Recolouring May 13
By ZAKIAH KOYA and KAREN ARUKESAMY
"Two new books attempt to change the way Malaysians view the date, by replacing fear and embracing the shared values that unite them despite their diversity"
KUALA LUMPUR (May 10, 2010): Anas Zubedy was five years old when the May 13 racial riots occurred in 1969. Yet, he remembers clearly his father returning home in a hurry and locking all doors and sitting up all night with a parang.
"I think if anything were to happen to us, I am sure that despite being the only Malay family in the Chinese neighbourhood, our neighbours would have come to our rescue," said Anas, an entrepreneur and trainer.
Anas, together with academician Dr Chandra Muzaffar of International Movement for a Just World (JUST), are on a quest – to recolour May 13 as a day when all Malaysians should learn from their past mistakes and celebrate by embracing the shared values that unite them despite their diversity.
"When we talk about May 13, what comes instantly to mind is the racial riots. We should stop blaming each other for what has happened and learn from our mistakes and talk about the positive side. We can blame others for what happened, or we can choose to transform things for the better, to be change agents and constructively fill our hearts and minds with what needs to be done so May 13 does not ever happen again, and that no one uses the day to bring about fear and negativity," said Anas.
On May 13, 1969, racial riots broke out in Kuala Lumpur, officially leaving 196 dead, leading to a state of national emergency and suspension of Parliament.
To promote unity and spread the positive vibes of May 13, Anas has written a book titled "The Quran and I", chronicling his life story of being raised as a Malaysian Muslim and at the same time growing up with friends of all races and religions.
Chandra’s book, "A Plea for Empathy – The Quest for Malaysian Unity", is a compilation of his articles on national unity written over a period of 34 years.
"It is an interesting take that we celebrate May 13 from a different perspective as people will always remember it as a day of racial riots – it is a date associated with the shattering of the fabric of our society," said Chandra.
The book dissects various important issues such as the communal polarisation, ethnicity time bomb, solutions to resolving issues in a multi-religious society and Malay sovereignty.
Chandra said that he hoped with the publication of such a compilation, Malaysians would not only have a deeper understanding of issues pertaining to national unity but also develop empathy for one another.
"I hope books like this would be bridge builders and break the walls that divide us," Chandra said.
A plea to celebrate the day with holding thanksgiving feasts can be read at Anas’ blog http://letusaddvalue.blogspot.com/.
The books will be launched on Thursday at Starbucks, Bangsar Village2. -- theSun