Cabinet tomorrow should apologise to the nation and Najib relieved as Defence Minister for the gross negligence resulting in th arms heists in two army camps on Sunday

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The Cabinet at its meeting tomorrow should apologise to the nation and Datuk Najib Tun Razak should be relieved as Defence Minister for the gross negligence resulting in Sunday's arms heists at two army camps involving high-calibre weapons, including at least 100 M-16 rifles, heavy and light machine guns,  grenade launchers, high-exposive shells and  thousands rounds of ammunition, seriously compromising national security, safety and welfare of ordinary Malaysians.

In July last year, four  Steyr AUG assault rifles were stolen from an army camp which  subsequently ended in the hands of the notorious group of bank robbers called the Steyr Gang, which was responsible for a spate of nine bank robberies and the murder of a security guard.

There is at present at large another gang of robbers armed with M-16 assault rifle, which had  pulled off three major robberies in recent months involving about RM2.5 million.

There is also a disturbing record of  army-issued weapons being smuggled and used in public.

It has been reported that in 1993, the armed forces submitted to police a list of 50 firearms, mainly pistols and M-16s assault rifles, which had been reported missing since 1970.  What is the position of the lost weaponry from military armoury between 1993 and Sunday’s arms heists? Parliament should  told of the true situation when it meets next Monday.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that poor security checks and an inadequate weapons control system had made the arms heists possible.  The question is why there had been such poor security checks and inadequate weapons control system when there is already a serious problem of army-issued weapons being stolen and  used for high crimes such as bank robberies and murder?

The reaction yesterday of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to the arms heists is most regrettable.

In stating that the arms heists  posed no threat to national security, Mahathir was making light of  public concerns about the security implications of the incidents, especially with the increasing use of  army-issued weapons in capital crimes in the country, whether by the former Steyr Gang or the M16 Gang still at large.

In stating that there could be a "political motive" behind the arms heists, the Prime Minister stands guilty of trying to politicise every issue in the country, particularly arising from gross government negligence when concerns about security of military establishments and army-issued weaponry  is no prerogative of the ruling party.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman