By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Parliament House on Monday, 19.10.1987:
Malaysia is teetering on the edge of a racial volcano and all political leaders must stop incitement of racial hatred and ill will to prevent an explosion which must occur if the present trend is not stopped.
Firstly, I commend the Deputy Home Minister, Megat Junid Megat Ayob, for making a Ministerial statement setting out all available facts with regard to the Chow Kit shooting spree, which killed one and wounded two, and the manhunt for the culprit which is still in progress.
This is as it should be, for when Parliament is in session, the Minister or Deputy Minister responsible should make an immediate report for any grave matter of public importance which has occurred to MPs, as it is the highest elective chamber in the land.
However, I must fault the police authorities, not for its swift action in launching the man-hunt, but for its disastrous public relations which allowed the Federal capital and even the whole country to be plunged into a panic that racial riots had broken out in Kuala Lumpur.
As a result, many workers did not report for duty and students were kept at home by parents, and traffic in Kuala Lumpur, particular near the affected Chow Kit area, was much lighter than usual.
The entire telephone system in Kuala Lumpur was jammed for the first few hours, while everyone tried to make frantic calls to each other to find out what actually happened, while rumours of all sorts of atrocious things spread around.
The police authorities should have used the radio to set out the basic facts of the Chow Kit incident, or have the Deputy Home Minister announce the basic facts over radio, leaving the fuller facts for the Ministerial statement in Parliament. This would have prevented the near panic the whole morning, which was only defused when the afternoon newspaper, Malay Mail, came out with the basic facts of the incident.
This should not happen again in future, and shows that the government has still many areas to improve in crisis-management. For instance, I understand that the KLSE Industrial Index fell by 45 points at 12.30 p.m., which is a near record fall, with some stocks falling by $1; while average falls were from 20 cents to 50 cents. Earlier before 12.30 p.m., the fall was worse.
The government should take a deep look as to why a criminal incident would set off a 12-hour panic in the Federal capital and country that another May 13 had started.
There is no doubt that after the UMNO Youth rally on Saturday and the UMNO Divisional representatives meeting at Putra World Trade Centre on Sunday, where the most extremist and seditious speeches were made, the most extremist and seditious slogans and banners displayed (some even calling for the killing of individuals or the removing of citizenship of the Chinese), and where Chinese Malaysian reporters and photographers had to leave the venue of the two meetings as the police could not guarantee their personal safety and security (in yesterday’s UMNO meeting, eight Chinese Malaysian newspaper were pelted with mud and other objects and had to leave in fear of their personal safety). Racial nerves have been rubbered very dangerously raw.
The 12-hour panic in the Federal capital and country that another May 13 had started, in fact, gave all Malaysians who love this country a warning of the disaster that will befall the country and the people if the present racial trend continue unchecked.
Malaysia is teetering on the edge of a racial volcano and all political leaders must stop incitment of racial hatred and illwill to prevent an explosion which must occur of the present trend, as seen by the UMNO Youth rally on Saturday and the UMNO Divisional leaders’ meeting yesterday, is not stopped.
Let sanity prevail and return to the Malaysian body politic, and let all political party leader stop stoking the ethnic volcano.