A Wedding and a Funeral: The Klang Lama Ethnic Clash Indian-Malaysian Online Indian Malaysian Online
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“The clashes were not planned. There were no racial clashes, but when people start spreading rumours that Indians are attacking Malays, then people come out and it happens,” - PM Mahathir

"Malays in the area have long been patient although the Indians have attacked us again and again." - Taman Muda State Assemblywoman, Norkhaila Jamaludin

Memorandum to the Prime Minister

" poor infrastructure and a host of socio-economic ills bred frustration.The area has all the chemistry for trouble. It lacks infrastructure and consists of poor uneducated people who have been isolated and kept out of the political and economic mainstream all this while. People like them tend to rebel when they are pushed to the wall. They are taking the opportunity to show their dissatisfaction, to highlight their plight."
- Mohammad Agus Yusoff, political science lecturer at the National University


When Monday, 4th. to 12th. March 2001
Where: Kampong Medan, Klang Lama (20 minutes drive from Kuala Kumpur
Dead: Six
Arrested: > 180
Injured: > 40
Population: 100,000 (20 % Indians)
How it Started: (popular version) by: Wong Chun Waiit
An Indian security guard on the way back from work at 3am on March 4 found a tent erected in the middle of the narrow road in Kampung Medan, off Jalan Klang Lama, for a wedding. For reasons known to him, he became agitated and started kicking the tables and chairs.

His action angered the Malay family that was preparing for the wedding, and they rushed out to beat him up. But armed with a parang, he returned with five others to retaliate. A fight broke out. He ran towards an Indian house, a few hundred metres away, presumably for refuge where a wake was being held, contrary to earlier reports that the fight started because the funeral procession was blocked by the tent. The group of Malays, who thought he was a member of the household, then set fire to a car and two motorcycles. But the spark came four days later when fights broke out after Indian children playing with catapults broke a van windscreen.

The angry van owner, an Indian, sought compensation from the children's parents. He was joined by his driver, a Malay, but some villagers who saw the commotion thought that a Malay was threatening the Indians. By then, the rumours were flying of an Indian-Malay fight. As with all rumours, more versions followed, resulting in mounting tension among the Malays and Indians in the area.


Death toll rises in KL clashes -- AFP/AP Five people were killed, 37 injured and 153 arrested in four days of clashes between residents in a racially-mixed district near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian police said on Sunday, although local residents claimed the death and injury toll were higher.

Three dead in Malay-Indian clashes outside KL10 March 07:05PM -- Singapore Time ......'People are quick to jump to conclusion that it was a fight with racial connotations,' Mr Abdullah said. 'It could have been an altercation between individuals who happen to be of different races and religions.' Veteran opposition leader Lim Kit Siang urged the Deputy Premier to go to the area himself to defuse the tensions and put together economic aid to redress the
'poverty and social backwardness in the area'.

From The South China Morning Post, HK 12th March 2001

Racial violence shatters lengthy period of peace IAN STEWART in Kuala Lumpur ....But despite attempts to forge a Malaysian identity, surveys show that Malays, Chinese and Indians prefer their own company. Religion as well as race can be a divisive issue. In March 1998, Malay Muslims and Indian Hindus in Kampung Rawa, Penang, engaged in street fights following a dispute over the construction of a temple. Police had to use tear-gas to break up the antagonists.

From The Times, UK
12th March 2001

Five killed in Malaysia riots BY JAMES PRINGLE ......
The Government has played down the ethnic element in the fighting. Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Prime Minister, advised residents not to be unduly alarmed. “The clashes were not planned. There were no racial clashes, but when people start spreading rumours that Indians are attacking Malays, then people come out and it happens,” the Prime Minister was quoted as saying.

From The International Herald Tribune
12th March 2001

Malaysia Is Stricken by Ethnic Bloodshed Worst Strife in 30 Years by Thomas Fuller of International Herald Tribune Officials Minimize ....The police, she said, stood by and watched as Mr. Muniratnem was beaten by four young men armed with sticks and motorcycle helmets. Miss Parameswary said she witnessed the beating after being roused from her home at 3 a.m. on Saturday by the screaming of Mr. Muniratnem. She left her house carrying a stick that she had fashioned into a weapon by driving a nail into one end.

Media Statement by DAP National Chairman Lim Kit Siang

Dr M rapped over Kg Medan clashes
K Kabilan and Zakiah Koya..............
Barisan Alternatif (BA) leaders today called on prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad not to incite and exacerbate racial tensions at Kampung Medan, Petaling Selatan and surrounding areas by making statements of a communal nature. The racial clashes at the Petaling Selatan squatter areas and its vicinity since last Thursday have resulted in the death of at least six persons and the arrest of 154.

Police urged to tell all on Kg Medan clashes
Susan Loone
.......... Police should be transparent and release all information on the Kampung Medan clashes to defuse tension and dismiss rumours regarding the situation, an opposition leader said today. Keadilan vice-president Tian Chua said that until today, the public have no clear idea on the actual sequence of the incidents and reason for the outbreak of violence.

Dangerous stakes of racial games
P Ramasamy
.......these racial clashes between Malays and Indians have taken place in areas that are socially and economically depressed. The combatants and victims are members of the working class who have real no enmity with one another. But then the nature of racial politics, symbolism of Malay dominance, the racial discrimination of Indians, class exploitation of Malays and Indians together have combined in the most nefarious ways to bring out ethnic hatred among these ethnic groups.

Bloody early warning signal
Malaysiakini MGG Pillai
.......Where racial and political harmony is presumed with pious intonations to pat itself on the back for it, combined with threats when official equanimity is challenged, it takes but little to throw it out of gear. When disparate communities and races find their political, social and cultural bonds fraying with neglect and political chicanery, something must

Malaysiakini Wednesday March 14 Kg Medan: Lancing the boil with a machete CHIAROSCURO

MGG Pillai .....Squalid sprawl So, is Abdullah saying what is or what should be? How does he explain why some 600 uniformed and armed policemen surround the area? Why has he not taken action against the state assemblywoman who said it was Indians who attacked the Malays, when he insists what happened is not a communal clash? Why is the police issuing a racial breakdown of those arrested, wounded, killed? Why is the media encouraged to report them? As the secretary of the National Operations Council, formed after the May 13,1969 riots, Abdullah should have known the power of getting even amongst the communities under siege.

Riot Cops Quell Malaysian Violence by SEAN YOONG Associated Press Writer.........Police seized 96 weapons, including eight homemade bombs, parangs, samurai swords, catapults, chains, steel pipes, batons and axes, Jamil was quoted as saying by the national news agency, Bernama.About 700 police were deployed to the area, which comprises five villages that are home to about 2,000 families, mostly poor laborers or squatters. Two police helicopters patrolled the skies overhead.

Sunday, 11 March, 2001, 07:23 GMT http://news.bbc.co.uk

Police clampdown on Malaysia violence By South East Asia correspondent Simon Ingram....when people start spreading rumours that Indians are attacking Malays, then people come out and clashes happen, Doctor Mahathir said.Ever since bloody riots between Malays and ethnic Chinese in 1969, the government has regarded its record of maintaining racial harmony as one of its proudest achievements.These incidents are a reminder that while Malaysia's problems are nowhere near as severe as those of neighbouring Indonesia, ethnic tensions still lurk beneath the surface.

Govt fears unsubstantiated rumours spreading in the capital will add fuel to three days of Indian-Malay fighting, which has resulted in five deaths.


Unanswered questions on clashes: BA leaders
K Kabilan and Leong Kar Yen

NGOs launch team to counter rumours
Leong Kar Yen

Time to put things right for Kg Medan residents News analysis by WONG CHUN WAI IT Star Tuesday, March 13, 2001........Started with an Indian security guard on the way back from work at 3am on March 4. He found a tent erected in the middle of the narrow road in Kampung Medan, off Jalan Klang Lama, for a wedding. For reasons known to him, he became agitated and started kicking the tables and chairs.

Taman Medan: Angkara khabar angin? BUMI DIPIJAK Lee Ban Chen ....Dua fakta harus ditekankan. Pertama, samseng merupakan masalah sosial yang berkait rapat dengan sistem sosio-ekonomi negara kita, ia bukan kesalahan mana-mana komuniti atau kaum. Kedua, pergaduhan kumpulan samseng boleh dikatakan berlaku setiap hari di beberapa tempat lain di negara kita, ia tidak menimbulkan permusuhan dan ketegangan kaum seperti yang berlaku di sekitar Jalan Kelang Lama baru-baru ini. Selain menyalahkan khabar angin dan kumpulan samseng, saya fikir satu masalah yang lebih penting ialah: Bagaimanakah latar belakang atau suasana kaum yang agak buruk sekarang telah memainkan peranannya?

