Arms heists: Mahathir should not prejudge White Paper or it would lose all credibility when published

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Saturday): The bomb blast at a Klang shopping centre on Thursday which injured one woman has highlighted the gravity of the government’s credibility gap with the Malaysian people.

Although Selangor State CPO Deputy Commissioner Datuk Nik Ismail Nik Yusuf said yesterday that it was believed to be caused by a  home-made bomb, the general Malaysian public have generally and instantly  linked the Klang explosion with the Al-Ma’unah arms heists of July 2, although the authorities had earlier announced recovery of all weapons stolen from the two Grik army camps.

This is a reflection of the yawning gap of the government’s credibility as the people  would not link the Klang explosion with the Al-Ma’unah arms heists if they had full trust in the government’s earlier claim that all the weapons stolen by the Al-Ma’unah gang in the Grik arms heists had been recovered.

The sudden revelation by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his special television interview on Wednesday that several members of the  Al-Ma’unah gang, one armed with an M16 assault rifle equipped with a grenade launcher, attacked a brewery and a temple after the arms heists in Grik has only aggravated the government’s credibility gap because of its  selective and even tendentious manner in doling out information to suit narrow partisan rather than wider national interests.

Malaysians are now told that the Carlsberg brewery in Shah Alam was attacked twice with a grenade launcher on July 3, a day after the Grik arms heists, at about 4 a.m. while  two grenades were launched at the Batu Caves Hindu temple complex on July 9 at about 2 a.m.  However all these grenades did no damage, as according to  Mahathir in the television interview, "nothing happened" as  "they did not know how to use the weapon effectively".

In the television interview, Mahathir said that the "group of between three to five people" who carried a M16 rocket launcher out of Sauk have all been caught and the weapon seized in Sungai Petani.

Even this part of Mahathir’s interview raised many queries.

Firstly, if all the members of the group which took the M16 rocket launcher from Sauk to Kuala Lumpur "to spark unrest by attacking a particular place that would cause suspicion whether our country is really safe"  had been arrested and the M16 grenade launcher recovered, then Mahathir should not be talking about "a group of between three to five people" but the actual number of people in the group, whether three, four or five - as this specific information would be within the knowledge of the police.

Secondly, mass media reports of 10th and 11th July, 2000 gave the following news:

Many  questions arise, including the following:

  1. how did "the man believed to be the last of the group of 15 who raided the army camps in Perak" in the mass media  of July 11 became "a group between three to five people" in Mahathir’s interview on July 19?
  2. Was the M16-203 rocket that was recovered from Sungai Petani the weapon that was used to launch grenades at the Carlsberg brewery in Shah Alam on July 3 and the Batu Caves Hindu Temple complex on July 9?  The latter would appear improbable as the person who took the police to recover the M16-203 in Sungai Petani on July 9 was already arrested in Kuala Selangor  on July 8.
  3. Could there be another M16-203 which was used to launch two grenades at the temple on July 9 be another weapon and which is still at large?  This does not square with the claim by the authorities that they have recovered all the 119 weapons taken from the two Grik camps.

Yesterday, after the UMNO Supreme Council meeting, Mahathir again tried to give more explanation and information about the Al-Ma’unah arms heists, which is most improper as information about the Al-Ma’unah arms heists should be given out impartially by the government and not doled out in the context and perspective of a political tussle between UMNO and PAS - which immediately raises questions about their credibility.

If the government does not want Parliament to debate the Al-Ma’unah arms heists until the White Paper had been made public, then UMNO and other members of the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition should set an example by not prejudging what is going to be in the White Paper with their  own version of the Al-Mau’nah arms heists.

The best solution is for the White Paper to be completed and made public without any more delay, while all political leaders, including the UMNO President and Ministers, should withhold from making any comments on the Al-Ma’unah arms heists until the release of the White Paper. Otherwise, the White Paper on the Al-Ma’unah arms heists would lose all credibility when it is eventually published.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman