Today, is the 40th anniversary of the racial riots that took place in Kuala Lumpur. This morning when I woke up, I told myself how lucky I was to be alive after all these years, and thank God for that too. The memories of the evening of May 13 1969 still remains so vividly in my mind.
That evening, just after office hours at 5.00 pm, I took a bus from Lin Ho in Jalan Silang to attend my journalism class in old PJ town at the Commercial and Technical Institute.
At about 7.30 pm, the principal of the school rushed into our class to tell us that he was dismissing us and that we were to return home immediately. We didn't know why as he quickly had to rush off to inform the other classes. My classmates and I then went to the old PJ town bus depot to wait for a bus to take us to town. Two Sri Jaya buses arrive one after the other and before we could board the buses, the drivers switched off the lights in the buses, and then both drivers and conductors ran away into the dark. In the distance, we could see the skyline orange red in colour and the first thought that came to my mind was that the communist party must have started another riot after the recent funeral held for their comrade who was killed by the police.
After waiting for another 15 minutes, I suggested to my course mates that it would be best that we walk to KL using the Old Klang Road. As we were approaching the Puchong police station, there were shouts from both sides of the road and I could see Chinese youths with choppers, steel pipes and knives running towards us. I shouted to them in Chinese that we were Chinese (although there were 1 sikh and 1 Malay amongst us), but they kept on coming. In the nick of time, a police Land Rover approached us and one of the policemen told us to quickly board the vehicle. There were two policemen with rifles at the back and in order to deter the crowd, they cocked their rifles and took aim. Only then did the group dispersed back into the Chinese village.
As we were approaching the police station, suddenly we heard bottles thrown onto the road infront of us. I guess those guys wanted to puncture the tyres so as to get to us. The driver skilfully manouver the vehicle until we reached the police station. We were told to stay put in the compound of the police station and not to wander around. At about 10.15 pm, a Land Rover pulled up at the station and I heard the policeman at the back of the vehicle shouting to his colleagues for medical assistance. I went over to the vehicle and there at the back was a Chinese lady in yellow cardigen cradling the head of her husband who has just been shot in the chest by a military personnel. I guess he was not aware that a curfew was on. He left his house on a bicycle to report for night duty at a nearby factory. Just as he was cycling a few yards away from the home, a shot rang out.
It was uncomfortable for all of us especially since the police station was crowded with other members of the public who were caught stranded. However, the police were friendly and tried to make us as comfortable as possible. Seeing a car parked by the roadside infront of the police station, I sought permission from one of the officers to allow me to sleep in the car.
Around 6.30 am, I was awakened by sounds of heavy vehicles. I looked out from the car window and I saw 2 army trucks pulled beside the road and a group of Malay youths disembarked, proceeded to the police station to have breakfast. One of the youths with a scarf over his head and holding a sharpened steel pipe came up to the car where I was sleeping and peeped in. For a moment I thought I was history. He looked at me for quite a while with a look like he was on drugs. He then turned to join his friends for breakfast.
At about 10.30 am, one of the police officers announced that one of their vehicles were going to Pudu Police Station and if anyone staying in that area, these person/s could be given transportation and escort. I was one of those who decided to make use of this opportunity to go home as I was staying in Jalan Peel.
Along the way, I saw two soldiers kicking an old Chinese man at a road side at 3rd mile Jalan Klang, infront of the shop that sells Roman columns.
When I arrived at the Pudu Police Station, the scene was chaotic and it was twice as crowded as the one in Puchong. I waited for quite a while hoping that I could see a neighbour of mind who has a car to take me back home. At 12.15 pm, there was a stranger who told me he was staying in Jalan Cochrane. He could leave me there but I had to run all the way home, crossing three roads and three lanes.
By the time I arrived home, it was almost 1.10 pm, much to the relief of my parents.