Is government reneging and backtracking from its commitment to present a  White Paper on Al-Mau地ah arms heists and killings and  even to have  a special Parliamentary debate before October budget meeting?

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang 

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Najib  Tun Razak said yesterday that the Defence Ministry has completed  its inquiries on the Al-Ma置nah arms heists at two military camps in Grik last month, but said that the government had to wait until the completion of the trial of  Al-Ma置nah members before deciding to publish the reports as it would interfere with the court process.

This is most unsatisfactory and the government should explain whether it is reneging and backtracking from its commitment to present a White Paper on the Al-Ma置nah arms heists and killings and  even to have a special Parliamentary debate before the October budget meeting.

At the July meeting of Parliament, Barisan Alternative MPs were given to understand that the White Paper on the Al-Ma置nah arms heists and killings would be ready in a month and that a special Parliamentary meeting would be convened to debate the White Paper, probably this month itself.
From Najib痴 statement, it would appear that the White Paper has been postponed to an indefinite date, as the trial of the Al-Ma置nah members for the arms heists and killings would take years before the entire legal process is exhausted.

On 12th July 2000, Najib announced the setting up of two army boards of inquiry into the Grik arms heists, the first headed by Deputy Commander of the Sixth  Brigade Colonel Abdul Kadir Babudin to investigate what happened at the camps while the second, a special board of  inquiry  headed by Commander of Army Training Major General Datuk Amir Baharuddin was to  conduct the overall investigation to identify the weaknesses and recommend changes in the Armed Forces standard operating procedure.

Najib said  at the time that the White Paper would be based on the findings of these two boards of inquiry.

Now that the findings of the two army boards of inquiry are to be withheld until the full disposal of the criminal proceedings against  the Al-Ma置nah members, does this mean that the White Paper has also been put in the "cold storage" indefinitely?

This is why the DAP had called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Grik arms heists and hostage killings, which would have the powers to proceed with its wide-ranging investigations unaffected by criminal proceedings against the Al-Ma置nah members.

On 17th July, Mej-Jen Datuk Amir Baharuddin called on the public not to believe in rumours but to wait for the findings of the high-level probe by his Army Special Board of Inquiry, declaring "We have nothing to hide and there is no bias in our investigations".

The top army officers and the Cabinet should realise that putting the findings of the two army boards of inquiry into "cold storage" is unlikely to enhance public credibility whether of the armed forces or the government on a security scandal of the first magnitude.

Yesterday, Najib staged a demonstration within the Ministry of Defence compound in Kuala Lumpur  to show that the vast arsenal of high-calibre weaponry stolen from the two Grik army camps last month could in fact be loaded by 15 men into three Pajeros - and the  whole demonstration was completed by 15 super-fit army commandos in four minutes.

The four-minute demonstration raises more questions than given answers, firstly why it took the Defence Ministry some six weeks after the arms heists to put up such a demonstration, and even more pertinently, why the authorities concerned have not been able to reconcile the many contradictions and inconsistencies in the various official accounts about  the Al-Ma置nah  arms heists and killings, such as:

Most important of all, the government and in particular the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah owes a full and satisfactory explanation to the country and the families of the two security personnel who gave their lives, police sergeant R. Segadevan and army commando Mathew anak Medan as to why no one had been charged with murder when the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had asked the bereaved families "to leave it to  court to punish the murderers".

The 29 Al-Ma置nah members  were charged in Kuala Lumpur  High Court under Section 121 of the Penal Code  with waging war against the Yang di Pertuan Agong which carries the dealth penalty or life imprisonment and fine.

The Attorney-General has not given any acceptable explanation why there had been no charges under murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, attempted murder, attempted robbery and firearms offences under the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act some of which carry the mandatory death sentence.

Furthermore, why no one has been charged for the grenades allegedly fired at the Carlsberg brewery in Shah Alam on July 3 and the Hindu temple complex at Batu Caves on July 9?

It is precisely because there are  so many  unanswered queries about the Al-Ma置nah arms heists and killings, and the government痴 role and most unsatisfactory handling of the whole episode, that the government痴 credibility quotient is at an all-time low and which is not  enhanced by the four-minute  demonstration at the Defence Ministry yesterday.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman