In my very first statement on the Taman Medan clashes on Sunday, March
11, 2001 - when I had visited the tragic victims of the clashes admitted
as patients in the University Malaya Medical Council - I had called
for an independent commission of inquiry into the causes of the clashes
because these quadruple failures must be identified and analysed to become
lessons for all policy makers and implementors to ensure no recurrence of such clashes in Taman Medan or other parts of the country.
The establishment of an independent commission of inquiry is not to find faults or point fingers of blame, but to establish where the country has gone wrong after 43 years of nation-building and development planning, how the police could be more pro-active in future by taking effective pre-emptive measures to defuse escalating social and ethnic tensions and equally important, why the communications policy had failed so dismally that rumours supplanted the electronic and printed media as being more believable by the people.
As it is more important to focus on the basic causes of the clashes, I had right from the beginning urged the government to eliminate the ghetto conditions in Taman Medan and the surrounding human settlements by putting in place an immediate RM100 million socio-economic plan to transform the squatter settlements off Old Klang Road, Petaling Jaya with some 30,000 squatters into a modern township as the most effective means of wiping out the urban squalor and rampant crime in the area.
Federal and State Government announcements in the past few days of housing programmes and social and development plans to provide better facilities and amenities in the wake of the clashes are welcome, but they are likely to be forgotten when national attention now rivetted on the area fades with the passage of time because of preoccupation with new problems and the latest nation-building crisis.
For this reason, DAP calls for a Masterplan to transform the urban ghetto conditions in the various housing settlements off Old Klang Road, Petaling Jaya into a modern township to be a new highlight in the Eighth Malaysia Plan to be approved by Parliament next month so that there would be regular and constant monitoring of its progress.
This should be the top agenda for the government and the nation in the aftermath of the clashes in Taman Medan and the adjacent housing settlements.
It would be very unfortunate if the authorities lose sight of the most
pressing issues, to address the quadruple failures in nation-building,
development planning, law enforcement and mass communications and to incorporate
a Master Plan to transform the urban ghettos off Old Klang Road into a
modern township in the Eighth Malaysia Plan and are more interested
in victimising and persecuting opposition leaders as in the police report on sedition against the Barisan Alternative leaders for their joint media statement on the clashes.
The Barisan Nasional government should accept the offer of co-operation
extended by the Barisan Alternative leaders to address the quadruple failures
of nation-building, development planning, law enforcement and mass communications
highlighted by the clashes and make a success of the Master Plan in the
Eighth Malaysia Plan to transform the urban ghettos into a
modern township instead of creating further antagonisms and divisions between the Barisan Nasional and the Barisan Alternative.