MPs, both BN and BA, should salvage Parliament from being adjudged irrelevant and inconsequential by jointly petitioning for a full debate on the Al-Ma置nah arms heists and the worst crisis of confidence in the judicial accountability, independence and impartiality

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya,  Friday): Parliament has ended the first week of its current meeting, showing itself to be completely inconsequential and irrelevant to the burning concerns of the people and country as MPs were not allowed to debate either the Al-Ma置nah arms heists or the worst crisis of confidence in judicial accountability, independence and impartiality.

For the past 11 days, the Al-Ma置nah arms heists had hogged all the newspaper headlines and air time but  Members of Parliament  are supposed to live in a world of their own who could not reflect these national concerns in Parliament although they could talk irrelevancies and even "nonsense" under the various bills in the past four days.

The Al-Ma置nah arms heists tops the  talk of the nation, whether in coffee shops, teh-tarik stalls and offfices but not in Parliament ?  What type of a Malaysian Parliament is this?  This is a national shame!

Members of Parliament, whether Barisan Nasional or Barisan Alternative, should be mindful that  they would be failing in their duties as elected representatives of the people entrusted with the responsibilities in the recent general election last November to be the voice of the people if they could not conduct a full debate in the current meeting of Parliament on the burning issues in the country, such as the Al-Ma置nah arms heists and the worst crisis of confidence in judicial accountability, independence and impartiality.

It is a positive sign that on the first two days of Parliament, MPs from the Barisan Alternative and the Barisan Nasional had sought, though unsuccessfully, to adjourn the Dewan Rakyat to debate the Al樽aunah arms heists.

The Speaker, Tun Mohd Zahir Ismail rejected the attempts by the DAP MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw and the Chairman of  Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club Dr. Jamaludin Jarjis (Rompin) on the ground that they failed to comply with the "urgency" requirement under the Standing Orders 18 of the Dewan Rakyat.

The  Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders are behind times, too outmoded and unsuitable to contemporary needs of the people or parliamentary democracy and must be overhauled as  it does not redound to the credit, credibility or public respect  for the  Speaker to convey the impression that he is presiding over a museum instead of a contemporaneous  Parliament which could address the most topical issues of the day .

The fact that there had been two separate attempts by the Barisan Alternative and the Barisan Nasional to adjourn Parliament to debate the Al-Ma置nah arms heists provides a silver lining as it shows that MPs from both sides want justice to be done to Parliament by having a full and proper debate on the Al-Ma置nah arms heists.

The time has come for MPs, both from Barisan Nasional  and Barisan Alternative, to rise above party interests and unite to  salvage Parliament from being adjudged irrelevant and inconsequential by jointly petitioning for a full debate on the Al-Ma置nah arms heists and the worst crisis of confidence in the judicial accountability, independence and impartiality in the current meeting of Parliament.

Parliament will be failing in its duty if it does not seek answers as to how a ragtag Al-Ma置nah 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 to start a war, had fallen into the hands of professionally-trained people rather than  into the hands of the Al-Ma置nah gang most of whose members had not held a gun before and did not know how to make use of the huge stash of weapons?

Parliament is also the proper venue for the government to explain the failures of its various agencies contributing to the Al-Mau地ah arms heists, causing the unnecessary loss of three lives.

For instance, the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi should explain why the Registrar of Societies approved the registration of Al-Ma置nah under the Societies Act in 1999 when the Defence Ministry had as early as 1995 identified the concept of Ma置nah as deviationist.

The armed forces Religious Corps (Kagat) had published  a 144-page booklet titled Ajaran Sesat - Satu Ancaman Terhadap Keselamatan Negara (Deviant Teachings - A Threat to National Security) distributed to all military units in 1995 which singled out  Al Ma置nah, simply called Ma置nah (saviour) as an example in the chapter on the characteristics of deviationism in practices and teachings.

After the Al-Ma置nah arms heists, the Minister in the Prime Minister痴 Department, Senator Datuk Paduka Dr. Abdul Hamid Othman said that the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) had identified the "Al-Ma置nah" group as among the 44 deviationist groups nationwide.

Abdul Hamid should explain to Parliament why Jakim had been so remiss in monitoring Islamic deviationist groups as to allow the Al-Ma置nah arms heists to take place without warning, when Al-Ma置nah had a website on the Internet stating its objectives.

Parliament is also the proper place for the Defence Minister, Datuk Najib Tun Razak to explain why the government has refused to appoint an independent inquiry into the Al-Ma置nah arms heists involving members from outside the armed forces and the Defence Ministry.

This is because while the nation should be concerned about Islamic deviationist groups which  espouse violence to achieve their purported ends, what is of greater concern is 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 has announced that two army inquiry boards had been set up into the Al-Ma置nah arms heists,  the first one on what happened at the two Grik army camps at Kuala Lui outpost and the Battalion 304 camp and the second one on general security in armed forces and their installations, intelligence capabilities, potential for sabotage and loyalty and attitude of personnel.

Last Friday, Najib had said that the first inquiry would take two or three months to be completed.

Does this mean that the White Paper on the Al-Ma置nah arms heists  promised by  the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad would not see the light of day until the end of the year?  Such dilatory tactics are  most unsatisfactory and unacceptable.

The White Paper on the Al-Ma置nah arms heists should be presented in the current meeting of Parliament to allow for a full parliamentary debate.  Although the eight-day Dewan Rakyat meeting  is scheduled to end on 20th July, there should be an extension for another week to allow for the White Paper to be tabled and a full debate to be held.

(14/7/2000)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman