A clash 32 years ago between Malaysian police and followers of the main Islamist party that killed 18 people in a remote village in Kedah is back in the spotlight, putting an uncomfortable glare on the role of then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
The deputy president of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, said the government should set up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) over the Kampung Memali incident, just like it did with the 1980s foreign exchange losses by the central bank.
“PAS urges the formation of an RCI to re-examine the Memali tragedy, to give justice to all parties and to clear the names of the innocent,” he said in a media statement yesterday.
The issue was spotlighted this week following a fracas on Sunday at a so-called Nothing 2 Hide forum in Selangor, featuring Tun Dr Mahathir, after he answered a question about the police siege of the Kedah village in 1985 and the deaths of 14 villagers. Four policemen were also killed in what is today dubbed the Memali Incident.
One of those killed was the group’s leader, Mr Ibrahim Mahmud, better known as Ibrahim Libya, who was also a PAS leader. He was declared a “martyr” by PAS.
The police had said the villagers blockaded the area from being cleared and were armed with parang (machetes). Dr Mahathir left the village siege to then Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam.
As Dr Mahathir was giving his reply to the Memali case at the forum, shoes and water bottles were thrown at him from the floor and two flares were lighted up. Chairs were also thrown around in the Selangor hall.
FOR THE SAKE OF JUSTICE
PAS urges the formation of an RCI to re-examine the Memali tragedy, to give justice to all parties and to clear the names of the innocent.
PAS DEPUTY PRESIDENT TUAN IBRAHIM TUAN MAN
If you come with machetes and kill police officers, then you must be willing to face retaliation by the police. The police have to defend themselves.
DR MAHATHIR MOHAMAD
Said PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang: “Everyone is pointing fingers, blaming the other party and forgetting that what sparked the chaos (at the forum) was the explanation of the Memali incident, which was not satisfactory.”
His statement was posted on Tuesday on the website of PAS organ Harakahdaily.
To Dr Mahathir’s supporters, the focus on the 1985 event is part of the Najib administration’s agenda to make voters turn away from the 92-year-old politician, who now leads the four-party Pakatan Harapan opposition alliance.
Opposition party PAS has been working with its former enemy, Prime Minister Najib Razak, to weaken Harapan.
The former premier is already being investigated by a royal commission that was set up recently to look into billions of dollars in losses in the 1980s by Bank Negara when it used Malaysia’s currency reserves to play in the forex market.
The combative Dr Mahathir has said he will not be cowed by the forex probe or the forum fracas.
Yesterday, he was featured in a video put up on his party’s website, giving his view on what happened at the village that day.
His answer to why over a dozen villagers were killed: “If you come with machetes and kill police officers, then you must be willing to face retaliation by the police. The police have to defend themselves.”
Source : Straits Times
RCI into Memali if Pakatan takes Putrajaya
Incumbent Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad has promised a royal commission of inquiry into the 1985 tragedy of Memali if Pakatan Harapan (PH) wins federal power.
The Parti Amanah Negara representative said the rest of the four-party pact also disagreed with the official narrative of the deaths of 14 civilians and four policemen that has been touted as a black mark on the country’s history.
“We disagree with what happened in Memali. We thought that was an excessive use of, clearly a very, very excessive use of force. We have told Mahathir about this, in closed door meetings and publicly,” he told Malay Mail in an interview yesterday.
Khalid said he was serious about investigating the 33 year-old incident, saying Malaysians have a right to know what actually happened in Memali.
He promised that a PH government will also address other issues that have been swept under the carpet by past administrations.
“We are very confident that all previous cases not just the issue of Memali will be investigated and whatever that was not right will be made right. At least historically, we can put the issue to rest that this was something that should not have happened and could have been avoided,” he said.
According to official records, the Memali incident started in November 1985 when a police force of 200 officers went to arrest a Muslim sect founded by Ibrahim Mahmud @ Ibrahim Libya, was also a PAS leader, who had holed himself in a village of the same name in Baling, Kedah.
The siege ended in a shootout with 18 fatalities.
The case made headlines in recent years when Tun Musa Hitam, the then deputy prime minister and home minister, asserted in 2014 that Dr Mahathir had yet to depart for China as alleged.
Dr Mahathir had been reported to have passed all responsibility to Musa who resigned from the government in 1988.
Last August, Dr Mahathir said that the Memali tragedy would not have happened if religious leaders did not promise heaven to their followers for killing people.
PAS had previously also called for an RCI to investigate the incident, as it involved the deaths of its followers.
Source : Malay Mail
Musa said in Kota Bharu that Mahathir was in Kuala Lumpur when the bloodshed took place
FORMER Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Tun Musa Hitam laid bare one of the nation’s longest-kept secrets when he revealed that the then Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was in Malaysia during the bloody Memali incident on Nov. 19, 1985 when police forces killed Ibrahim Libya and his followers in a clash which resulted in 18 casualties, including four policemen.
Musa’s revelation at a public discussion organised by Kelantan State Government held in Kota Bharu three nights ago came as a shocker as close to three decades, it was reported and believed that Musa took charge of the operations as Home Minister in 1985 because Mahathir was in China for a visit.
However, Musa said in Kota Bharu that Mahathir was in Kuala Lumpur when the bloodshed took place, adding: “In fact, two three days after that he was still in KL.”
In his response, Mahathir said he could not remember if he was in the country during the Memali incident and that he would have to check into his records to verify if Musa’s claim was true.
