With new attacks, Mahathir should visit Petaling Selatan to  spur urgent  high-powered government action to adopt a holistic approach to restore communal peace,  harmony and goodwill

Media  Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Four incidents of new attacks targetted at Indians in the Petaling Selatan area should spur urgent high-powered government action to adopt a holistic approach to restore inter-communal peace, harmony and goodwill in Petaling Selatan after it was the recent scene of the worst clashes in the country in 32 years.

Although there is no recurrence of  the blackest  three days of the clashes from March 8 -10, 2001, sporadic incidents like the four attacks yesterday are sombre reminders that not enough had been done by the authorities to fully quell the after-spill effects of the clashes and  to deal with the raw wounds caused by the clashes.

There is even danger that the whole episode is being downgraded in government consciousness and priority, as illustrated by the lack of any Ministerial response to the latest incidents - as if there is a deliberate intention to reduce them to a police problem with the Selangor state police chief Nik Ismail Nik Yusuf accusing “certain people who want this (violence)  to drag on and to create instability in the country", and speculating on  the attackers' identity as to whether they were locals or foreigners.

Instead of taking the worst clashes in the past 32 years which occured in Petaling Selatan  as a wake-up call, as they represented the quadruple failures in nation-building, development planning, law enforcement and mass communications in the country, the highest government authorities seem to want to sweep the socio-economic and nation-building factors of the clashes under the carpet.

The government has failed to convey the message that it is serious and capable of sustaining  a socio-economic and law-and-order infrastructure which will establish inter-communal harmony, peace and goodwill in the affected areas.

It is heartening that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad visited the victims of the Taman Medan clashes at the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre last Sunday although there can be no good reason why the Prime Minister only  made the visit after  more than a week from  the three blackest days of the clashes.

The refusal of the government to schedule a special debate in Parliament on the clashes does not send out the right message that the government is serious in wanting to  focus  and remove the socio-economic and law-and-order causes and problems leading to the clashes - as Malaysia is again in the international media like the CNN as a nation of ethnic clashes.

The government and the nation must regard every single renewed attack as one too many which undermines national stability and jeopardises Malaysia’s international reputation as a safe destination of investment.

In view of the renewed incidents, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad must lead a high-profile visit to the troubled areas - which he has yet tio visit after the three black day of the clashes -  to galvanise and sustain the highest-level government efforts to heal the wounds and end the clashes in Petaling Selatan, as well as mobilising  the support of all Malaysians, regardless of party, race or religion in such a common endeavour.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman