17. JOINT OPERATIONS | The May 13 Tragedy

The Military together with the Police carried out a total of thirty-three joint operations to flush out secret society members, thugs, gangsters and other undesirable elements from their haunts. As a result of these joint raids over 2,000 arrests were made by the Police. On three occasions during the joint raids the Military had to open fire to stop trouble-makers from breaking the cordon.

During this period, over 300 Chinese families from the sensitive areas of Dato Keramat and Jalan Raja Muda were assisted by the Military to move to refugee centres at the Merdeka Stadium and the Tiong Nam Settlement.

When the curfew was imposed, everyone was ordered off the streets and had to remain indoors. This order was imposed in all areas except Kampong Bharu, the reason being that the area was swamped with several thousands from out-of-town who had come to participate in the proposed procession and those who sought shelter from the surrounding areas. The majority of them could not be physically accommodated in Kampong Bharu houses and mosque. The only possible solution was to cordon off Kampong Bharu and to treat it as one large curfew area.


Whenever vehicles were available. Police and Military trucks ferried non residents in batches back to their villages. This has been erroneously interpreted as Police and Military collusion with Malay rioters.

Besides actually helping the Police in the restoration of law and order, the Armed Forces were called upon to do various other jobs in assisting the civil administration to maintain essential services. For example, the specialist teams of the Malaysian Engineers of the Territorial Army were mobilised to assist the civil authorities in the operation of continuous water and electricity supply in the Capital. At Port Swettenham, work came to a standstill but resumed with the help of the Port Unit of the Malaysian Engineers and the Royal Malaysian Navy. The Railway Unit came to the assistance of the Malaysian Railways which almost stopped functioning during the first few days of the disturbances. The Royal Malaysian Air Force, apart from providing constant air surveillance over sensitive areas, transported Army and Police reinforcements from Kota Bharu and Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur respectively.

The Kuala Lumpur Municipality were assisted by the Malaysian Engineers in clearing the roads of the debris of burnt vehicles.

A section of the Armed Forces Field Ambulance Company was attached to the General Hospital, Kuala


Lumpur to attend to the riot casualties. The Military also gave shelter to 4,113 refugees of all races in the various Army camps.

The security forces were under strict orders to restore law and order impartially. This they did extremely well.


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