All the signs seem to be pointing in this direction, following the steadfast refusal of the Barisan Nasional government to rise above party politics to deal with the Al-Ma置nah arms heists and killings and the total lack of response to the DAP call for the establishment of a Joint Barisan Nasional-Barisan Alternative Committee for a sober, serious and responsible bipartisan approach to address the many serious issues thrown up in the aftermath of the Al-Ma置nah arms heists and killings.
Since the surrender and arrest of the Al-Ma置nah gang at Bukit Jenalik, Grik on the fifth-day of the arms heists on 6th July 2000, there had been a relentless spiralling of the politicisation of the Al-Ma置nah arms heists in the past 10 days.
Information Minister Tan Sri Khalil Yaakob had announced that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad will make a TV address to the nation soon on the Grik arms heist by the Al-Ma置nah group - although it is not clear whether Mahathir will be giving the TV address as Prime Minister of all Malaysians or as UMNO President who wants to exploit the issue against the Opposition.
UMNO Information Chief, Datuk Mustapha Mohamed yesterday briefed 300 UMNO speakers on the Al-Ma置nah cult for the launching of the UMNO nation-wide campaign to inform members "how the cult tried to topple the Government by the use of force after they succeeded in getting the support of Muslims to their cause using words such as jihad (holy war) and syahid (martyr)".
At this briefing, Mustapha made an allegation which had never been made before whether by the Police or any Minister, that Al-Ma置nah had "urged its members to topple the Government by force". (NST 17th July 2000).
If it is true that Al-Ma置nah had urged its members to topple the Government by force, why hasn稚 the government banned Al-Ma置nah yet? And where are the evidence to substantiate this allegation that the 800-odd Al-Ma置nah members in the country are involved in the design to overthrow the elected government by force?
And an even more frightening question is how could the police and the special branch be so incompetent and inefficient as to be totally ignorant of the existence of an organisation dedicated to the overthrow of the elected government by violence although Al-Ma置nah had been operating with some 800 members in various parts of the country?
Or is Mustapha痴 allegation merely the latest example of the escalation in the language of the spiralling of politicisation of the Al-Ma置nah arms heists, not so much directed at Al-Ma置nah but at the legitimate opposition?
Meanwhile, some Barisan Nasional leaders like Gerakan President Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik are trying to whip up a national frenzy of alarm and fear by giving the impression that the country is crawling with "mad mullahs" out to create chaos and violence - or to use his own words, "developments where certain groups are resorting to violence to achieve their political aims, whether to topple the Government or to set up an Islamic state".
In the process, the Al-Ma置nah arms heists and killings have taken on a rapid transformation in the public mind in the past ten days.
Although the Al-Ma置nah gang pulled off the stunning robbery of vast cache of high-calibre weaponry from two military camps in Grik, it would appear by the end of the five-day standoff that the biggest problem was the shocking breakdown of military discipline and armoury security which could allow a ragtag gang of daring impersonators to rob the two military camps of vast arsenal of high-calibre weaponry.
What appeared to be dazzling professionalism in the seizure of the vast arsenal of weaponry fizzled into shocking amateurism when the Al-Ma置nah gang holed up in Bukit Jenalik, with the majority of the gang members unable to use firearms led by a 29-year-old ex-army private whom the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai had publicly described as "mentally-unstable".
Mahathir himself ridiculed the capability of the Al-Ma置nah gang when he said in Putrajaya after the UMNO Supreme Council last Monday: "What can they do by holing up in Sauk, without preparation or training? Some of them have not even used a gun...they were armed with parangs."
In the past one week, however, there appeared to be a deliberate attempt to create fear, particularly among the non-Muslims, that the country is crawling with violence-prone "mad mullahs" trying to pull down the entire edifice of society.
The spurning of offers of co-operation by the Opposition, such as the DAP proposal for the establishment of a Barisan Nasional-Barisan Alternative Committee to transcend party politics and to deal with the problems and issues thrown up in the aftermath of the Al-Ma置nah arms heists and killings as a national problem seems to indicate that the Barisan Nasional leadership has taken a policy decision to fully politicise the issue.
The unusual summoning of the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council meeting next Monday could mean only one thing - that the Barisan Nasional is launching a "free for all" in politicising the Al-Ma置nah arms heists and killings by launching an attack on the Barisan Alternative.
The allegation by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that the Opposition had claimed that the Grik arms heist by the Al-Ma'unah Group was an UMNO-created drama would be the centrepiece of the Barisan Nasional attack on the Barisan Alternative.
For the record, the DAP and the Barisan Alternative had never claimed that the Al-Ma置nah arms heists was an UMNO-created drama.
The government, however, suffers from a grave credibility gap causing widespread suspicion and skepticism among the people about various accounts and explanations given by Barisan Nasional Ministers.
I have never believed that the Al-Ma置nah arms heists is an UMNO-created drama but I have many questions and doubts about the arms heists, hostage-standoff, the killings and Al-Ma置nah which do not permit me to accept 100 per cent all the explanations and statements given by Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders.
This is why there should be an independent and wide-ranging inquiry into the Al-Ma置nah arms heists by members not currently in army or police service if the government is to overcome the serious credibility gap to tell the true story of the Al-Ma置nah arms heists and hostage killings.
As a Malaysian writer has written, the "mishandling"
of the the Al-Ma置nah arms heists and killings "will only perpetuate
a cycle of malignancy". The Al-Ma置nah tragedy should be the
catalyst to unite Malaysians of all races, religions and political affilation
in a new search for national unity instead of becoming the cause
for a new round of politics of fear and falsehoods leading to greater
polarisation of race and religion in multi-racial, multi-religious Malaysia.