He said that the government will take steps to address the problems faced by squatters nationwide, which are necessary as poor people who lived in such settlements were often easily stirred to violence as happened in the recent clashes among residents in Kampung Medan and other settlements off Jalan Klang Lama in Petaling Jaya.
He said: "We know that this happened in an area where people are very poor, and poor people are often stirred to violence."
I am very relieved by Mahathir’s latest comments which are a far-cry from his most irresponsible statements on the Taman Medan clashes when he visited Pahang last Friday, when he indulged in unadulterated rumour-mongering and poltiicising of the tragic clashes which had left six dead, 44 injured and more than 220 arrested.
Changing the government stance in the first six days of the clashes
that the clashes were not racial but minor disputes blown out of proportion
by rumours, aggravated by depresed socio-economic factors and that
they had not threatened national security, government leaders suddenly
changed tack and started insinuating that "the clashes could have been
planned by certain
quarters out to create chaos in the country”.
Mahathir set the worst example in rumour-mongering and politicising the tragic clashes during his one-day visit to Pahang last Friday when he said that there was a political agenda behind the clashes and insinuated that they were linked to Parti Keadilan Nasional youth leader, Mohd Ezam Mohd Noor in connection with his alleged intention to launch street demonstrations to topple the government.
Even worse, he told about rumours that hundreds of Malays were killed which were played up "by certain groups whose background was unknown" to arouse the anger of Malays, and similar rumours among the Indians - the first time any Malaysian had heard that there were rumours during the clashes that hundreds of Malays and Indians were being killed!
He also made the most gratuitous attack on the opposition for "now focusing attention on poor citizens by instigating them to protest against the government". His allegation that "focusing on squatter areas and sympathising with them (squatters) by visiting the sick and injured in the hospital" was a "ploy by the opposition to gain political mileage without any humanitarian consideration for others” and his comment that the opposition are “so anxious now to show sympathy for the so-called poor....as if there are a lot of poor people" are all in really bad taste.
The clashes in Petaling Jaya Selatan must be regarded as a national tragedy as it represented the quadruple failures in nation-building, development planning, law enforcement and mass communications in the country, calling for the united efforts by all quarters - the government, the opposition and the civil society - to adopt a holistic approach to restore inter-communal peace, harmony and goodwill and address their deep-seated socio-economic causes.
The DAP and Barisan Alternative will fully support Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional government, not to go finger-pointing or witch-hunting, but to re-establish the basis for a civil society for all Malaysians in the urban ghettos by transforming them into a modern township with all the basic infrastructures and amenities during the next five years under the Eighth Malaysia Plan.
It is a matter of grave concern that although there has been no recurrence of the blackest three days of the clashes from March 8 -10, 2001, there continued to be sporadic incidents like the six new attacks in the past two days, which have “saddened” the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Abdullah said the government has no plans to impose a curfew which will inconvenience the people. I agree with Abdullah, although a curfew could have been one of the options during the darkest three days of the clashes from March 8-10, 2001.
However, in view of the sporadic incidents which undermines public confidence, national stability and Malaysia’s international competitiveness, the government must spare no resources to ensure an incident-free situation to the troubled settlements and adjacent areas, especially in the next three days.
It is most unfortunate that the first week of Parliament failed to send
out the clear message of the highest government and parliamentary concern
about the Taman Medan clashes, causes and solutions as there was not only
no special debate or Ministerial statement, but efforts by MPs like
DAP MP for Seputeh, Teresa Kok, Barisan Nasional MP for Tambun Datuk Husni
Hanadzlah and the Opposition leader Fadzil Noor (Pendang) to highlight
the Kampung Medan clashes were
There was not even a single Cabinet Minister in Parliament during the first working day of Parliament after question hour to receive the Memorandum of 51 NGOs on Kampong Medan clashes.
When Parliament resumes on Tuesday, it should make amends and schedule a special and urgent debate on the Kampong Medan clashes, causes and solutions.
Finally, to ensure that all quarters concerned, the government, the opposition and the civil society, can come together to adopt an united and holistic approach to address the Kampong Medan clashes, causes and solutions, the police should drop all investigations against Barisan Alternative leaders for the joint statement on the clashes, which were made in good faith for the best interests of the residents in the troubled areas and the country at large.