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The Ethnic Riots of July 1964. MALAYSIA

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Introduction

Kimberly Wong Kristen 05A23 History Specimen Paper 2002 The Ethnic Riots of July 1964. The situation at that period of time had already been very poor, and there were many different contributing factors that led to the build up and explosion of the ethnic riots. Till this day, there are still many disputes to the cause of the ethnic riots in 1964 and thus it is not necessarily true that UMNO was responsible for the outbreak of ethnic riots in 1964. However, this is an issue that may never be completely settled as it is extremely controversial. The Federal Government of Malaysia, dominated UMNO feared that as long as Singapore remained in the Federation, the policy of positive racial discrimination to the Malays would be undermined and therefore not in the interest of their pro-Malay agenda. Furthermore, we know that UMNO was using the Utasan Melayu to create tension and stir up trouble against the Singapore government. Thus, there is also evidence to challenge the statement that UMNO was not responsible for the ethnic riots. ...read more.

Middle

However, as this speech was given in 1964-the year of the riots itself, by the leader of the Malays- Tunku Abdul Rahman it could have been to instigate others to agree with his views and to seek support in his stand that UMNO was not responsible for the riots. However, from another point of view, UMNO may actually have a part to play in being responsible for the outbreak of ethnic riots. In Source B, Lee Kuan Yew claims that "all the indications show that there had been organization and planning behind the outbreak to turn it into an ugly communal clash." He is implying that it is indeed UMNO who had been responsible for the outbreak of ethnic riots by claiming that the ethnic riots were organized and planned, as he could not be declaring that it was his own party, the Singapore government was the party that had planned and organized this "ugly" outbreak. This source was extracted from Lee Kuan Yew's memoirs, which was published in 1998- years after the ethnic riots, and was written as a reflection of the circumstances then. ...read more.

Conclusion

of whether or not UMNO was indeed responsible because, as stated by Source A, the matter is still controversial- there are many versions of the incident, and no evidence to prove that any one of them are true, or more true than another. There is no conclusive evidence either way. Furthermore, the issue of blame is bound to involve subjective perceptions and interpretations of what were complex and complicated events which situations cannot be proven, then and now. Even if the riots were planned, an UMNO supporter could still argue that the root cause of the riots was not the planning but essentially the feelings of resentments amongst the Malay community in Singapore and the conflicts between the two parties that already existed which was the first and most prevailing trigger of the ethnic riots. Thus, I would say that a satisfactory explanation of whom or what was responsible would then have to allow for all these different perceptions of the evidence. Thus I feel that it is impossible to factually claim that UMNO was or was not responsible for the ethnic riots as everyone would have their different perspectives and opinions on the situation. ...read more.

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