It is just incredulous and completely unbelievable that a person credited with an elephantine memory could not remember such an important detail in an incident, which together with two other incidents, must rank as his three “blackest and darkest” episodes in his 22-year premiership, especially as the Memali tragedy claimed 18 lives, which included four policemen.
The second “blackest and darkest” episode of the 22-year Mahathir regime was the infamous Operation Lalang in 1987 where 108 persons were detained under the draconian detention-without-trial Internal Security Act for him to consolidate his political control and power in government, Umno and Barisan Nasional.
Strangely enough, in an exclusive interview with Nanyang Siang Pao in February this year, Mahathir denied responsibility for Operation Lalang and made the preposterous claim that at the time of Ops Lalang, he was in China and the Home Minister was one “Musa”.
As I immediately pointed out in response, Mahathir was talking “rubbish” and was again guilty of selective amnesia as Mahathir was not only not in China, but was categorically in the country during the Operation Lalang dragnet and he was definitely the Home Minister at the time. Musa was the first Home Minister in Mahathir’s premiership, serving from 1981-1986, until he broke ranks with Mahathir resigning as Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister.
Again strangely enough, Mahathir’s “selective amnesia” was also displayed conspicuously in his third “blackest and darkest” episode under his premiership – his single-handed destruction of the professionalism, independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary starting with the first judicial crisis in the country with his arbitrary and unconstitutional sacking of the then Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court judges, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh and Datuk George Seah in 1998.
Malaysians will never forget the sorry spectacle of the former Prime Minister appearing before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam VideoTape scandal in January 2008 virtually pleading “selective amnesia” when he had to say “I cannot remember” or its equivalent 14 times during his 90-minute testimony about incidents related to the fixing of judicial appointments.
For the past 29 years, Mahathir had absolved himself of the deaths of 18 people, including four policemen, in the deadly 400-strong police assault on Memali on 19th November 1985 – purportedly because he was away on a foreign visit to China.
If Musa is right, that Mahathir was in fact in Kuala Lumpur, was the latter in fact master-minding the Memali attacks and even overruled Musa’s earlier directive to the police not to use force when arresting Ibrahim Libya and to withdraw should they encounter resistance?
Clearly, a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 29-year Memali incident is warranted by the fact that the protagonists like Mahathir and Musa Hitam are still alive and can testify on the tragedy which cost the lives of 18 people (including four policemen).
Other protagonists who are still alive today and can throw light on the Memali tragedy will include the former Inspector-General of Police, Tun Hanif Omar, former Acting Inspector-General of Police,Tan Sri Dato’ Mohd Amin bin Osman, the then Information Minister Datuk Rais Yatim, Deputy Home Minister at the time, Tan Sri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, the then UMNO Secretary-General Tan Sri Sanusi Junid, the OCPD Baling during the Memali incident, Tunku Muszaffar Shahand a follower of Ibrahim Libya who is now Senator Muhamad Yusof Husin from Baling, Kedah.
I had in fact made the call for an independent commission of inquiry into the Memali tragedy more than 29 years ago on the ground that the Kampong Memali Incident was neither a Muslim or Malay problem nor an UMNO or Pas problem but a Malaysian problem which must be dealt with on a non-partisan Malaysian basis.
The terms of reference of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Kampong Memali Incident should include an inquiry whether there was no other way for the police to handle the situation without provoking the loss of 18 lives; 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 present an independent and unbiased report on the course of events on Nov. 19 and to make recommendations as to the lessons to be learnt to prevent recurrence of the Kampong Memali Tragedy.
Source : The Edge
A former student of the late Ibrahim Mahmud or Ibrahim Libya, Zaman Mahmud said after they heard what Mahathir said, an air of sadness descended upon the village.
“Why must Tun Mahathir bring up the Memali tragedy and why use such harsh words? ‘Mati katak’ is too harsh.
“Life in Memali is calm now. Even those of us in PAS do not wish to dig up old wounds, why is Tun Mahathir doing it?” the 65-year-old said.
“To be honest, most of us are not angry with the government because for us, when it comes to the Memali tragedy, it wasn’t the government’s fault but it was the fault of one man named Mahathir,” he said.
Zaman who was also in the house when Ibrahim Libya was killed, said the remark made by Dr Mahathir could lead to tension in the village.
Another former student of Ibrahim Libya, Zakaria Abdul Rahman said those in Parti Amanah Negara (PAN) should remain with their stand which was to fight for the Memali victims to be recognised as martyrs, but right now, it appears they have no stand.
“We are very angry when people like Mat Sabu (PAN president Mohamad Sabu) took to apologising to Tun Mahathir on behalf of former PAS leaders on the Memali issue.
“Who are they to apologise when people in Memali have still not been given the right to prove who is at fault and to uncover the actual cause behind what happened. We want to respond to Tun Mahathir’s allegations.
“Alleging that our teachers and fathers died in vain is rude and cannot be forgiven. Don’t bring this up again because we want to live in peace,” he said.
Observation by NSTP reporters in Memali found that things are infact calm but tension is apparent on the faces of a small group of people near Ibrahim Libya’s house.
We are also reminded not to raise the Memali issue again because it is a sensitive matter, not just to the older generation but also to their children and grandchildren.
After much backlash, Dr Mahathir in a video posting yesterday apologised for saying that the 14 in Memali had died in vain.
He claimed it was a slip of the tongue when, during a ceramah in Lembah Pantai, Kuala Lumpur he had used the term ‘mati katak’ and not ‘mati syahid’ (died as martyrs).
Source : NST