Depoliticise Al-Ma'unah arms heists

    Media Statement by DAP National Chairman Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 16th July 2000:

    The Inspector-General of Police should give a briefing to leaders of all political parties on what actually happened in the five-day Grik arms heists and hostage killings as a first step to depoliticise the Al-Ma'unah arms heists


    It is most regrettable that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has ignored the DAP call for the establishment of a Joint Barisan Nasional-Barisan Alternative Committee for a bipartisan approach to address the many serious issues thrown up in the aftermath of the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and killings.

    The establishment of a Joint Barisan Nasional-Barisan Alternative Committee would ensure that Barisan Nasional and Barisan Alternative leaders adopt sober, serious and responsible responses to the grave issues arising from the Grik arms heists and the Al Mauna hostages and barbaric torture/murder of a army ranger and police detective and resist the temptation to play party politics to score petty political points.

    Unfortunately, the events of the past week has seen a spiralling of the politicisation of the Al-Ma'unah arms heists, in utter disregard of a re-polarisation of race and religion in the country with an insidious two-pronged campaign to blame PAS without any proof whatsoever and to frighten the non-Muslims that they will be persecuted if they do not support the Barisan Nasional.

    The highly opportunistic attempts by political parties to squeeze maximum political advantage from the Al-Ma'unah arms heists reached a new height yesterday when the Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik tried to whip up a frenzy of national alarm and fear over "developments where certain groups are resorting to violence to achieve their political aims, whether to topple the Government or to set up an Islamic state".

    History has always been written or re-written by those in power but Malaysians are seeing the Al-Ma'unah arms heists being rewritten in a matter of a week.

    Some Barisan Nasional leaders like Keng Yaik want Malaysians to believe that the country is crawling with "mad mullahs" out to create chaos and violence to topple the elected government of the day - which is not the impression given to the people in the initial government accounting of the Bukit Jenalik hostages-standoff.

    Although the Al-Ma'unah gang pulled off the stunning robbery of vast cache of high-calibre weaponry from two military camps in Grik, it would appear in retrospect that this was primarily because of the shocking breakdown of military discipline and armoury security and the impersonation abilities rather than the prowess of the Al-Ma'unah gang.

    What appeared to be dazzling professionalism in the seizure of the vast arsenal of weaponry fizzled into shocking amateurism when Al-Ma'unah gang holed up in Bukit Jenalik, with the majority of the gang members unable to use firearms led by a 29-year-old ex-army private whom the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai had publicly described as "mentally-unstable".

    Mahathir himself ridiculed the capability of the Al-Ma'unah gang when he said in Putrajaya after the UMNO Supreme Council last Monday: "What can they do by holing up in Sauk, without preparation or training? Some of them have not even used a gun..they were armed with parangs."

    But to now, it is still not established whether it is only the Al-Ma'unah leader Mohd Amin Mohd Razali and a handful who were arrested with him in Sauk who are guilty of wanting to use violence to pursue their deviationist ends, or whether all the 800-odd Al-Ma'unah members in the country are also guilty of such violent designs.

    If it is the latter, why is the government taking such a long time to ban Al-Ma'unah? The fact that Al-Ma'unah has not yet been banned although its identity has been known for the past fortnight can only mean that the authorities are still not convinced that it is a condition of Al-Ma'unah membership to support violent means to pursue deviationist ends.

    But in the past one week, there appears to be a deliberate attempt to create fear, particularly among the non-Muslims, that the country is crawling with violence-prone "mad mullahs" trying to pull down the entire edifice of society. This is the most opportunistic and irresponsible politics for a multi-racial and multi-religious nation like Malaysia and I call on Keng Yaik and others like him to stop their irresponsible politiking and fear-mongering.

    Yesterday, the Information Minister Tan Sri Khalil Yaakob said Mahathir will make a TV address to the nation soon on the Grik arms heist by the Al-Ma'unah group.

    Is Mahathir giving the TV address as Prime Minister of all Malaysians or as UMNO President who wants to exploit the issue against the Opposition?

    It would do the nation greater good if leaders of all political parties, both Barisan Nasional and Barisan Alternative, could jointly appear on TV to assure Malaysians that they are united in a common purpose to combat violent deviationist activities.

    It is still not too late to stop the irresponsible politicking on the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and killings and for all political parties to come together to recognise it as a grave national problem which should be addressed transcending party interests.

    Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the opposition's claim that the Grik arms heist by the Al-Ma'unah Group is an UMNO-created drama is most amazing and absolutely preposterous.

    The DAP and the Barisan Alternative had never claimed that the Al-Ma'unah arms heists is an UMNO-created drama.

    However, Abdullah should be aware that the government is suffering a grave credibility gap and that there is widespread suspicion and skepticism among the people about various accounts and explanations given by Barisan Nasional Ministers.

    I have never believed that the Al-Ma'unah arms heists is an UMNO-created drama but I have many questions and doubts about the arms heists and hostage killings which do not permit me to accept 100 per cent all the explanations and statements being given by Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders.

    This is why there should be an independent and wide-ranging inquiry into the Al-Ma'unah arms heists by members not currently in army or police service if the government is to overcome the serious credibility gap to tell the true story of the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and hostage killings.

    For a start, the Inspector-General of Police should give a briefing to leaders of all political parties as to what actually happened in the five-day arms heists, hostage-standoff and killings as a first step to depoliticise the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and killings and to re-unite Malaysians through greater understanding and appreciation of how peace and harmony in a multi-racial and multi-religious society like Malaysia can better fostered within a democratic framework.



    - Lim Kit Siang -

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