Sunday, May 20, 2007

My first reading of ' May 13 ' book completed

Just finished reading May 13 - Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969 ( Petaling Jaya, Suaram, 2007 ) page-to-page for the first round. I am pleasantly surprised to see my friend Ian Ward's on-the-ground reports on the riots for the Daily Telegraph in London are also included but I am a bit disappointed by the fact that there is no subject/name index published at the end of the book for referencing.

However, credit must be given to author and UK-trained sociologist Dr. Kua Kia Soong for making no claim to the effect that it is the most complete, definative and authoritative account of the 1969 riots that has turun dari langit and therefore superceded all other books, archives, records, narratives or discourses on the subject.

Former Vietnam War correspondent Ian Ward (left) is, of course, the now well-known co-author of Chin Peng: My Side of History and also Faces of Courage as well as publisher of the late Patrick Keith's Ousted!. I am sure Ian is more handsome in 1969 than this vagabond-like image I took with my handphone camera last year in Kuala Lumpur after we met for dinner in a hotel.

In the book, Ian is quoted as observing, in a news report filed for the Daily Telegraph in London on 23 May, that:

" The initial stages of the government crackdown produced glaring discrimination against the Chinese. Two forms of curfew resulted. In the Chinese district the population cowered behind doors as trigger-happy Malay troops from the Royal Malay Regiment prowled the empty streets outside, periodically shooting into the homes. In kampungs, on the other hand, Malay soldiers chatted and joked with armed Malay thugs ... " ( p.56 )

However, Ian also borne witness to another scene in the almost exclusively Malay residential area at the heart of Kuala Lumpur:

" By the weekend, the steam had gone from the rioters, except perhaps for Kampung Baru where the 'Commandos al Allah', a movement for Malay extremists, had set up their headquarters. There the extremists threatened even fellow Malays, who by this time were openly hostile towords the hooligans ... " ( p.57 )

Finally, Ian's report published in the Daily Telegraph on 16 May on the pressures mounted within Umno for the Tunku's resignation resulted in a diplomatic protest lodged against him by the Tunku's office to the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. ( p.59 )

Progressive Malays against 'May 13' book ban

Mindguards' changed view on British dossiers

Communists played no part in ' May 13 ' riots


Blogger Monsterball said...

Hi James,
Emm..still haven't managed to get hold of my copy.
Ian Ward's despatches were partly published by the Daily Telegraph, so its a matter of public record. Australia's Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age also published detailed accounts at the time from their correspondents in KL.
Surprisingly during the first few days of the troubles, there seemed to be no attempt to restrict the story to one "sanitised" version only. Foreign correspondents did move about freely, but by the 2nd week quite a number were told to leave or only allowed to publish "approved" stories.

MI6 would have had their own sources of information, and at the time, just a few years after the Konfrontasi, they still had extensive contacts in the government establishment and among private individuals.

1:06 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi James
As a close friend of Ian's from Melbourne Herald days (c.1957/58) and when he used to drop in to see me when I was Director of Information Services Sabah in the 70's, I was quite shocked to see his "vagabond-like" appearance as you saw him last year. What would he be like now? Could you possibly please tell me how I may contact him as I'd like a small book to be published.

3:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Looks like this site has been abandoned.Is there an alternative way I can get some information on Ian Ward?

5:27 AM  

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