Game Over, Let's Get Down to Business
     

    July 8, 2000
    Press Statement: Game Over, Let's Get Down to Business

    Looking at the comedic performance by the Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the IGP Tan Sri Norian Mai, Lt.-Jen Datuk Zaini Mohamed Said, the police forces and the army in the fiasco of the Al Ma’unah arm heists, one wonders whether the Barisan Nasional government is really competent to secure a lasting social tranquility. I am sure the capture of 27 so-called Al Ma'unah gang members is not the end of the whole drama. The authorities claimed that the organization has several hundreds members across the nation. Possibly there might be a series of crackdowns against the presumed fanatic group. In such operations, the government could conveniently pick up political dissidents, especially those who struggle in religious organizations.

    The existence of the so-called Al Ma’unah group may also provide excuses for the government to justify the continuation of the notorious ISA. Here I would like to reiterate the Barisan Alternatif’s stand that the ISA should never be used in whatever circumstances. The so-called Al Ma’unah members should not be held under ISA—not because of human rights, but the public want the truth to be revealed in open court. These members should be charged and stand trial as soon as possible. We are concerned that the government may use ISA to cover up many untold stories behind the incidence.

    To convince the public that the Al Ma’unah group has a bona fide existence, the authorities have to be absolutely transparent in the process of investigation. I am disturbed that Norian Mai, Najib and Abdullah Badawi were quick to make unsubstantiated and insinuative political accusations even before the incidence had ended conclusively. It seems that they were eager to make the incidence part of the political propaganda soon to be launched by the ruling parties.

    The five-day commotion has left us many doubts and mysteries. The clumsy conducts of the Al Ma’unah gang hardly resembles any sophisticated terrorist cult. Instead, the sequences of events are akin to the familiar episodes of Hollywood action movies. Before the authorities conclude their inquest, we should not rule out that the gang might be inspired by Rambo-like superheroes rather than religious zeal.

    Lt-Jen Datuk Zaini and his soldiers should commended for their adventurous and heroic endeavor to finish off the gang in 8 minutes. Their decisive action to confront the gang contrasted the cumbersome performance of the IGP and his team of police force. Throughout the whole event, the IGP did not seem to treat the hostage-taking incidence seriously. The media were not even given the accurate identities of the hostages—the accounts changed from Chinese durian pickers to Malay Ranger and policeman; however when the episodes ended, one Iban private and one SB were the captives.

    Being the chief commander in charge of the operation, Tan Sri Norian Mai must accept full responsibility for his negligence had led to the unnecessary sacrifice of two servicemen. An inquiry must be established to find out why the police was slow to establish communication with the gang. In any hostage incidence, the normal procedure is to negotiate for the hostage release before starting to exchange fire. I was dismayed to learn from Bernama that Norian Mai was reported refusing to entertain their demands because they requested "ridiculous items such as cigarettes, food and batteries".

    The IGP must answer truthfully what triggered the police to open fire at the gang. According to news report, police had shot dead a gang member, which provoked the revenge execution of the two hostages. Obviously, the IGP’s failure to haul the crossfire was a fatal mistake.

    The clumsy command of the IGP also gave the impression that there were poor coordination and communication with the army. It was reported that Datuk Zaini entered into the forest to negotiate for the gang’s surrender without being informed that the hostages had been killed. Although Datuk Zaini should be praised for his bravery, his decision to gamble with the gang leader empty handed involved extraordinary high risk and fortunately it did not lead more casualties. It is astonished that the IGP could have disregarded their safety and approved this dangerous undertaking.

    The incompetent performance of Norian Mai reflects poorly on the proficiency of police forces. One begins to question the suitability and the appropriateness of police forces to deal with terrorist-like incidence. For his failure to prevent the tragic death, the IGP should be suspended. The Defence Minister should also personally apologize to the families of the victims since the root cause of the saga was the slackness in military administration.

    The Minister could not evade his responsibility over the flawed security procedures in the camps, which resulted havocs to the community around Sauk-Jenalek area and misery to the innocent families of the victims.

    To show that the government has nothing to hide, the BN should allow a Parliamentary Inquiry consists of both ruling and opposition parties to scrutinize all evidences related to the case. The authorities concerned must be frank and transparent in providing all information. Otherwise the public will continue to be skeptical over the authenticity of the so-called Al Ma’unah terrorist group.    

       

    Tian Chua
    Vice President
    Parti KeADILan

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