MALAYSIA Growth of ethnic gangs aggravates tensions IAN STEWART in Kuala Lumpur........Chinese allegedly taking part in a triad initiation ceremony near Malacca. The two developments highlight the growth of ethnic-based gangs in Malaysia, which are aggravating tensions in mixed-race squatter areas, where people eke out a living in squalid surroundings. Poverty, frustration over living conditions and the prejudices of people of different races and religions contributed to the initial skirmishes in the cluster of deprived colonies south of the Federal Highway carrying commuters between the city centre and the fancy condominiums of Petaling Jaya.

Troubled Malaysian district has "all the chemistry" for mayhem.....KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 (AFP) - The run-down Malaysian district where bloody ethnic clashes broke out has "all the chemistry" for trouble including poverty, poor housing and gangsterism, analysts said Wednesday."The anger in Kampung Medan is a classic case of the urban poor working for crumbs," the Star newspaper said in an analysis.

FEER MALAYSIA Pressure Point Poor squatter districts erupt in violence, prompting Malaysians to fear for their racial harmony By S. Jayasankaran/KUALA LUMPUR
Issue cover-dated March 22, 2001.......
MALAYSIAN MINISTER OF WORKS S. Samy Vellu burst into tears at the mortuary of University Hospital on March 10. He was trying to persuade a hysterical woman, whose husband had been killed in a racial attack, not to have the funeral at her home in a Kuala Lumpur squatter district--epicentre of ethnic clashes that killed six people and injured over 40.

From Asia Times
15th March 2001
Racial clashes show rise of new Malaysian underclass By Anil Netto........In socio-economic terms, "the area is one of the worst areas around Kuala Lumpur", says professor Ishak Shari, head of the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies. "I suppose the feeling of frustration [at their plight] is there. The feeling of dissatisfaction must have been brewing all along," he explains.

STRATFOR.COM's Global Intelligence Update
Mar 14, 2001 Ethnic tensions weakening Mahathir's grip on power .....
With Malaysia's economy trapped in the regional slump, Mahathir's troubles will only worsen. Throughout Southeast Asia - from Indonesia to Vietnam, Laos to Myanmar - ethnic and religious tensions are erupting into violence. Without a surge in economic growth, MalaysiaÕs ethnic tensions are likely to boil over, leading to other clashes and increasingly weakening Mahathir's hold on power.

From The South China Morning Post, HK
Riots raise old fears for Chinese Memory of 1969 racial violence still vivid for community worried it may be target again IAN STEWART in Kuala Lumpur15th March 2001
Telephone calls frequently begin with, "Have you heard . . .?" or "A friend told me . . .". A problem for the authorities is the longstanding lack of credibility of the establishment media, which is perceived to report only what the Government wants it to report.

Mahathir Says Clashes Exploited by Opposition
.......KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday accused his political opponents of trying to use last week's violent clashes between Malays and Indians to whip up anti-government sentiment.He also said, according to Bernama news agency, some unknown groups were spreading rumours that hundreds of the country's majority Malays had been killed, and similar stories could be spread among Indians too, in a plot to spark more race riots.

Heed needs of urban poor, says group Star 18/03/01

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Court Rejects Author's Bid To Quash Ban On Kg Medan Book

Feb 12 (Bernama) -- The High Court on Friday rejected an author's application to quash the government's decision to ban his book on the Kampung Medan riots, almost nine years ago. (....more)

Web IndianMalaysian

‘March 8

Many may have long forgotten this ugly incident but some are not. Dr. Nagarajan did his Phd. thesis on this and, now, a book titled “March 8”  is written in Tamil by K. Arumugam, an active social worker. The book was launched on 8 July 2006

March 8

march 8


Everyone is asking me what to do. I can't do anything at the moment except to cry."
Samy Vellu at the University Malaya Medical Centre

"worst ethnic clashes in the last 32 years." - Lim Kit Siang, Opposion Leader

''People (authorities, politicians and the press) come here only when something happens,'' - Premeela, Student




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