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Film on 1969 Malaysia riots courts controversy

Published on Aug 2, 2012 10:43 AM

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - A government-backed film touching on one of the most sensitive episodes in Malaysian history has sparked fears it could stir racial tensions in the multi-ethnic nation as an election showdown looms.

Before even being released Tanda Putera (Mark Of Princes) has become a target of critics who say a film depicting race riots four decades ago that still haunt the country was irresponsible - charges rejected by its director.

Several weeks of rioting broke out on May 13, 1969 between majority Malays and ethnic Chinese after an election setback for the Malay-dominated ruling alliance. Officially, 196 died, but many put the toll much higher.

The riots, popularly known by the date May 13, had a far-reaching impact.

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