Star (7.7.00) reported on the following account of
the final encounter, according to Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun
"Najib said Amin had wanted the army chief to go over personally but the authorities refused, saying that Zaini was in charge of the field.
"While Zaini was talking to Amin, he tried to shoot him with his M20 gun, said Najib, adding that the shot however was deflected and hit one of the gang members instead.
"’Zaini overpowered Amin and the army team moved in before the other gang members, armed with guns and parangs could retaliate, forcing them to surrender,’ he said.
"Najib commended Zaini’s courage and his willingness to risk his life to end the stand-off.
"He said Amin’s probable motive in resisting surrender was to ‘take-out’ a general before he went down."
This was Zaini’s own account as reported in the Star of the same date:
"Amin initially demanded that the gang member be allowed to go free and stay at the Bukit Jenalik secondary jungle.
"’It was impossible to meet that demand. After persuading him for some time, he knew that I was trying to bring him down. So he was always ready to shoot me. I could’nt do anything.. I didn’t bring any weapon to convince him.’
"’When the time came that we felt that we don’t want to prolong the negotiations, and with the people who were supposed to act all ready, I pretended to scold him, saying that what he was struggling for was not good,’ said Zaini.
"And he knew that the time had almost come when Amin grabbed his (Zaini’s) neck with his left hand and pulled his body towards the muzzle of the rifle.
"’I knew (I would be shot)…I brushed aside the weapon and pointed it towards his men…the shot hit one of his men,’ said Zaini.
"He said about 15 gang members were also ready with their guns and parangs at the time, all set to fight with members of the security forces who accompanied him to the hideout.
"’Amin was the gang’s chief schemer, group members won’t come down until he orders. After I grabbed him, my other members quickly prevented the thieves from acting,’ he said."
This is another account by Zaini the next day, as reported by the New
Straits Times of 8th July 2000:
"In the incident, the general had coolly walked up to the gang leader to persuade the group to surrender peacefully. Ignoring the warrior’s code, gang leader Amin Mohd Razali aimed his M16 with a grenade-launcher attached, at the unarmed general.
"Zaini sustained slight injuries to his left hand. Despite the close shave, Zaini insisted his brave act was just ‘a duty and responsibility’."
However, this army account of Zaini single-handedly entering the lion’s den and risking his life to force the surrender of the Al-Ma’unah leader and gang is not consistent with the police account as given by the Chief police negotiator in the Sauk hostage-standoff, Senior Asst Comm. II Abdul Hadi Mahmud in the Star of 16th July 2000.
After explaining how he had for two days used pleas and cries of the
wives and children of the armed men, as well as P.Ramlee’s songs, to
"work up" and "wear out" the Al-Ma’unah members holed up in Bukit Jenalik,
this was his account of the final encounter:
"’Sensing an end was in sight, I asked my colleagues to continue negotiating. By 3 p.m., another six surrendered,’ he said.
"SAC Abdul Hadi said it was then that he and Lt. Gen Zaini Said decided to go to Mohd Amin’s camp in an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) escorted by commandos in full assault gear, including bullet proof vests.
"As they were approaching the hide-out he got word that the security forces comprising police SOF (special operations force) members and several commandos from the army had already occupied the camp.
"As I came out of the APC, I saw one of my officers from the SOF standing next to Mohd Amin. He told me they had ‘neutralised’ Mohd Amin and his men who wanted to surrender.
"’I noticed all the Al-Ma’unah members had already laid down their arms and were being watched over by our SOF and commandos from the army, except for Mohd. Amin who clung to his M-16.
"’The SOF officer whispered to me to be careful of Mohd Amin who was not very stable.’
"SAC Abdul Hadi then headed towards Mohd Amin and greeted him with Assalammualaikum before advising him to lay down his arms.
"He then noticed that the barrel of Mohd Amin’s gun was pointed towards Lt. Gen Zaini.
"’Lt. Gen Zaini told Mohd Amin that in his 32 years in the army no one had ever pointed a gun at him.
"’He lifted his shirt to show Mohd Amin that he was not armed before walking away towards a parked Pajero nearby.
"’I then realised that the barrel of Mohd Amin’s gun was now pointed towards me.
"’I slowly walked sideways and continued to appeal to him to surrender and return the stolen weapons.’
"When Lt. Gen Zaini returned several minutes later, Mohd Amin walked towards Ltd. Gen Zaini, raised his left hand and grabbed Lt. Gen Zaini’s collar.
"An exchange of words occurred, and Lt. Gen Zaini pushed the barrel of the gun away from him and a shot rang out.
"’Suddenly there was a cry of Allahuakbar and I saw one of Mohd Amin’s men on the ground writhing in pain as he had been hit on the shoulder by the stray bullet,’ SAC Abdul Hadi said.
"’Mohd Amin and Lt. Gen Zaini fell to the ground after that, and at least two commandos went to apprehend Mohd. Amin.’ he said."
From Abdul Hadi’s account, the following facts emerge:
Malaysians are entitled to know which account is true, whether it is the army or the police one with regard to the final encounter with Amin in the Al-Ma’unah arms heists an hostage killings.
If the police account is the correct account, the Abdul Hadi deserves as much commendation as Zaini, including the police and army personnel who risked their lives in the Bukit Jenalik hostage stand-off.
I call on the authorities to immediately reconcile the conflicting police and army accounts of the final encounter between Al-Ma’unah leader and army general Zaini and police chief negotiator Abdul Hadi even before the publication of the White Paper, as the government failure or inability to produce a consistent version can only further aggravate its grave crisis of credibility gap.