Al-Mauna Arms heists - Set up BN-BA Committee

    Media Statement by DAP National Chairman Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, July 11, 2000:

    Grik arms heists and Al Mauna:Joint Barisan Nasional -Barisan Alternative Committee to work out a bi-partisan national counter-strategyto prevent their recurrence and to address the grave issues raised


    The Grik arms heists and the Al Mauna hostages and barbaric torture/murder of a army ranger and police detective have raised very grave national issues which call for sober,serious and responsibleresponses by Barisan Nasional and Barisan Alternative leaders, who should resist the temptation topoliticise them merely to score petty political points.

    National interest demand that the Barisan Nasional and the Barisan Alternative should co-operate to work out a bipartisan national counter-strategy to prevent the recurrence of the Grik arms heists and to stamp out deviationist religious groups which espouse violence and are prepared to maim and murderto achieve their purported ends.

    This can be done through the establishment of a Joint Barisan Nasional-Barisan Alternative Committee to work out a bipartisan national counter strategy to prevent the recurrence of the Grik arms heists and the Al-Mauna hostages and barbaric torture/murders and to effectively address the grave issues raised by them.

    It will be a national misfortune if the Grik arms heists and the Al Mauna hostages/murders are turned into a political "football", clouding or even sidelining the grave issues highlighed by them.

    It is most unfortunate thatthe motion by DAP MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw yesterday to debate in Parliamentthe Grik arms heists and the Al Mauna group as a matter of urgent, definite public importance was rejected by the Speaker Tun Zahir Ismailon the ground that it was not "urgent".

    The reason for the rejection is not only unsupportable but makes a mockery of Parliament as the highest political forum in the country relevant to the country bybeing able to address the most topical issues and concerns of the people.

    The statement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that a White Paper on the Al Mauna arms heists woud be presented to Parliament is most welcome, as this was also proposed in Seng Giaw’s motion yesterday.

    It is unfortunate, however, that the Prime Ministerhas taken the first step to turn the Al Mauna arms heists into a political "footbal" by accusing, without proof, thatPAS andother groups would try to whitewash the cruel actions and deviationism perpetrated by the Al-Ma'unah group.

    As the Prime Minister, Mahathir should be taking the initiative toinvite all political parties, including the Barisan Alternative opposition parties, to adopt a joint common approach to deal with the various grave issues highlighted by the Al Mauna arms heists instead of politicising the issues by launching a gratuitous and unprovoked political attack on the Opposition.

    Political leaders must respond to the issues raised by theMauna arms heists not as UMNO, MCA, MIC, PAS, Keadilan or DAP leaders but as leaders representing allMalaysians regardless of race, religion or political affiliation who cherish security, peace, harmony and tolerance in our multi-racial and multi-religious nation.

    The Al Mauna murders, and in particular the barbaric torture of police detective Kpl. R. Sagadevan and commando Mathew anak Medan, must be condemned unreservedlyand those responsible for such heinous crimes and inhumanity must face the full wrath of the law.

    The grave issues highlighted by the Grik arms heists and Al Mauna crimes must not be lost sight of, namely:

    · The gross breakdown of military discipline and security procedures as highlighted by the ease with which two military bases could be robbed of high-calibre weaponry the previous Sunday - and the urgent need to restore military discipline, efficiency and competence in the whole chain of military command. Also bear in mind theold saying that there are no bad soldiers but bad officers.

    · The failure of the Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) and all State religious departments tomonitor and check Islamic deviationist groups like Al Maunah which was prepared to resort to violence to achieve their purported ends, e.g. an Islamic state.

    While all Malaysians, including Barisan Nasional and Barisan Alternative leaders, must act in unison to work out a common nationalstrategy to overcome these grave problems, as therecan be no compromise to preserve national security, peace, harmony and tolerance in multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia, we must not go overboard and press panic buttons as to lose proper perspective.

    The Grik arms heists was initially described by the Defence Minister, Datuk Najib Tun Razak as "a scene from a Hollywood movie", with readers reminded of the Sean Connery-Nicholas Cage movie The Rock, where renegade soldiers struck with clinical precision to cart away weapons from a military armour before laying siege at the Alcatraz penal island off San Francisco. Even the final stand-off between the Army Field Commander Lt. Jen Datuk Zaini and Al Maunah leader Sheikh Amin Mohd Razali was described in Hollywood terms as akin tothe film High Noon.

    However, if not for the vast arsenal of high-calibre weaponry robbed from the two military camps, and the eventual loss of three lives, the Al Mauna arms heists which have more elements of farce than drama would more suitably belong to the theatre of the absurd or a Hollywood farce like Its A Mad, Mad, Mad World!

    Mahathir said yesterday that Al-Maunah wants to topple the Government and set up an Islamic state, but the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai has publicly said that the Al Maunah leader Amin is "mentally-unstable", leading a rag-tag gang most of whom had never used a gun.

    It is an eternalblot on the record and reputation of the Malaysian armed forces that a ragtag gang of15 people led by a 29-year-old "mentally-unstable", ex-army private could empty two high-security armouries of vast cache of high-calibre weapons, including some100 M-16 rifles, heavy and light machine guns,grenade launchers, high-exposive shells and thousands rounds of ammunition.

    What would have happened if such fearsome firepower, enough to equip a small army and start a war, had fallen into the hands of professionally-trained people?

    The Al Mauna army heists would have beennipped in the bud if there had been no breakdown of military discipline and security procedures, where officers could pull rank to disregard rules and regulations.

    In these circumstances, while the government should learn the lesson from Al Mauna tobe on greater alert to stamp out religious deviationist groups which espouse violence to achieve their purported ends, it should be even more concerned about the shocking breakdown of military discipline and security as happened in the two Grik army camps as it is such military lapses which pose the greatest threat to national security and safety.

    Najib had said that a board of inquiry had been set up into the arms heists. Who are the members of this board of inquiry?It will be unacceptable if this board of inquiry is an internal one. I endorse what A. Kadir Jasin’s "Other Thots" column on Sunday that "Assurances of internal investigations by the military top brass and the Ministry of Defence are no longer sufficient".The Cabinet tomorrow should decide on an independent public inquiry into the Al Mauna arms heists if the government is serious in wanting to restore public confidence in the military. The Al Mauna arms heists should not be politicised asthis should be treated as an issue whch transcends party politics. Malaysia should, in this regard,learn from the experiences ofreligious fanaticisms in other countries, e.g:

    · Aum Shinri Kyo "Supreme Truth" cult in Japan - a syncretistic religion combining elements of Buddhism with Christianity. It reachedpeak membership of about 20,000 worldwide. Many of them were drawn to thegroup because of a promise that they would develop supernatural powers; others wereattracted by the group's rejection of the corruption and materialism which they sawthroughout modern Japan. Aum was responsible for the spreading of a nerve gas, Sarin, in a Tokyosubway station in March 1995 whichkilled 11and injured over 5000.

    · Over 1,000 people belonging to a Christian doomsday religious sect in Uganda died in March this year.

    · In March 1997, 21 women and 18 men of theHeaven's Gate doomsday cult in California committed suicide in three groups on three successive days.

    · In 1978, the case ofthe murder/suicide of over 900 people in Jonestown, Guyana led by Jim Jones.

    · The Waco Branch Davidians tragedy in the United States in 1993, where about 80 peopledied of stabwounds, gun shots and from the effects of smoke and flames,including21 children.

    Any attempt to "politicise" these incidents of religious fanaticism, for example, would not have contributed to understanding and forestalling their recurrence.

    Fanatical religious deviationist sects espousing violence must be stamped out but they should not be politicised into party political issues. Right-thinking Malaysians hope that the current meeting of Parliament will see Barisan Nasional and the Barisan Alternative MPs setting the example of putting national interests above party politics, by agreeing to address the many important national concerns and issues highlighted bythe Al Mauna arms heists as transcending party politics instead of turning them into a political "football" to further divide the country.

    For a start, let the Cabinet tomorrow show statesmanship and take the path-breaking decision toestablish a joint Barisan Nasional-Barisan Alternative Committee to work out a bi-partisan national counter-strategy to address the grave issues raised by the Al Mauna arms heists.

    - Lim Kit Siang -

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