Although by 3.30 p.m. on May 13, Selangor Police Headquarters had heard rumours of the possibility of an outbreak of violence, the evidence available then pointed to a peaceful procession. but one that could respond in kind if attacked. The rumours also indicated that there was a likelihood of the procession being attacked by certain Chinese elements in the Jalan Chow Kit and Suleiman Court areas. The Police assessed that trouble, if at all, would break out only if the procession was attacked and. in any case, was unlikely to occur until the procession had moved out of Jalan Raja Muda at 7.30 p.m. that evening. Accordingly, Police deployment was geared to prevent any attack on or by the procession from 7.30 p.m. in the sensitive areas. In this way it was assessed that the procession could complete its route without any mishap, provided that sufficient Police forces were deployed before 7.30 p.m.
By 7.00 p.m. a full half-hour before the scheduled procession. Federal Reserve Units were positioned in these areas. One Troop of these riot control experts was in position on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman/Jalan Chow Kit junction by 6.35 p.m., having passed the Mentcri Bcsar's residence at 6.30 p.m. and noting no acts of violence there at that time. Another Troop arrived at the Menteri Besar's residence at 6.50 p.m.
by which time three persons were already dead along Jalan Raja Muda. One Troop was deployed at Jalan Bukit Bintang. and two Troops were in readiness at the nearby Police Depot. The personnel of each Troop was made up of forty percent Chinese and sixty percent non-Chinese officers.
Six mobile Police vehicles were deployed: the first at Leboh Raya Foch, the second at Bulatan Raja Muda, the third in Kampong Bharu, the fourth in Kampong Pandan. the fifth in Pudu and the sixth in the Jalan Pekeliling/Jalan Pahang area. In addition, ten units of Police Light Strike Forces in vehicles were deployed: three in the Jalan Bandar area, two in the Pudu/Cheras area, two in the Jalan Campbell area, one in the Jalan Pekeliling area and two in the Brickfields area. It was assessed that with these forces stringed out in these areas from 7.00 p.m., no mischief-makers would dare attack the procession or attack from the procession. The tragedy was that the first incident occurred both outside the expected areas and long before the expected time.
The Police decision not to cancel the licence issued for the proposed UMNO victory procession was not easily made. It was based on three principal considerations. The DAP and the Gerakan had both held their licensed as well as unlicensed processions from 11th to 12th May, 1969, extending into the early hours of May 13. Secondly, Malay feelings in the Capital, as a result of two days of racial insults were running high,
and to cancel the licence at that stage would inevitably precipitate to racial trouble. Finally, it was assessed that the best guarantee against an outbreak of trouble was in a properly controlled procession.
Once violence broke out. Police action was prompt. Every available man was mustered, detailed and deployed, including the Federal Police Headquarters and Federal Depot staff. Recruits under training relieved experienced Depot guards who in turn were deployed on the ground. Even members of the Royal Malaysia Police Band were re-equipped for a Public Order role and rushed to the scenes of disturbances. However, due to the fact that incidents were scattered in various parts of Kuala Lumpur, the Police were fully stretched particularly before the deployment of the Army in sensitive areas at 10.00 p.m., and the arrival of Police reinforcements from Ipoh in the early hours of 14th May. A large portion of available Police resources was committed to rescue work, the escort of stranded persons in sensitive areas and the guarding of vital installations against sabotage. A thousand and one errands of mercy were run, hampering to some extent the efforts to deal with the actual outbreak of lawlessness.
Police movements to deal with the rioters and protect the population were not made easier by the erection of strong road barriers by some Chinese in various parts of the City, affected and unaffectcd alike, as well as by the initially hostile attitude adopted towards the Police by
some Chinese crowds--- an attitude nurtured by irresponsible non-Malay Opposition politicians during the long election campaign.
Based on Police assessment, Headquarters of the Kuala Lumpur Military Garrison (which is responsible for the security of the Capital) was alerted from 3.30 p.m. The Battalion Commander first came to know of the disturbances, and of the "Security Red" situation in Kuala Lumpur at 6.47 p.m. Curfew was declared at 8.00 p.m. Due to the gravity of the situation, the Military had to be called in to assist. Permission for troops to he engaged was personally given by the Hon'ble the Deputy Prime Minister.
When the Army was first called in, it deployed a company of the Royal Malay Regiment for stationary duty to man three Road Control Points. They were not involved in a mobile law enforcement role. Subsequently, another company was brought in. On its way this company had to relieve the Salak South Police Station from a large force of armed Chinese who attempted to overrun it. After relieving the Station from siege, and on the arrival of Police reinforcements a sub-unit of this company was directed to Pudu Lane to rescue a Police Light Strike Force which was under attack by a large force of Chinese. The Chinese mob refused to disperse and gun fire had to be directed against them before they finally dispersed.
In the meantime, the areas of Kampong Bharu and Jalan Chow Kit were getting out of control and the
Army was called in to assist the Police to restore law and order. The first time that a company was sent into the area was at about 10.00 p.m, The company immediately manned the Road Control Points at the junction of Jalan Hale and Jalan Raja Muda and the Bulatan Jalan Raja Muda. When they arrived in the area the shop-houses and overturned vehicles were already burning. Dead and wounded were scattered about.
A section from the company was detailed to investigate the Jalan Perkins area where it was reported that a clash between groups of Chinese and Malays was imminent. When the section arrived there, they managed to persuade the Malay crowd to remain in their Kampong but the Chinese group became even more aggressive. A Chinese was seen shooting away with a shotgun. The section had no alternative but to open fire. This was done after they had given repeated warnings for the crowd to disperse. In this particular incident, the Military inflicted the largest number of casualties. 11 killed, in the whole period of the trouble. The incident took place at about 12.15 a.m. on the morning of 14th May.
There were other occasions during the next few days when the Military had to open fire and inflict casualties but this was against snipers and trouble-makers who broke the curfew, and the numbers involved were one or two at a time. In all cases, the casualties were taken to the hospital and the matter reported to the Police.
The total number of casualties known to have been inflicted by the Army was 41 including both killed and wounded.
The situation in the Capital had by then become increasingly uncontrollable and in order to deal with the situation effectively, it was decided to divide the City into two zones with the Military taking over the responsibility of the area East of the Gombak River which included such areas as Kampong Bharu, Chow Kit and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. More Police and Military reinforcements were brought in from outside into Kuala Lumpur. Apart from separating rioters and enforcing the curfew, the security forces had also to cope with sniper fire. On several occasions Military patrols were shot at by groups of Chinese armed with shot guns and pistols. Outside Kampong Dato Keramat, for example, a Military patrol was shot at by a group of Chinese; the patrol returned the fire, killing one. The rest fled.