Half of Malaysians think a repeat of May 13 is likely in the current political context, survey finds

Barricades in Kuala Lumpur during the racial riots of May 13, 1969.
Handout

May 13, 1969 is remembered as the day that changed Malaysia forever, and it’s safe to say that no one wants the tragic events of that day to repeat themselves ever again.

However, a new study conducted by online market research company Vase.ai has found that 54 per cent of Malaysian respondents believe a repeat event is likely, given the current political context of the nation.

According to the company – which surveyed 1,029 Malaysians – 41 per cent said that not enough has been done to address the issues which led up to the tragedy 50 years ago. Almost half, or 47 per cent, of respondents also felt that not enough has been done to help Malaysians understand what happened then.

Additionally, the Malaysian firm’s data shows that a whopping 75 per cent also believe that May 13 has been misused by politicians for political reasons, and 82 per cent think that Malaysia still has race relation issues that need to be addressed.

Sparked by racial and political events, the deadly May 13 incident resulted in the creation of the pro-Bumiputera National Economic Policy two years later, Malaysiakini reported.

Official documents reported that 196 people died and 439 were injured due to the violent events. Foreign sources, however, estimate the death toll at between 600 to 800.

Till today, the ghost May 13 still haunts survivors who lived through the nation’s most tumultous period.

More than one third (32 per cent) of respondents said that they did not understand what caused the incident, while 21 per cent said they did not even know what happened. Around 87 per cent said they wanted to understand it better.

Among those who said they knew what happened on May 13, 1969, the top three sources of information were school, books and social media.

Unity between races

According to the report, most respondents (87 per cent) said they had close friends from other races, and 94 per cent believed there was more benefit when mixing with other races.

Around 62 per cent said society was responsible for the unity between Malaysia’s many racial groups, while social & educational institutions and the government got 60 per cent and 59 per cent of the votes respectively.

Vase.ai said in its report that the highest number of respondents (24 per cent) came from the 19 to 23 age group, while the second largest (19 per cent) group was aged 24 to 28.

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