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.