20. THE BARRIERS | The May 13 Tragedy

The National Operations Council was created to cope with the National Emergency and to return the country to normalcy. Basically, its functions are to:

        (a) restore law and order;

        (b) ensure the smooth administration of the country; and

        (c) restore harmony and mutual trust among the various races.

The first two tasks are very much in hand. The third, the restoration of mutual trust and harmony, is a long-term process. There can be no question of a return to Parliamentary democracy so long as racial harmony does not exist among the communities. So long as communal sensitivities are tender they can. through irresponsible political propaganda, be easily-exploited to precipitate another, indeed more serious, racial clash.

In the sensitive situation obtaining today, the groups than can foment racial unrest are Maoist agents, secret societies and communal extremist elements. At the moment, the Maoist agents have gone underground, but they arc currently busy recruiting fresh supporters and are still planning to stage more showdowns as


part of their "softening-up" process in their final bid for power. They pose, therefore, a constant barrier to the return of Parliamentary rule.

The secret societies, too, continue to pose a threat. In the past they existed as part of the social structure in some Chinese communities, exercising control and exacting extortion money. During the recent disturbances, some secret society thugs posed as protectors of certain Chinese areas. Consequently they gained a certain amount of respectability in these communities. The secret societies are known to be exploiting the present situation for their own profit, either through intimidation (such as extortion rackets, boycott of Malay goods, etc.) or through clever use of persuasion and rumour-mongering.

The third group which constitutes a barrier to a return to normalcy are the communal extremists. They are to be found in all the major communities, and though they arc in the minority they are vociferous and active. They possess a capacity to disrupt far beyond their numbers, posing a constant threat to the racial harmony of the country where no single community is in the majority. Their activities cannot but weaken the nation, and in the process lend themselves to Maoist exploitation.

The nation has moved into an uncertain period, the length of which cannot be determined immediately. It is however, moving in the right direction in that


the National Operations Council--- by the very nature of its appointment above politics—has given the country confidence and a sense of stability. It takes time before this confidence and stability can be transformed into mutual trust and harmony. In his effort to restore racial harmony and to ensure that it would be enduring as a basis for Parliamentary democracy, the Director of Operations would need to consider a series of norms against which political ideas and activities could be measured so that racial harmony could at no time be placed in jeopardy. A number of principles will have to be formulated with the ultimate purpose of sustaining a harmonious Malaysia.


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