Although trouble turned out to be a communal clash between the Malays and the Chinese, the security forces which happened to compose mainly of Malays acted with great discipline and restraint. In their efforts to restore law and order speedily, and to prevent trouble from spreading, there might have been incidents where innocent members of the public were harshly treated. But under the circumstances they were unavoidable.
If members of the security forces had in fact been partial on purely racial grounds as alleged by some quarters, considering the dimension of the disturbances and the number of security forces deployed, which was in the order of 2,000 Military and 3,600 Police, total casualties amongst the race which was said to be the "target" would have been enormous.
There were also allegations of widespread looting by members of the security forces, and the Royal Malay Regiment has been specially singled out by racist propaganda. Investigations revealed that from May 13 to July 31, 1969, only 7 persons had lodged reports of looting by persons thought to be members of the security forces. These were isolated cases of
relatively minor nature, considering the magnitude of the disturbances and the number of security forces deployed. All such reports have been referred to the Criminal Investigation Department. Selangor.
There were also rumours and foreign press reports to the effect that victims of the riots were buried in secret and unmarked mass graves where they could never be identified. According to these reports, drunken soldiers and lepers were employed as grave diggers. The facts are as follows: the majority of bodies could not be handed over to their relatives for burial because of the lack of easy identification, the unhealthy and highly decomposed state they were in, the need for time-consuming autopsies, finger-printing, photographing, tagging and other means of identification, as well as the more important consideration of not allowing anything to further inflame an already ugly racial situation.
Police and hospital officials worked on the identification and recording of the bodies and buried them in such a way as to enable relatives and friends to either exhume the victims for reburial at some later stage or at least to know where they were buried. Towards this end the bodies were buried with identifying tags and identical markers above them. One hundred and two persons thought to be non-Muslims were identified and individually buried with identifications over the graves, in Sungai Buloh on 18th, 20th, 21st and 22nd May. There was no means of telling
their faiths. Eighteen persons who could be identified as Muslims, irrespective of racial origin, were buried in Gombak on 18th May. On 2nd June one more body was discovered and brought to Sungai Buloh for burial. Eight identifiable bodies of persons who originally came from non-sensitive areas were handed over to their relatives for burial.
The choice of burial grounds was made by the Ministry of Health based on the relative absence of incidents in these areas. Burial of both Muslims and non-Muslims was done largely by General Hospital attendants, the Sungai Buloh Leprosarium staff volunteers. Malay labourers from the nearby Sungai Buloh Oil Palm Estate and Municipal labourers. They were supervised either by Police Chief Inspector Phang Lian Tuck, or Police Chief Inspector Shamsuddin who brought the bodies from hospital mortuaries in Police trucks. At no lime were soldiers involved, let alone drunken soldiers, as alleged. On one occasion, according to Mr Kok How Wah, a security steward at the Leprosarium in Sungai Buloh, three lecturers and eleven students from the University of Malaya, also assisted in the burial. Mr Kok How Wah was responsible for recruiting the labourers for all burials at Sungai Buloh.
There was speculation that at least two thousand died during the disturbances. This highly inflated figure is
probably due to the unfounded rumours then circulating. and also related to the number of enquiries of missing persons. In the case of missing persons, many were "multiple", in that there were more than one report lodged by relatives and friends for one missing person. (See Appendix for statistics relating to the disturbances).