Bernama reported "an utterly disappointed Zaini", "his voice choking with emotion", speaking to reporters after receiving students from the Armed Forces Defence College at the Army Field High Command in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, expressing his disgust over "continued claims by certain people that the Sauk incident was orchestrated by the government".
Zaini said: "They will insist my death was a drama because despite the shooting to death of commando Mathew anak Medan and police detective Sarjan R.Sagadevan and the gunshot wounds incurred by Sarjan Ukoon anak Pungkok, they still say it is play-acting."
Zaini said "such claims by certain groups with narrow political objectives had belittled the sacrifices of the security forces who had risked their lives throughout the Sauk incident" and "most disgusting and humiliating to the security forces whose achievements and devotion to duty had received world recognition".
Zaini's courage and leadership had received nation-wide recognition and commendation and the DAP had at the first available opportunity commended Zaini as well as the police and army for ending the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and hostage-standoff without loss of more lives.
It is unfortunate that Parliament was not allowed to debate the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and killings despite the attempts by the DAP MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw and the Chairman of the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers' Club, Dr. Jamaluddin Jarjis (Rompin) to adjourn the Dewan Rakyat for a debate on an urgent, definite, public importance as Parliament would then have the opportunity to specifically record the nation's appreciation for Zaini's bravery and example.
Zaini however should be mindful of the army's professional and non-partisan status and stay clear of the mine-field of the full-scale Barisan Nasional psy-war against Barisan Alternative over the Al-Ma'una arms heists and killings.
While Zaini's disgust, and that of the army, at the claim that the Sauk incident was orchestrated by the government was most understandable, army officers should be astute enough not to become a tool in a full-scale psy-war which the Barisan Nasional has launched against the Barisan Alternative, making full use of the mainstream mass media resources at their command
The armed forces must not end up as a political appendage of the Barisan Nasional in the Barisan Nasional psy-war against the Barisan Alternative by irresponsibily exploiting and politicising the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and killings.
Two days ago, the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai in an television interview, slammed allegations that the Sauk incident was government-staged as made with "ulterior motives" and disclosed that the police have received "one or two" reports on the allegations. He said the police are investigating and if there is enough evidence, it will refer it to the Attorney-General's Chambers on the action to be taken.
Zaini should leave the allegations to the police, especially as the Barisan Nasional is doing its utmost to use it as the centre-piece of its psy-war against the Barisan Alternative, with UMNO leaders going on a rampage making unproven allegations against PAS and the Gerakan President Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik as good as alleging at the Gerakan Perak annual delegates conference in Ipoh on Sunday that PAS was responsible for "extremist terrorist groups" like Al-Ma'unah.
Surely, Zaini does not want to create the impression that he agrees with the Barisan Nasional psy-war in blaming the PAS leaders and the entire PAS membership of some 400,000 members of being responsible for the Al-Ma'unah arms heists and killings - turning the arms forces into a propaganda department of the Barisan Nasional!
What Zaini should have done as a professional soldier is to ascertain the extent of such allegations, and if so, whether it reflect a serious credibility problem suffered by the government in general and the army in particular, and how this problem could be overcome in a rational manner away from the hysteria of a political psy-war.
While Malaysians appreciate what Zaini and the police and army have done in bringing the five-day hostage-standoff at Bukit Jenalik to an end without more loss of lives, army officers should respect the right of the people to demand full accountability as to how there could be such a shocking breakdown of military discipline and security procedures as to allow the arms heists of military armouries of vast arsenal of high-calibre weaponry in the two Grik army camps to take place as well as to know what actually happened at the Bukit Jenalik hostage standoff.
In his television interview, Norian Mai gave some account of the events of the last day of the Bukit Jenalik stand-off, that before Zaini entered the Al-Ma'una hideout where he confronted and overcame the Al-Ma'una leader, Mohamad Amin Mohd. Razali, police officers had already entered the hideout and were in contact with the Al-Ma'unah group.
This is Norian's account from the transcript of his television interview:
"Two hours before it ended, my officers were already in the hideout and talking to Amin (Mohamad Amin Mohd Razali) and the rest of the group. To me, they had succeeded in convincing Amin to lay down his arms and surrender or else the result would be worse.
"So, we were in the final stage when it was time for Datuk Zaini and his men to go in, and the police were represented by General Operations Force Northern Brigade Commander SAC II Abdul Hadi Mahmud. But the group had sustained injuries, that was why five came out, then six and finally the rest.
"Datuk Zaini went in with my blessings. This was because his presence (could speed up an end to the crisis) was on the request of the group's leader who wanted to meet Datuk Zaini."
The Malaysian public are entitled to know the identities of the police officers who had risked their lives to enter the hideout to talk to Amin and the Al-Ma'unah group to persuade them to surrender, for they also deserve public recognition and appreciation as that accorded to Zaini.