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They say those who forget history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. In light of the recent sabre-rattling by those in Umno and the warning by the Armed Forces Chief,
Malaysia Today feels compelled to republish an old article by Raja Petra Kamarudin that was published in Harakah on 24 September 1999.


Raja Petra Kamarudin
This is Part One of an article I wrote almost nine years ago, which was published in Harakah, the official media organ of the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS). History is not
something that should remain buried. History is something that should be a lesson to all or us so that we do not repeat the mistakes made by those before us.

In 1968, Umno fanned racial sentiments in a bid to 'unite' the Malays under its banner. Umno realised that the Malays were abandoning it in droves and it needed an issue to
reunite the Malays. Further to that, the Prime Minister was being blamed for what Umno perceived as a loss of Malay support and the Young Turks in Umno wanted to also use this
issue to pressure the Prime Minister into resigning.

Twenty years later, in 1988, Umno again went into turmoil with the emergence of Team A and Team B, which eventually split into Umno Baru and Semangat 46. Again, just like
twenty years before that, the Malays had become disillusioned with the Umno leadership and there was a danger that Umno would suffer the same fate it did in 1969 if the general
election was called.

The Umno leadership very cleverly got the Umno Youth and MCA Youth leaders to raise racial issues and bring the country to the brink of another ‘May 13’. This was when that
infamous gathering at the TPCA padang in Kampong Baru was held and when Najib Tun Razak, the Umno Youth Leader, raised the keris and threatened to bathe it in Chinese

Of course, this second ‘May 13’ never happened. What did happen instead was that Operasi Lalang was launched and more than 100 opposition leaders and activists were
detained under the Internal Security Act. Najib and the MCA Youth Leader, Lee Kim Sai, however, were spared detention, although they were the two main players in the whole

The ploy did not quite succeed though. In the 1990 general election, half the Malays swung to the opposition and Umno lost most of the Malay heartland to Semangat 46 and PAS.

Twenty years on and history is, again, being repeated. It appears like every twenty years Umno takes the country to the brink of a race riot in its effort to 'unite' the Malays and to
ensure that it does not lose Malay support. And the 8 March 2008 general election, as well as the recent Permatang Pauh by-election, is proof that Umno has lost Malay support.

“The current situation is a repeat of 1969,” said Umno in its brainstorming session held at the Umno headquarters to conduct a post-mortem of the election results. “Therefore, a
1969 ‘solution’ will also be required.”

This is very dangerous talk indeed. And Umno has been doing nothing but talking dangerously since March 2008, as evident in the recent episode in Penang. Maybe the culprit has
since been punished. Yesterday, Umno’s Supreme Council decided to suspend Ahmad Ismail for a period of three years. But the damage has already been done and the
suspension can’t turn back the clock. Racial sentiments have already been fanned and Malaysia, again, is being pushed to the brink of a race riot.

Malays, Chinese and Indians need to know how May 13 started. They must be made aware of what May 13 was really all about. They must be made to realise that the current
sabre-rattling is nothing but the same ploy that Umno used back in 1968 and 1988 whenever it felt that it was losing Malay support. May 13 was not about race although it is being
touted as so. May 13 was about ‘reuniting’ the Malays and about ousting the Prime Minister from office.

To forget history would be to repeat its mistakes. Let us not be taken in by Umno’s shadow-play (wayang kulit). They know they are rapidly losing power and they want to retain
power through foul means by raising the spectre of May 13. Malaysians need to be matured and clever enough to reject this ploy. Umno can try, but whether it can succeed will all
depend on whether we get suckered into this very dangerous race game.

Let me take you down memory lane and recap what I wrote nine years ago so that we may learn from this dark history and not repeat what went wrong. As follows is what I wrote in
Harakah on 24 September 1999.


The following statement is a factual account of the above-mentioned event given to me by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman (first Prime Minister of Malaysia) during an interview at his
residence in Penang in 1972. I requested to discuss the above incident and was surprised when the appointment was given within three days.

His Secretary, a Chinese gentleman, allotted me one hour and advised me not to go into too much detail as this would tire the Tunku unnecessarily. In fact, the interview lasted
three and a half hours. Because of the very surprising details provided to me, I think it would be best to report in a first-hand manner based on my notes written immediately after
the interview.

“It was clear to me as well as the police that in the highly charged political atmosphere after the police were forced to kill a Chinese political party worker on May 4th, 1969,
something was bound to happen to threaten law and order because of the resentment towards the Government by the KL Chinese on the eve of the general election. This was
confirmed at this man’s funeral on the 9th May when the government faced the most hostile crowd it had ever seen.

Therefore, when the opposition parties applied for a police permit for a procession to celebrate their success in the results of the general election, I was adamant against it because
the police were convinced that this would lead to trouble. I informed Tun Razak about this and he seemed to agree.

Now, without my knowledge and actually “behind my back”, there were certain political leaders in high positions who were working to force me to step down as a PM. I don’t want to
go into details but if they had come to me and said so I would gladly have retired gracefully.

Unfortunately, they were apparently scheming and trying to decide on the best way to force me to resign. The occasion came when the question of the police permit was to be

Tun Razak and Harun Idris, the MB of the state of Selangor, now felt that permission should be given, knowing fully well that there was a likelihood of trouble. I suppose they felt
that when this happened they could then demand my resignation.

To this day I find it very hard to believe that Razak, whom I had known for so many years, would agree to work against me in this way. Actually he was in my house, as I was
preparing to return to Kedah, and I overhead him speaking to Harun over the phone saying that he would be willing to approve the permit when I left. I really could not believe what I
was hearing and preferred to think it was about some other permit. In any case, as the Deputy Prime Minister, in my absence from KL, he would be the Acting PM and would
override my objection.
Accordingly, when I was in my home in Kedah, I heard over the radio that the permit had been approved.

It seems as though the expected trouble was anticipated and planned for by Harun and his UMNO Youth. After the humiliating insults hurled by the non-Malays, especially the
Chinese, and after the seeming loss of Malay political power to them, they were clearly ready for some retaliatory action.

After meeting in large numbers at Harun’s official residence in Jalan Raja Muda near Kampong Bahru, and hearing inflammatory speeches by Harun and other leaders, they 29/09/2008

The rest is history. The first hapless victims were two of them in a van opposite Harun’s house who were innocently watching the large gathering.” This was a conspiracy at the highest level and nothing short of a power struggle. We must never allow our country to be turned into a racial battlefield again. http://mt. To achieve their ends. with the ‘Young Turks’ then forming the pressure group. Today.a fire raging out of control with no fire extinguisher in sight. good governance and justice. I am sorry but I must end this discussion now because it really pains me as the Father of Merdeka to have to relive those terrible moments. Let politics be issues concerning policies. they are doing it again. Let us not allow anyone to bring race and religion into our politics lest we suffer the fate of many countries around us where mass murders of entire families are made in the name of ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’ 29/09/2008 . like what happened in 1969 -. I have often wondered why God made me live long enough to have witnessed my beloved Malays and Chinese citizens killing each other. civil rights. it may make the Malays rise against the non-Malays. It may backfire and. This is dangerous politics. instead.The REAL story of May 13 (part 1) Page 2 of 2 prepared themselves by tying ribbon strips on their foreheads and set out to kill . Little did they know that they would be killed on the spot. they very cleverly used race to make the Malays rise and push the Tengku aside.Access Malaysia Today at http://mt.

Your Ministers and the Cabinet are vested with this decision-making authority. It provides a shortcut to everything. have succumbed to this disease and. no amount of dereliction of duty could affect the position of a Minister. Contrary to what the (local) history books try to tell us. and this ego is still 29/09/2008 . then let me take you down memory lane. www.TheFitnessBookReview. they disregard them at every turn. these characteristics play an extremely important role. Do any of you know the REAL story behind May 13 -. In the main. It makes possible the attainment of positions of immense power. which resulted in the infamous May 13 racial riots. It was now twelve years after Merdeka and the "young Turks" in UMNO were getting restless and wanted a change of leadership. Malaysia Today feels compelled to republish an old article by Raja Petra Kamarudin that was published in Harakah on 24 September 1999. but understand money instinctively. UMNO.Access Malaysia Today at http://mt. The various races in Malaysia are differentiated not merely by ethnic origin. giving birth to the first Malay political party. UMNO politicians and Pusat Islam officials have likened the non-Muslims to “unclean” people because of their pork-eating and liquor-drinking. Eventually. It would seem that the efforts of the poor Malays have gone to enrich a select few of their own people. and who started it? If not. He drove a MG sports car and spent his years enjoying the lifestyle of the rich and famous. even if the Minister performs well. this strength is used to change the constitution. 18 September 2008 11:35 Why is Your Stomach Fat? Decorative Glass Experts I was embarrassed by my fat stomach for UVi Glass. and is generally unable to rule. In light of the recent sabre-rattling by those in Umno and the warning by the Armed Forces Chief. but which have absolutely no effect on the course of the Government.for they are still only a very few . The poor Malays themselves have not gained one iota.m2day. India. At first. yet still have some control over their old colony. for example are not merely hook-nosed. the British doors were thrown open to the Malays and the first batch of Malays was brought over to England to receive an English education. UMNO is being held together. They were also angry that Tengku Abdul Rahman surrounded himself with Chinese businessman. Tengku Rahman was definitely given special treatment by the British to the extent he was the only student in Cambridge history ever allowed to own a car on campus (everyone else rode bicycles). and many countries around this region had already gained independence from their colonial masters. in 1957. we need to go back to the pre-Merdeka days to see how independence was achieved and how the first leaders of independent Malaya were groomed to take over running the country. http://mt. back in 1969. Your Government of mediocre people is bereft of ideas.maybe even more so now seeing that we have entered the borderless cyber age and are about to enter a new millennium. These characteristics are important. Ceramic Tiles for years until I found this trick. These were mostly the sons of the elite and royalty -. Chinese and Indians must protest strongly and reject this outdated racial politics that is extremely dangerous and can disrupt the peace and stability of this multi-racial.have waxed riches not because of themselves. These young Turks such as Hussein Onn and Dr Mahathir Mohamad had no sentimental attachments to the British. It is obvious that only the most capable and experienced should be made Ministers and be in the Cabinet. The British thought that the best way to grant independence to Malaya. Eventually these young graduates of an English education were brought back to Malaya and given government posts as part of their training to one day take over the reins of power. but also by many other characteristics. rugby. It still is now -. the unseemly existence of Malay tycoons is essential. failure to remain on good terms with the Prime Minister means removal from the Ministry. Mahathir made this point very clear in his letter to the Tengku which goes as follows: "You have become so powerful. Off and on. In fact. believing that they no longer need to heed the opinions of their supporters. but that definitely was not how it started out. All the while. Laws have been hurriedly passed without prior consultation with the representatives who have had to "sell" these laws to the people. It was Merdeka without losing the English influence. In 1946. Indonesia. These devices are so transparent and so lacking in subtlety that they achieve just the opposite effect.m2day. the local Malays took over running the government. Tax innovations have been made and discarded with complete disregard for the disrupting effect on the public. not to mention a day at the dog races. that UMNO has become subservient to you. all your interior needs is started. As an example Tengku became a District Officer in Kedah. But it was merely a changing of the skin colour. A feeling of power normally grips those who wield patronage. these English educated Malays enjoyed all the trappings of England including cricket. tea-at-four. they would have to grant independence to Malaya. the senior partners of the Alliance Government. On the other hand. as mentioned earlier. The manner. From their point of view of racial ego. but because of the policy of a Government supported by a huge majority of poor Malays. It may have eventually ended that way. May 13 was NOT about Malay and Chinese rivalry. Tun Razak. this might seem grossly unfair. Race and religion should no longer be used to separate Malaysians in the divide-and-rule policy of the Barisan Nasional government. But independent Malaysia has chosen to treat membership of the Cabinet as a reward for loyalty to party chiefs and acceptability to the Prime Minister.UviGlass. so they should not have been allowed into the mosque. These Malays are in a position to acquire riches. as they were educated in India and Singapore respectively. NO HOLDS BARRED Raja Petra Kamarudin UMNO is at it again! They are going round the country saying that keADILan and PAS have allowed the National Mosque to be used by non-Muslims to attack Muslims. not because the members share your ideas on They say those who forget history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. UMNO is saying one thing to the Malays. a post normally reserved for the "white man". It was a matter of time before the British would have to give in to the demands of the Malays.The REAL story of May 13 (part 2) Page 1 of 2 THE REAL STORY OF MAY 13 (PART 2) Posted by Super Admin Thursday. however. but when races compete in a given field. Now they are doing it again. why it was started.Tengku Abdul Rahman. With the existence of the few rich Malays. and many more future leaders of Malaya. but through a system of patronage and disguised coercion based on Government rather than party authority. Parliamentary sittings are regarded as a pleasant formality which afford members an opportunity to be heard and quoted. Merdeka was won and. The leaders of UMNO. your Government is busy on devices to perpetuate itself. To understand May 13. The British knew that. Glass Coatings. the Philippines. 30 years ago. and so on. The management style remained the same. the Malays of this era tended to be more English than even the Englishmen. Maybe these narrow-minded people have not noticed the daily busloads of foreign tourists visiting the National Mosque as part of their itinerary? Have these foreign (non -Muslim) tourists been screened whether they eat pork or drink liquor before being allowed into the mosque? I bet not! UMNO adopted this very dangerous strategy once. is unable to understand the limits of their authority. would be to groom the leaders who would take over and educate them the British way so that they would soon become more English than the Englishman. Needless to say. Once appointed. The Malays. How these characteristics develop is another matter. These few Malays . multi-religious country of ours. This is the height of hypocrisy. at least the poor Malays can say that their fate is not entirely to serve the rich non-Malays. The Jews. one day. May 13 was basically a Malay political struggle with racialism used as a camouflage. Politics is found to be the panacea. In the mid 1940s. Merdeka has brought power and wealth to the new Malay . both by virtue of your office and by popular acclaim. The sittings are a concession to a superfluous democratic practice. a feeling that they can mould and shape people and opinions any way they please. the frequency. and the opposite to the non-Malays. It was a very narrow-minded and short-sighted strategy then. May I remind you. and the trivial reasons for altering the constitution have reduced this supreme law of the nation to a useless scrap of paper. the independence movement in Malaya had also started.

