Cabinet should give assurance that there would be public court martials down  the whole chain of military command for those responsible for the Grik arms heists scandal

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Monday): Last Friday, Defence Minister Datuk Najib Tun Razak said that initial findings of the arms heists in two military camps in Grik, Perak  on 2nd July 2000 point towards a failure at the end of the chain of command.

The Defence Minister appears to be preparing the ground to  absolve himself as well as all senior military officers  of all responsibility for one of the most disgraceful episodes in the history of Malaysian armed forces - where a ragtag gang of 15 people led by a 29-year-old "mentally-unstable", ex-army private could empty the high-security armouries of vast cache of high-calibre weapons, including some  100 M-16 rifles, heavy and light machine guns,  grenade launchers, high-exposive shells and  thousands rounds of ammunition.

With such a vast arsenal of high-powered weapons, a veritable bloodbath could have ensued - but  the country was spared such a bloodbath although three lives were lost, probably because the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Noran Mai was right, that the Al Mauna arms heists leader, Sheikh Amin Mohd Razali, was "mentally-unstable".

The brutal torture and killing of police detective Kpl R. Sagadevan and commando Matew ak Medan must be condemned and the full rigours of the law must be brought to bear against criminals who had committed these heinous crimes, but from the events that unfolded after the arms heists in the two military camps, it is clear that national security, safety and welfare was compromised not so much by a motley gang led by a "mentally-unstable" ex-army private, but by the shocking breakdown in military discipline and weapon security system.

To ensure that the army does not become the greatest threat to national security and safety because of the laxity of military discipline and security, the Cabinet should give assurance that there would be public court martials down  the whole chain of military command for those responsible for the Grik arms heists scandal.

In this connection, Malaysians are still waiting for an explanation from Najib as to why the armed forces did not know that Matew was missing and was one of the four hostages in the Kampong Jenalik hostage siege until after the surrender of the Al Mauna group, as this reflects another shocking lapse of military efficiency.

Malaysians also want to know why the Police is not taking action to recognise the service of Sagadevan  through a  posthumous promotion and award, which the Defence Ministry proposes to do in the case of commando Matew.  The Home Ministry should come out with a clear statement on the posthumous promotion and award for Sagadevan.

It has been reported that apart from the 28 people detained in Kampong Janelik when the Al Mauna gang surrendered last Thursday, the police have arrested another 24 people in connection with the Al Mauna group from various parts of the country.

The Police should release the full list of the 24 people arrested and the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi should direct the police not to use the Internal Security Act powers of detention-without-trial but under other existing laws which will give every person the chance to defend oneself in an open trial.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman