The RTV screening of police video of Kampong Memali Incident reinforces the need for an Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Tragedy

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, January 4, 1986:

The RTV screening of police video of Kampong Memali Incident reinforces the need for an Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Tragedy

The RTV screening of police video of Kampong Memali Incident, which presented the police account of the tragedy, has strengthened my belief that there must be an Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Tragedy.

Although the 30-minute video scrip had shocked Malaysians about the lengths ordinary people would go to when in a religious frenzy or hysteria, with women and children taking on the police calls to disperse or surrender, it had failed to answer two very important questions:

Firstly, whether there was no other way for the police to handle the situation without provoking the loss of 18 lives; and

Secondly, why the government authorities had allowed the situation to reach such a religious pitch and fervor for some 12 long months.

The introductory speech by the Information Minister, Datuk Rais Yatim, was clearly partisan, and in putting the blame squarely on the PAS leadership, would only turn the Kampong Memali Incident into a ‘political football’ with UMNO and PAS accusing each other for the tragedy.

The Kampong Memali Incident is not a UMNO problem, or PAS problem, but a problem of all Malaysians woho do not want any recurrence of Kampong Memali Incidents in the future. This is why it is important that the country investigate not only into what happened in Kampong Memali on 15 Nov, but why it happened.

Datuk Rais Yatim said the tragedy had its roots in a year-long warrant of arrest for Ibrahim Libya for criminal charges. The Information Minister said that the ‘patience’ showed by police in choosing not to execute the warrant for fear of bloodshed had embolded Ibrahim’s followers.

This is the first time a top government Minister had admitted that the year-long warrant of arrest had not been executed on Ibrahim Libya for fear of blood shed. If this is the case, when the police mounted an operation on Nov 19 to arrest Ibrahim Libya, the police authorities should have expected the even greater likehood of bloodshed, as the year-long inaction would emboldened Ibrahim’s followers.

The police authorities should have worked out a contingency plan whereby Ibrahim Libya could be arrested without having a confrontation with innocent villagers. Clearly, there was something seriously amiss in the police information, planning and execution of its Nov 19 operation to arrest Ibrahim Libya.

From the video scrip, it is clear that the Kampong Memali villagers were in such a religious frenzy that any frontal assault must lead to loss of lives. Surely, there are other ways to achieve the police objectives without causing a toll of police and ckvilian lives.

Malaysians will remember of the other incident where police attempt to take into lawful custody a political leader was resisted and challenges by hundreds of his supporters.

This was the case of Datuk Harun Idris, former Menteri Besar of Selangor and UMNO Youth Leader, after his appeals against criminal convictions for corruption charges were exhausted, and he was to be taken into custody to begin to serve his jail sentence.

If the police had mounted assaults on the hundreds of youths who surrounded the house of Datuk Harun to resist police execution of their warrant, there would have been bloodshed. The police wisely at that time avoided a path of confrontation, and Tunku Abdul Rahman intervened to persuade Datuk Harun to peacefully surrender himself.

The same approach could have been used, where PAS leaders approached to persuade Ibrahim Libya to give himself up to the law. Why was this approach not considered or tried?

Both Datuk Musa Hitam and Datuk Rais Yatim had failed to explain why the warrant of arrest was issued against Ibrahim Libya a year ago. Datuk Rais Yatim said Ibrahim Libya was wanted for various criminal charges of obstructing the police and possessing offensive weapons. I am confused whether these charges were made against him after the Oct. 20 incident, where the Baling OCPD and policemen were detained and subsequently released in exchange for the return of seized weapons, or as far back as one year ago.

The Kampong Memali Incident is not a Muslim or Malay problem. It is not an UMNO or Pas problem. It is Malaysian problem, and must be dealt with on a non-partisan Malaysian basis. As the Government’s version would inevitably be regarded as a biased UMNO version, the DAP calls for an Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Kampong Memali Incident, to find out the causes as to why children and women could be worked into a frenzy in support of Ibrahim Libya, whether UMNO’s discriminatory policies against PAS supporters could have been an contributing factor, to independently report on the course of events on Nov. 19, and make recommendations as to prevent recurrence of the Kampong Memali Tragedy.

Lim Kit Siang to meet Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed early next week on the BMF scandal final report

I expect to meet the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, early next week on the Ahmad Nordin BMF Inquiry Committee final report, as I am very concerned at the month-long delay for the Cabinet to discuss and decide in its publication.

The Government must speak with a clear voice as to its intentions on the BMF final report, instead of a babel of voices from different Ministers and top government officials, some for the government’s release, another qualifying it by wanting the Inquiry Committee to release it, while others opposing its publication altogether.

The 2M Government’s reputation as an administration committed to the eradication of corruption, abuse of power and misuse of funds, and the upholding of the principle of public accountability, would suffer irreparable damage if the cabinet continues to drag its feet to make public the Ahmad Nordin BMF final report.