May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969

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May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969 is a book published in 2007 and written by activist and scholar Dr. Kua Kia Soong on the 13 May Incident of 1969. It was published by the human rights group Suaram on the 38th anniversary of the worst racial riot in Malaysian history, which took place mostly in Kuala Lumpur. The official death toll was 196, but independent reporters and other observers estimated up to ten times as many people had died. Three quarters of the casualties were Chinese Malaysians, and 6000 of them were left homeless after fires. As the title suggests, the book is based on declassified documents, which have become available at the Public Record Office at London.

The book challenges the Malaysian government's official position on the cause of the 13 May Incident. At the time, the government stated the cause was opposition parties' creating tensions after the 1969 elections. In contrast, Kua stated that the "ascendant state capitalist class" in the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the party in power, had intentionally started the riot, backed by the police and army, as a coup d'etat to topple the Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman to implement the new Malay Agenda.[1][2]

Due to the book's charges, numerous politicians called for it to be banned.[3] The Internal Security Ministry seized 10 copies from a major bookstore in Kuala Lumpur several days after the release of the book.[4] Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi later indicated that the government did not plan to ban the book.[5]


  1. ^ "Another look at incident on May 13". The Star. 14 May 2007.
  2. ^ Jeff Ooi (14 May 2007). "Surviving 38 years of the May 13 bloodshed". Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved 14 May 2007.
  3. ^ "New book on 1969 race riots in Malaysia may be banned, officials warn". International Herald Tribune. 16 May 2007. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2007.
  4. ^ "Ministry seizes controversial May 13 book". Malaysiakini. 15 May 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2007.
  5. ^ "Malaysian PM rules out ban on race riot book". Radio Australia. 20 June 2007. Retrieved 21 June 2007.

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