National interest demand that the Barisan Nasional and the Barisan Alternative should co-operate to work out a bipartisan national counter-strategy to prevent the recurrence of the Grik arms heists and to stamp out deviationist religious groups which espouse violence and are prepared to maim and murder to achieve their purported ends.
This can be done through the establishment of a Joint Barisan Nasional-Barisan Alternative Committee to work out a bipartisan national counter strategy to prevent the recurrence of the Grik arms heists and the Al-Mauna hostages and barbaric torture/murders and to effectively address the grave issues raised by them.
It will be a national misfortune if the Grik arms heists and the Al Mauna hostages/murders are turned into a political "football", clouding or even sidelining the grave issues highlighed by them.
It is most unfortunate that the motion by DAP MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw yesterday to debate in Parliament the Grik arms heists and the Al Mauna group as a matter of urgent, definite public importance was rejected by the Speaker Tun Zahir Ismail on the ground that it was not "urgent".
The reason for the rejection is not only unsupportable but makes a mockery of Parliament as the highest political forum in the country relevant to the country by being able to address the most topical issues and concerns of the people.
The statement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that a White Paper on the Al Mauna arms heists woud be presented to Parliament is most welcome, as this was also proposed in Seng Giaw’s motion yesterday.
It is unfortunate, however, that the Prime Minister has taken the first step to turn the Al Mauna arms heists into a political "football" by accusing, without proof, that PAS and other groups would try to whitewash the cruel actions and deviationism perpetrated by the Al-Ma'unah group.
As the Prime Minister, Mahathir should be taking the initiative to invite all political parties, including the Barisan Alternative opposition parties, to adopt a joint common approach to deal with the various grave issues highlighted by the Al Mauna arms heists instead of politicising the issues by launching a gratuitous and unprovoked political attack on the Opposition.
Political leaders must respond to the issues raised by the Mauna arms heists not as UMNO, MCA, MIC, PAS, Keadilan or DAP leaders but as leaders representing all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or political affiliation who cherish security, peace, harmony and tolerance in our multi-racial and multi-religious nation.
The Al Mauna murders, and in particular the barbaric torture of police detective Kpl. R. Sagadevan and commando Mathew anak Medan, must be condemned unreservedly and those responsible for such heinous crimes and inhumanity must face the full wrath of the law.
The grave issues highlighted by the Grik arms heists and Al Mauna crimes
must not be lost sight of, namely:
The Grik arms heists was initially described by the Defence Minister, Datuk Najib Tun Razak as "a scene from a Hollywood movie", with readers reminded of the Sean Connery-Nicholas Cage movie The Rock, where renegade soldiers struck with clinical precision to cart away weapons from a military armour before laying siege at the Alcatraz penal island off San Francisco. Even the final stand-off between the Army Field Commander Lt. Jen Datuk Zaini and Al Maunah leader Sheikh Amin Mohd Razali was described in Hollywood terms as akin to the film High Noon.
However, if not for the vast arsenal of high-calibre weaponry robbed from the two military camps, and the eventual loss of three lives, the Al Mauna arms heists which have more elements of farce than drama would more suitably belong to the theatre of the absurd or a Hollywood farce like Its A Mad, Mad, Mad World!
Mahathir said yesterday that Al-Maunah wants to topple the Government and set up an Islamic state, but the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai has publicly said that the Al Maunah leader Amin is "mentally-unstable", leading a rag-tag gang most of whom had never used a gun.
It is an eternal blot on the record and reputation of the Malaysian armed forces that a ragtag gang of 15 people led by a 29-year-old "mentally-unstable", ex-army private could empty two 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.
What would have happened if such fearsome firepower, enough to equip a small army and start a war, had fallen into the hands of professionally-trained people?
The Al Mauna army heists would have been nipped in the bud if there had been no breakdown of military discipline and security procedures, where officers could pull rank to disregard rules and regulations.
In these circumstances, while the government should learn the lesson from Al Mauna to be on greater alert to stamp out religious deviationist groups which espouse violence to achieve their purported ends, it should be even more concerned about the shocking breakdown of military discipline and security as happened in the two Grik army camps as it is such military lapses which pose the greatest threat to national security and safety.
Najib had said that a board of inquiry had been set up into the arms
heists. Who are the members of this board of inquiry? It will be
unacceptable if this board of inquiry is an internal one. I endorse what
A. Kadir Jasin’s "Other Thots" column on Sunday that "Assurances
of internal investigations by the military top brass and the Ministry of
Defence are no longer sufficient". The Cabinet tomorrow should
decide on an independent public inquiry into the Al Mauna arms heists if
the government is serious in wanting to restore public confidence in the
The Al Mauna arms heists should not be politicised as this should be treated as an issue whch transcends party politics. Malaysia should, in this regard, learn from the experiences of religious fanaticisms in other countries, e.g:
Any attempt to "politicise" these incidents of religious fanaticism, for example, would not have contributed to understanding and forestalling their recurrence.
Fanatical religious deviationist sects espousing violence must be stamped out but they should not be politicised into party political issues. Right-thinking Malaysians hope that the current meeting of Parliament will see Barisan Nasional and the Barisan Alternative MPs setting the example of putting national interests above party politics, by agreeing to address the many important national concerns and issues highlighted by the Al Mauna arms heists as transcending party politics instead of turning them into a political "football" to further divide the country.
For a start, let the Cabinet tomorrow show statesmanship and take the path-breaking decision to establish a joint Barisan Nasional-Barisan Alternative Committee to work out a bi-partisan national counter-strategy to address the grave issues raised by the Al Mauna arms heists.