(In reply to NST Letter Of The Day: Lessons from arms heist )
12th July 2000
New Straits Times,
My attention has been drawn to NST "Letter of the day"
(July 12, 2000) entitled "Lessons from arms heist" by Chairil Anuar,
"I cannot understand how any rational Malaysian could condone or not condemn Al Ma'unah's acts of terrorism and murder. I cannot understand how Reformasi websites like Laman Reformasi or their sympathisers, like Malaysiakini.com could praise these monsters or congratulate them for ‘breaching security’. Do Lim, Pas, Chandra and Keadilan support the view expressed in Laman Reformasi and Malaysiakini?"
Since I have been targetted for attack by the writer of the "Letter of the day", let me respond to his two questions directed specifically at me on the basis of the record of my media statements in the past few days, namely:
1. DAP’s offer of co-operaiton to the ruling party
In my media statement yesterday (11th July 2000), calling for a "Joint
Barisan Nasional -Barisan Alternative Committee" to work out
a bi-partisan national counter-strategy to the Al-Mauna arms heists,
"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."
I also said:
I do not need to quote at length as to what I meant by ‘not go overboard’
and ‘press panic buttons as to lose proper perspective’, except
the following conclusion:
I end my media statement yesterday thus:
2. Condemnation and no condoning of Al-Mauna brutal crimes
The allegation that the DAP and I had condoned and not condemned the Al-Mauna crimes is pure falsehood.
Immediately after the news reports of the end of the Al-Mauna arms heists,
I said in my media statement dated 7th July 2000:
"The arms heists could have a very bloody end if the gang had been well-trained and highly-professional as compared to most of Al Maunah gang members who had not held a gun before and did not know how to make full use of the huge stash of high-calibre weaponry they had stolen.
"In this sense, the country was lucky but not lucky enough to avoid the loss of three lives. The nation mourns the death of Det Kpl K. Sagathevan of Kuala Lumpur special branch and private Mattew a/k Medan, 25, an army ranger, two hostages who were killed by the criminal gang. These two deaths would not have occurred if there had not been the shocking lapse of security at the two military camps where the two arms heists were successfully staged on Sunday. The government should ensure that the families of Sagathevan and Mattew would be fully compensated for their unnecessary deaths and Parliament should be informed of the details.
"While the people commend the police and army for ending the Al Maunah arms heists without more loss of lives, the nation wants to see an immediate revamp of military weaponry security procedures and restoration of military discipline to ensure that no officer would be allowed to pull rank to disregard rules and regulations leading to the two army heists on Sunday."
On 9th July, 2000, I said:
"Members of Parliament from the Barisan Nasional and Barisan Alternative should regard these issues as of overriding national interests which are of great concern to all Malaysians and political parties and they should not be turned into a partisan political football to score petty political points. For this reason, I would make a special call to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to issue a directive to Barisan Nasional MPs not to politicise the issues involved, just as Barisan Alternative MPs would not want to score petty political points on these important matters.
"The nation and people had heaved a collective sigh of national relief on Thursday when the five-day Griks arms heists and Kampong Janelik hostage/ siege ended without a bloodbath, but it is wrong and dishonest for government leaders like the Defence Minister, Datuk Najib Tun Razak to claim that it was ‘total victory’ for the authorities or that it was a ‘bloodless end’.
"The lives of three persons lost, two from the police and the army, and the national trauma and shame that such a vast cache of high-calibre weaponry could be so easily robbed from high-security military armouries and the disastrous prospect of a bloodbath had these heavy weaponry, including some 100 M-16 rifles, heavy and light machine guns, grenade launchers, high-exposive shells and thousands rounds of ammunition, fallen into dangerous and highly-professional hands cannot be glossed over by the fact that the end was not as bloody as feared."
On 10th July 2000, I said:
"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."
On 11th July, 2000, I said:
Those who are interested in my views can visit the websites http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/3939/ or http://www.malaysia.net/dap/enet.htm.
What is clear however, is that there could be be no basis whatsoever for your "Letter of the day" to suggest that the DAP and I had not, at the earliest opportunity, condemned the Al-Mauna crimes or that the DAP had not offered our "hands in co-operation to the ruling party to jointly work towards ridding Malaysian society of elements such as the Al-Ma'unah and to realise a situation where such elements cannot breed".
Your "Letter of the day" is one of great dishonesty, mischief
and malice and the NST and "Chairil Anuar" should have the
decency to apologise for such a letter. I hope that you can publish my
response in full in the name of justice to put right the record.
Lim Kit Siang