Besides.m2day. then there is little hope for the masses. will therefore fail. the average Malay treats him with fear and respect. Even feudalism can be beneficial if it facilitates changes. The political Rajas of today can. In any case." http://mt. It is essential therefore that the monarchy remains. The maintenance of the system is no doubt costly. Time and again this inability or unwillingness to measure the odds against them has led to defeat and disaster for the Malays. a Malaysia without rulers would mean the complete eclipse of the .Access Malaysia Today at http://mt. if the leaders fail. and the last vestige of traditional Malaysia would disappear. Jewish stinginess and financial wizardry gained them the commercial control of Europe and provoked an anti-Semitism. Such a change would spread rapidly. It will not win the support of the majority of orthodox Malays. In a feudal society. which waxed and waned throughout Europe through the ages. which starts off by preaching the destruction of the established monarchical order. To calculate and assess one's chances first is to exhibit cowardice. the monarch has done no real harm to the Malays or to anyone else. The first thing that comes to mind is that the vast majority of Malays are feudalistic and wish to remain so. institute change if they themselves are willing to change. but being separated from 29/09/2008 . A revolution. Remove them. It is the rulers who have in the past furnished and continued to present the Malay character of Malaysia. then the leaders can lead the way with the certainty that they will be followed by the masses. The ordinary man knows that it is not worthwhile to incur his displeasure and that it is safer to let him have his own way. the ruler cannot constitute a tyranny. To take on an adversary when it seems to be beyond one's capacity is courageous.m2day. therefore. If the indications are that there should be a change in the value system and ethical code. The courageous or brave Malay is usually foolhardy.The REAL story of May 13 (part 2) Page 2 of 2 The possession of these characteristics means little until different races come into contact with each other. and because he is likely to do things without thinking of the consequences. The ordinary man therefore represents the other extreme when principle is easily set aside for the sake of safety.

He said that he agreed with the view of MCA leaders that they could not actually represent the people they claimed to represent. The Tunku was now powerless. Book Now! www. The Malays were now really angry and decided to hold a victory parade of their own. Syed Nasir stressed that on the whole. racial riots exploded. In light of the recent sabre-rattling by those in Umno and the warning by the Armed Forces Chief. 12 July 1969. Mahathir also said that MIC's position in the Cabinet should also be reconsidered. According to him. It also lost a couple of states to the opposition plus its two-thirds majority in others. and I was only 19 then. Tun Razak.authenticsuccess.PYOTravel. "I do not agree with the way some Chinese chambers of commerce have stated their confidence and support of Tun Tan Siew Sin and their asking him to reconsider MCA's decision to withdraw from the Cabinet. Dr. The May 1969 General Elections were held soon after and the Alliance Party won only 40% of the votes resulting in it losing its two-thirds majority in Parliament. and there is little point in pretending that the policies of the Alliance party are the best acceptable to them. Malaysia Today feels compelled to republish an old article by Raja Petra Kamarudin that was published in Harakah on 24 September 1999. it is no longer necessary for MCA to remain in the Cabinet. Dr Mahathir was expelled from Umno as the Utusan Malaysia newspaper report of 6 June 1969 reveals: *************************************************** KUALA LUMPUR 5 June .com They say those who forget history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. the entire cabinet withdrew to Frazers Hill while the Malays prepared for trouble. That same evening. People in the top echelon of the government and commerce were tipped off to get out of town or go home early and. Tan Sri Syed Jaafar emphasised his disapproval of efforts made to ask MCA to re-enter the Cabinet. Since this will take quite some time. they have to wait for the next general election. some Chinese demonstrated in front of the United States Information Service (USIS) office and one demonstrator was shot dead by a panicking Malay policeman -. and MIC. Senu Abdul Rahman. the city was quite deserted of the elite except for the unknowing rakyat. He said: "It is not only the duty of MCA to discuss this matter as if it is its own peculiar problem. Mahathir. The Chinese wanted their death sentence commuted. had not decided yet if MCA and MIC should be included in the Cabinet or if the Alliance should remain as it was then. the riot police had to be called in the break up the demonstration with teargas. however. The Malays wanted the 11 Chinese punished. by 3. thereby angering the Malays. In a Press Statement released by UMNO's Secretary General. In a meeting with Utusan Malaysia.Some leading members of UMNO's Supreme Council have voiced their support for the decision by MCA leadership to exclude themselves from the Cabinet. but whether the Chinese supported the present policies of the Alliance. Parliament was dissolved. "This is the matter that should be considered by these people who are making a big fuss about giving their support to Tun Tan Siew Sin today. And demonstrations were held in the Chinese dominated areas around Kuala Lumpur to pressure the government to pardon the 11. In another incident." he emphasised. Dato Harun." However. 22 September 2008 08:30 Ethos Connect Consulting Malaysia Airlines Professional management consultancy and Malaysia Airlines Low Hotel Rates Rooms up corporate training services till 24 hrs. Tan Sri Jaafar Albar also stated that the support given to Tun Tan Siew Sin by the Chinese Chambers of Commerce was not sufficient because support had to come from the majority of the Chinese population. the problem now was not the question of confidence towards Tun Tan Siew Sin as the MCA leader. the support given to Tun Tan Siew Sin by the Chinese chambers of commerce and other Chinese organisations could not be taken as support from the Chinese community as a whole to MCA because those organisations did not represent the desires of the Chinese community as a whole. They needed something to trigger off some form of resentment against the government. MCA and MIC had to be reviewed to take in the changes which had taken place after the general elections. the relationship between 29/09/2008 . The government had no choice but to back down." he added. Among them are Tan Sri Syed Jaafar Albar. On May 13. He also called for MCA's expulsion from the Alliance to "punish" the Chinese. According to Mahathir. In one large demonstration outside Pudu Jail.The REAL story of May 13 (part 3) Page 1 of 2 THE REAL STORY OF MAY 13 (PART 3) Posted by Super Admin Monday. reported by the Utusan Melayu newspaper on 6 June 1969. as the backbone of the Alliance party. The Chinese wanted a funeral procession but the police would not grant them permission as they knew it would attract a huge crowd and the funeral would be turned into a demonstration instead. he did not want to give his final views before the party met to discuss the matter.MY.m2day.Access Malaysia Today at www. told the police to grant them permission and ordered the police off the streets." he said. Mahathir then increased his attacks on the Tunku using race as his platform." he said. thereby saving the Alliance government that no longer had a majority in Parliament. He stated that discussions about MCA's inclusion in the Cabinet should not be confined to the newspapers or to MCA alone because UMNO. and power was transferred to Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak under the National Operations Council (NOC). They needed the Malays to rise. http://mt. "If MCA wants to know whether they have the support of the Chinese. MCA. but it should be the responsibility of all the Alliance leaders from the UMNO.00pm. who supported Tan Sri Syed Jaafar's statement. was given the task of managing this "event". The opposition parties held "victory parades" which turned into a mud-slinging and name-calling session. This was subsequently turned into a Malay-Chinese issue. "The people have expressed their needs and desires. 11 Chinese prisoners were sentenced to death for killing a Malay prison warden in Pudu Jail. stressed that MCA leaders had to adhere to their earlier decision of not wanting to be included in the Cabinet. Mahathir bin Mohamad and Syed Nasir bin Ismail. NO HOLDS BARRED Raja Petra Kamarudin The move to push Tunku Abdul Rahman aside had started.interpreted as another Malay-Chinese thing. That was my first experience with .com. Instead.m2day. it said: "Mahathir Mohamad ceases to be a member of the UMNO Supreme Council with effect from today. The resulting "giant" parade built up tensions further. the then Chief Minister of Selangor. and what better platform to exploit than a racial platform? Prior to that.

Even the policemen said that you were using official cars and police escorts to contact your poker gang. I have to say what I have already said. I pray to God it will open your heart to accept the truth bitter though it may be.m2day." *************************************************** Mahathir replied to this in his letter to the Tengku dated 17th June 1969. The opposition parties were invited to join the government and the Alliance gave way to the Barisan Nasional giving the government back their two-thirds majority in Parliament. PAS left the BN to stay on as an opposition party. The climax was the commuting of the death sentence. "Your opinions were based on stories you heard from people who surround you. But I would be irresponsible if I do not explain what I have said earlier. In truth the Malays whether they are UMNO or PMIP supporters really hate you. That was why the Chinese and the Indians behaved outrageously toward the Malays on 12th May. so that you can understand my motive for making that press statement. Permit me to tell you what the position. called dirty names and shown obscene gestures and private parts. Even if I am jailed. which resulted in the deaths of many. Lately. especially in view of the present situation in the country. I know that the majority of them voted for the PMIP through mail ballots. but I have to convey to you the feelings of the Malays. They said you wanted to be known only as 'The Happy Prime Minister' even though others are suffering. I am fully aware of the powers you still hold and I remember too well the fate of AZIZ ISHAK. Army Officers and the Malays in the Police Force have lost faith and respect for you. that is that it is high time you resign as our Prime Minister and UMNO leader. Letters containing important matters should first be discussed by UMNO's Supreme Council. another disturbing factor came to light. which made the majority of the Malays angry.. You yourself told me that you have prevented a riot by commuting the death sentence of the 11 subversive Chinese. The military itself will be beyond control. Your 'give and take' policy gives the Chinese everything they ask for." *************************************************** Soon after. from Permanent Secretary downwards. especially those who had lost homes. the thoughts and the opinions of the people are really. If you had been spit in the face. The responsibility of the deaths of these people. many more. Once more I wish to repeat that the statement I made [on the continued exclusion of the MCA from the Cabinet] is to prevent the Malays from hating the Government more and to stop the Chinese from abusing the dignity of the Malays. because of your 'give and take' policy. of course. The action taken by Mahathir is seen to be in breach of the party's etiquette and is capable of damaging party solidarity and the government which the party supports. I regret writing this letter. http://mt. Later on. the Tengku stepped aside and Tun Razak took over as Prime .m2day. Muslim or 29/09/2008 .. children and relatives. and they hate you for giving too much face. The Chinese on the other hand regarded you and the Alliance government as cowards and weaklings who could be pushed around. President of UMNO Malaysia. and who tell you only what they think you like to hear or should hear. rests on the shoulders of the leader who holds views based on wrong assumptions. then you could understand how the Malays felt. In truth this very action sparked the riots of 13 May. A bigger riot will occur if this is allowed. The Malays in the Civil Service.. I wish to convey what the people really think.The REAL story of May 13 (part 3) Page 2 of 2 This decision was taken following the wide distribution to the public of Mahathir's letter to Tunku Abdul Rahman. The Malays whom you thought would never rebel went berserk. They said that although the country was in a state of emergency you were engrossed playing poker with your Chinese friends.Access Malaysia Today at http://mt.