This is the first publication on the racial violence that was unleashed by organized thugs against ethnic Indians at Kampung Medan, Petaling Jaya which started on March 8, 2001. For this racial violence to happen more than thirty years after “May 13” is a scandal and an indictment of Malaysia’s modern day institutions which are still steeped in racism and racial discrimination.
Just as the “May 13” pogrom was allowed to go on for weeks in 1969 when it should have been nipped in the bud right at the start, the Kampung Medan violence should not have been allowed to go on for as many days as it did. Clearly, there is a serious credibility problem surrounding our law enforcement and security forces. Eyewitness accounts show that in some of the racial attacks there, the police just stood by without stopping and apprehending the thugs.
In recent years, a pattern has emerged of ethnic Indians who are a minority community in this country (less than 10% of the total population) finding themselves the majority in official statistics on deaths in police shootings. These facts reflect the racist portrayal of the marginalized Indian community in the state institutions.
S. Nagarajan & K. Arumugam have written this important record of another tragic and shameful episode in our country’s history, looking at witnesses’ accounts, views by academics, politicians as well as civil society and putting forward well-argued conclusions. But their efforts will be in vain if Malaysian society does not learn the lessons of this episode: We have to redress the human rights issues that remain unresolved in this country and reform the institutions to ensure that “Kampung Medan” and “May 13” never happen again.