner', with his participation limited to obtaining licences, quotas or tenders from the government, and allowing his Chinese partner to take over from there and run the business. This was known as an 'Ali-Baba' operation: 'Ali' standing for the Malay and 'Baba' for the Chinese.
Actually, this was quite understandable, as there were very few Malays with business experience and know-how, who felt at home
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in the world of finance and business, as traditionally Malays attached greater prestige to working in the government sector, even though it might be only as a clerical worker or a peon (office-boy).
The government or quasi-govemment agencies and corporations had a more important function to perform in the NEP than they had under the First Malaysia Plan, and the Mid-Term Review of the Second Malaysia Plan is replete with acronyms such as MARA (Majlis Amanah Ra'ayat or Council of Trust for the Indigenous People), PERNAS (Perbadanan National or State Trading Corporation), UDA (Urban Development Authority) and SEDC (State Economic Development Corporation). All these bodies were formed by the government to assist and to guide bumiputras to play a fuller part in the economic life of post-13 May 1969 Malaysia, and were all part of the grand strategy 'to restructure Malaysian society' in order 'to correct racial economic imbalance', in the context of an expanding economy, and 'to reduce and eventually eliminate the identification of race with economic function'.46
The long-term plan was to hand over the business enterprises started by these agencies to bumiputras, although when and how this would be effected was not made clear in the SMP. In this connection, it will be recollected that by 1971 MARA had formed and handed over some bus services to Malay concerns (see Chapter Six).
Education as a 'tool for restructuring society' was another matter accorded priority in the SMP. Mention has been made earlier of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill which gave the paramount ruler power to direct universities and other institutions of higher learning to admit more bumiputras, even though their educational qualifications might be lower than that of non-Malay candidates, especially in the fields of medicine, engineering and science. However, there were problems. While the University of Malaya at Kuala Lumpur was able to expand its physical facilities to take in the increased enrolment, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia) and Universiti Sains Malaysia, did not have either sufficient facilities or teachers to do so. There were 8,052 students at the University of Malaya in the 1970-1 session. Of these 1,363 were in Science, 631 ir Medicine, 392 in Engineering and 324 in Agriculture. Universiti Sains, Penang, began with an intake of 60 science students
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in 1969 and by 1970 — 1 the enrolment had increased to 262.47 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia was established in May 1970 with an intake of 191 students. It was the first university in the country to use Malay as the medium of instruction.48
With the reconvening of parliament on 23 February 1971, it appeared to be tacitly accepted by both Malays and Chinese that to question the assumptions of the NEP would only open old wounds and, in any case, the government repeatedly emphasized that in the implementation of the NEP it would ensure that 'no particular group will experience any loss or feel any sense of deprivation'.49 This had to be accepted at its face value and a chance given to see whether the new strategies to promote national unity would work.
What of the position then, of the Chinese after the bloody 13 May 1969 disturbances? The 'bargain' which had been entered into by the MCA and UMNO prior to independence in 1957 aimed at creating a balance which would be adhered to by both Chinese and Malays. This had been shattered during the 13 May 1969 riots. What are the prospects of the two main communities in Malaysia working out a modus vivendi? There are many barriers which have persisted since the Chinese first started to immigrate to Malaya in large numbers in the second half of the nineteenth century. For instance, they do not share a common history, heritage or culture, and even their language, dress, food, daily habits, religious beliefs and economic pursuits are different. They do not 'dream the same dreams'.
By 1971, it appeared that there were three options open to the Chinese in a Malayan-Malaysia. They could be assimilated, depending on whether they agreed to turn themselves into Malays, or they could be integrated into Malaysian society to form a suku (literally a quarter' or 'a group’), that is, a Chinese-Malaysian and not a Malaysian-Chinese suku, which would nevertheless be part of the racial mosaic making up Malaysia, in the same way that Malaysia includes the separate ethnic groups of Sabah and Sarawak, such as, the Melanaus, Ibans (Sea Dayaks), Land Dayaks, Dusuns, Muruts and Bajaus. Or they could remain separate and outside the mainstream of Malaysian life, in which case further friction could be expected which would inevitably lead to further outbreaks of racial violence, and perhaps rend the country asunder.
It appears unlikely that the Chinese will accept the first option,
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bearing in mind their intense pride in their culture. Even in Thailand where the Chinese and Thais come from the same stock, and there are no religious barriers between the two races, assimilation is by no means complete. In any case, in Malaysia, Islam would present an insuperable obstacle, since there can be no compromise over this, and it constitutes the main reason why Malaysia, with its multiracial society, has not become the melting pot of Asia. The third option is unthinkable, and even the most chauvinistic Chinese realizes that it would not be possible for the Chinese to remain as a separate enclave in a Malay-oriented Malaysia.
Integration would therefore seem to offer the best solution,50 and it would be quite acceptable in the context of the Rukunegara where, as has been noted earlier, reference has been made to Malaysia's 'rich and diverse cultural traditions'. Also, the NEP, if it is accepted to mean what it says, makes it quite clear that the government 'will spare no efforts to promote national unity and develop a just and progressive Malaysian society in a rapidly expanding economy so that no one will experience any loss or feel any sense of deprivation of his rights, privileges, income, job or opportunity'.51
Meanwhile, while the frequent verbal battles between the two main component parties of the ruling political alliance, namely, UMNO and MCA, must indeed give rise to widespread anxiety, there is no doubt that the government's language and education policies provide the key to the problem. Although they were initially firmly resisted by the Chinese, if they come to be accepted, they will eventually result in producing Chinese-Malaysians52 educated through the medium of Bahasa Malaysia (the national language) and having a Malaysian outlook, even though this may take some years to achieve, and the way ahead may be tortuous.