September 29, 2011
Memali: A Policeman Remembers
by Din Merican
I have just returned from the Royal Lake Club, Kuala Lumpur where I was at a Book Launch. I was given the honour to emcee the occasion.
Memali: A Policeman Remembers is written by YM Tunku Muszaffar Shah, who was the OCPD Baling. Kedah from 1981-1986. Tunku Zain Al-Abidin, the founder of Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS),launched Memali the book.
Tunku Muszaffar’s book is a first hand account of a tragedy that continues to this day to haunt the conscience of law abiding and peace loving citizens. It promises to be a good read.
Why did the Police enter the village without firearms even when Bukit Aman was told by local intelligence personnel that the villagers were armed with machette and parangs and were willing to die to protect the leader, Ustaz Ibrahim Mahmood aka Ibrahim Libya?
Why were Policemen being asked to subject themselves to stupid risks. Why did the top brass in Bukit Aman ignore local intelligence? Why was the arresting party instructed to withdraw if the villagers resisted? In the ensuing encounter on November 19, 1985, what went wrong? 18 Malaysians were killed including Ibrahim Libya who had been using the Islamic cause as a front to help a group of politicians to seize power. This book attempts to answer these questions and more.
One, it was common knowledge then and now that (Tun) Musa Hitam was the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs responsible for internal security and public order. His order to avoid any spilling of blood but why was the order ignored by those “bemedalled armchair warriors” in Bukit Aman (Tunku Aziz)?
Yes, why? Tan Sri Amin Osman, then the Acting Inspector General of Police, should answer this question. According to Tunku Aziz:
“[T]he Royal Malaysian Police leadership must live up to the core principle of policing, and that is to protect life and property. It must not allow itself to be used as a political tool and thereby prostitute and compromise its tradition values of service in the public interest…The Memali incident is a good example of what could go wrong when the Police allow themselves to take operational orders from politicians. Policing and politics somehow do not mix well. They make stranger bedfellows.”(p.157)
Two, where was (Tun) Dr. Mahathir, a Kedahan admired by his country folks, when the Memali tragedy happened. I thought he was abroad visiting some country , perhaps on a study mission. Wrong. According to Tunku Aziz:
“… Musa Hitam had to carry the blame for the massacre at Memali. Mahathir, who once berated Israel for fighting its wars by proxy, was himself not averse to letting others do the dirty work for him. Mahathir the maverick is well known for his disappearing acts whenever an unpopular decision had to be implemented.
On this particular occasion, it was put about at his behest that he was not in the country. He was in the country and was apprised of developments by Musa Hitam and Mohamad Amin. Both pleaded with him not to leave on his official visit to China as the security and public order situation in Memali was looking decidedly dicey and dangerous.He was reminded by Musa that Kedah was, after all, his home state. Mahathir insisted that he had to go because the Chinese had made arrangements to receive him. So much for his sense of his public duty. When it came to getting out of a sticky situation, he knew all the dodges.”(p.156)
After 26 years it is timely to reflect on Memali and come out with an unbiased account of the tragedy. The ball is in the government’s court.
September 29, 2011
OCPD:Bukit Aman made poor decisions in Memali
by Andrew Ong@http://www.malaysiakini.com
Sep 29, 11
“The discretion and action of the police as to how they would go about doing their duty should be according to prevailing ground situations,” he wrote.
Musa Hitam’s Order
At the time, the Police were under the charge of Musa Hitam in his capacity as Home Minister. Dr Mahathir Mohamad was then the Prime Minister during the incident.
According to the White Paper tabled in Parliament in February 1986, the government justified attempts to arrest Ibrahim under the ISA by accusing him of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Movement which aims to topple the federal government by force.
Although Muszaffar did not document any examples of political interference, he did note that Musa had issued specific orders during the first botched arrest attempt on September 2, 1984.
In the book, Muszaffar said Musa had ordered Bukit Aman to ensure that the arresting party did not use force when arresting Ibrahim and withdraw should they encounter resistence.
Led by the district special branch chief, the arresting party went to Ibrahim’s home in Kampung Charok Puteh at 2.45am on that day, but withdrew after they were met by about a dozen people armed with sharpened bamboo poles and other weapons.
According to then Ibrahim follower Muhamad Yusof Husin’s account of the incident, which forms a chapter of the book, the botched first arrest attempt led to followers deciding to guard him from arrest.
Educating future commanders
Muszaffar also criticised then Bukit Aman leaders, including the then-acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), who was not named, for underestimating the resistance which Ibrahim’s supporters would put up.
Attempts by a large police delegation to arrest Ibrahim at his home in November 1985 saw supporters attacking the police with firearms and sharp weapons, before the charismatic preacher was killed.
In the book, he described such superior officers as “armchair generals” who saw it fit to arrest Ibrahim at his bastion, knowing that his supporters were waiting and some of them had shotgun licences.
Speaking to reporters after the book launch at the Lake Club in Kuala Lumpur, Muszaffar said that his first-person account of the incident was an attempt to educate future police officers. He stressed that his account does not contradict the White Paper, which was also reproduced in full in his book.
“My book might upset some people but my purpose is to educate the young police commanders not to repeat the mistakes,” he said.
He said that he began the book project in 2009 after being heavily persuaded by his elder brother Tunku Aziz, who is the former vice-chairperson of Transparency International and now DAP vice-chairperson.