Call on Mahathir to declare the worst ethnic clashes in the last 32 years as a national tragedy and disaster and the urgent  convening of all-party goodwill committee to prevent its spread to other areas

Media statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): With the rise of the death toll from the ethnic clashes at the several housing settlements off Jalan Old Klang in Petaling Jaya to five in four days, and its likely further increase as four of the 37 injured are in serious condition, and with incidents from outside the area beginning to be reported, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir should declare the worst ethnic clashes in Malaysia in the last 32 years as a national tragedy and disaster.

He should urgently convene an all-party goodwill committee at national and state levels to prevent the spread of the ethnic tensions in the housing settlements off Jalan Old Klang to other areas and states.  It is because of the gravity and urgency of this matter that I am issuing a second media statement on the same subject today.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Mohamed Jamil Johari told a media conference this morning that as of 8 am today, the police have  arrested 153 people, out of whom 95 were Malays, 56 Indians and two Indonesians. Of the 37 people who were injured in the clashes, four of whom were in serious condition, 34 were Indians and three Malays.

What is cause for  great alarm is that three of the victims slashed in separate incidents yesterday and early today  were outside the troubled settlements in Petaling Jaya, namely in Jalan Gasing at 8.45 am, Kelana Jaya at 11.15 am and Sungai Way at 1.45 am.  Jamil believed that these three incidents were connected to the clashes in the past four days. There have also been unofficial reports of other incidents in the state, like Bandar Sunway and Puchong.

Among the 96 weapons seized by the police so far were eight home-made bombs, parangs, knives, samurai swords, catapults, chains, steel pipes, batons and axes.

Jamil said  16 vehicles were destroyed or damaged in the clashes including a lorry and two motorcycles which were burned. During the clashes, several cars had their windscreens smashed, two vans were damaged and one bus was partly burnt.

Jamil  said a total of 692 personnel from the police, Rela and St John's Ambulance were involved in maintaining peace and security in the troubled settlements.

It is most disappointing that the police had not sent greater reinforcements to restore and maintain peace, calm and security for everyone in the troubled settlements, as evident by the rise in the number of deaths, injured, clashes and arrests every day since the major clashes on Thursday night.

I am particularly disappointed as the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu had told me last night when I spoke to him on the phone that the police were sending one thousand policemen to the troubled settlements. Now, it would appear that the actual number of police personnel deployed there is hardly half the figure given by Samy.

Samy also told me last night that the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would be visiting the troubled settlements off Jalan Old Klang.

Up to now, I have not received any news that Abdullah would be visiting the troubled settlements today  and assert authority to immediately restore peace, calm and security for everyone in Selangor.

When will the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister visited the troubled settlements to show the highest government concern over the worst ethnic clashes in the country for the past 32 years?


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman