Arms heists inquiry - don't limit to military role

    Media Statement by DAP National Chairman Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Saturday July 15, 2000:

    DAP reiterates call for independent inquiry to conduct wide-ranging and comprehensive probe into the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and hostatge-killings, covering military, police, Home Ministry, Jakim, information and nation-building aspects


    The two army boards of inquiry announced by the Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to investigate the July 2 arms heists in Grik are not only self-serving, unsatisfactory and unacceptable when the army itself should be the target of investigation, they are also too limited in scope as there are many other aspects involving other non-military institutions or aspects which also must be examined.

    Yesterday, the Chief of Defence Forces Jen Tan Sri Mohd Zahidi Zainuddin said that members of the deviationist Al-Ma'unah Group had been preparing for a long time to rob the two army camps in Perak of arms and ammunition. He said:

    "I think the plan was not hatched within one or two days but had been prepared over a long time...taking into account the movements of duty officers at Camp 304.

    "In my view also this did not occur due to any dissatisfaction over the administration of the armed forces."

    If Zaini is right, then this would imply that there had been serious weaknesses and even failure on the part of the police to monitor and check dangerous deviationist groups which had long been preparing to resort to violence to pursue their purported ends.

    There should be a wide-ranging inquiry which would also investigate into the police dimension of the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and hostage-killings, as to whether the police had been negligent in being unable to monitor and forestall the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and killings.

    Such an inquiry would also be an occasion to publicly commend the Police if they had conducted themselves in a most exemplary manner in the entire Al-Ma'unah episode.

    There is then the question as to whether the Home Ministry had been negligent in approving the registration of Al-Ma'unah under the Societies Act in 1999 when in 1995, the armed forces Religious Corps (Kagat) had identified the concept of Ma'unah as deviationist in a booklet titled Ajaran Sesat - Satu Ancaman Terhadap Keselamatan Negara (Deviant Teachings - A Threat to National Security). The booklet singled out Al-Ma'unah, simply called Ma'unah (saviour) as an example in the chapter on the characteristics of deviationism in practices and teachings.

    This should be another subject of an intensive inquiry. Furthermore, there should also be an inquiry as to why the Kagat booklet identifying Ma'unah as deviationist had failed to make the impact it should have or there would not be nine members of the armed forces being questioned by police on suspicion of being involved in the Al-Ma'unah activities.

    Another area for investigation is the failure of the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to monitor and check Islamic deviationist groups prepared to resort to violence such as Al-Ma'unah when Al-Ma'unah had a website on the Internet stating its objectives.

    There should also be an inquiry into the information aspect of the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and hostage-killings, which was a "P.R." disaster, laying the seeds for the widespread skepticism and public distrust towards official accounts and explanations as to what happened in Grik and Bukit Jenalik.

    Finally, and most important of all, there should be a full inquiry as to the after-effects of the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and killings on the nation-building process in Malaysia and how to ensure that they are not allowed to result in greater racial and religious polarisation in the country. For this reason, DAP reiterates its call for an independent inquiry to conduct a wide-ranging and comprehensive probe into the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and hostatge-killings, covering military, police, Home Ministry, Jakim, information and nation-building aspects.

    Parliament should not be content with the two narrow in-house army investigations and should pressure the Cabinet next week to set an a wide-ranging and comprehensive independent investigation into the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and killings not merely imited to the military dimension



    - Lim Kit Siang -

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