DAP calls for the reports of the Fire and Rescue Department, Police and the Chemistry Department in to the DTC fire to be tabled in Parliament tomorrow  and an end to  all attempts to politicise the fire and demonise student activists

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Sunday): The whole “public relations” (PR)  handling of the University of Malaya Dewan Tunku Chanselor (DTC) pre-dawn fire on June 29 is most deplorable and disgraceful, totally lacking in professionalism as the ulterior agenda of the PR exercise of the authorities  right from the very start was to politicise the fire to blame,  demonise and isolate  student activists by blaming them for the “arson”.

After media reports that a 33-page preliminary report of the Fire and Rescue Department which cited a short-circuit and overloading at the 35-year-old building  as the probable causes  for the DTC fire  had been submitted to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at last Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, considerable  PR energies were expended not to deny the finding that the probable cause of the fire was faulty wiring and not arson, but that the Fire and Rescue Department had ever revealed the details of the investigation to the media.

Malaysians are not concerned as to whether the Fire and Rescue Department had or had not revealed the details of the investigation into the DTC fire to the media, but whether it had made the finding that faulty wiring and not arson was the probable cause of the DTC fire!

Why can’t a government which claims to be open, accountable and transparent answer such a simple question instead of beating about the bush?

This was why national eye-brows were raised  when it was reported that despite the finding of the Fire and Rescue Department,  the police still required more time to complete their investigation into the DTC fire, making many wonder what investigation the   police was conducting -  to zero in on the  university personnel for their failure to  conduct regular fire safety  checks of DTC or  to disprove the Fire and Rescue  Department finding and establish that the DTC fire was the result of  arson by "militant" student activists, as first alleged by  various UMNO Ministers and leaders, to justify a  repressive crackdown against student activism in the university campuses in the country, including the use of the  Internal Security Act (ISA) against student leaders and further tightening of the draconian Universities and University Colleges Act?

Yesterday, Mahathir threw a little more light into the DTC fire and government handling of the blaze when he admitted that he had read the reports of the three agencies which had submitted their findings on the DTC fire - namely the Fire and Rescue Department, the police and the Chemistry Department.

Mahathir said three things, viz:

As the Prime Minister  had studied the investigation reports from the three agencies, the Fire and Rescue Department, the police and the Chemistry Department,  into the causes of the DTC fire, he should state which agency posited that arson was a probable cause of the blaze  and the evidence for such a finding.

Or did none of the three agencies posit arson as a probable cause of the DTC fire, and it was merely a possibility which the Prime Minister himself had not dismissed personally?

If it was Mahathir’s personal conclusion, not based on the investigations of anyone of the three agencies which had submitted their reports, then it is most irresponsible for the Prime Minister to declare so publicly without making clear it was strictly his personal view
Keeping alive the “arson” theory for the DTC fire, although without an iota evidence and not backed up by any of the three investigating agencies  - would be most  convenient politically if the game-plan is  to create a hot-bed atmosphere of the compuses having been taken over by “militant anti-government” student activists out to bring down the elected government by force and thus justifying a high-handed government crackdown against student dissent and activists in the universities.

DAP calls for the three investigation reports by the Fire and Rescue Department, the police and the Chemistry Department to be immediately made public so that Malaysians can judge for themselves the outcome of these investigations and whether the government had over-reacted in its crackdown against student activists, using the ISA against student leaders and threatening to tighten the screws against student activism further.

The DTC fire  should not be politicised any further by UMNO politicians using it  to blame, demonise  and isolate student activists who are not prepared to be recruited to become  UMNO cheerleaders and henchmen in the campuses.

The Prime Minister or the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa  Mohamad should make a ministerial statement when Parliament reconvenes tomorrow to table and make public  the  investigation reports of the Fire and Rescue Department, police and the Chemistry Department into the DTC fire and make a firm and categorical assurance that the government would stop politicising the DTC fire,   end all attempts to blame, demonise and isolate student activists and revoke all anti-student measures including the immediate and unconditional release under the ISA of Muhamad Fuad Mohd Ikhwan and  Khairul Anuar Ahmad Zainuddin.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman