“Even now we have people instigating demonstrations against the government, do we shoot all the demonstrators? I think a few rounds of tear gas against the villagers at Memali would have been sufficed, that would have scattered them”
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — The government had used disproportionate force against “village folks” during the 1985 Memali siege that left 18 dead, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said today.
Nazri said he supported the formation of a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into the tragedy at the remote village in Kedah, where 14 villagers and four police officers died during a standoff between the police and a Muslim sect, that had occurred during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration.
“These people were just villagers. They were not terrorists. I think the government’s response in shooting them was a bit too much,” he told reporters after launching Pasareka 2017.
The Umno supreme council member also added that when the Al Maunah incident happened and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was then defence minister, the latter refused to use force to handle the issue.
Nazri was referring to the audacious Al Maunah weapons raid conducted on July 2, 2000 on the 304th Malaysian Army Reserve Camp at Temenggor Dam, Gerik, Perak, which led to a subsequent siege by the police and military against the group at Kampung Sauk in Kuala Kangsar.
Dressed as senior military officers, led by Mohamed Amin Mohamed Razali, the group claimed to be making a surprise inspection and raided the armory of weapons.
“There were factions that wanted the green light to attack but Najib didn’t take that step. He believed that these are simple kampung folks and are not terrorists, merely a ragtag army. He decided to talk to them instead,” Nazri said.
The siege finally ended when the police and military were forced to storm the Al Maunah camp. In the end, two security officers were killed in action and one Al Maunah member was killed when he refused to retreat.
At the same time, Nazri dismissed claims that the bloodshed in Memali was triggered by “Amanat Hadi”, or PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s statement allegedly talking about “jihad” against Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN).
“Even now we have people instigating demonstrations against the government, do we shoot all the demonstrators? I think a few rounds of tear gas against the villagers at Memali would have been sufficed, that would have scattered them,” he said.
Nazri also added the government already knew the cause of the incident due to the distribution of a white paper in Parliament, but now wanted to know who gave the orders to open fire.
“Mahathir must answer. In a government, the buck stops at the Prime Minister. Maybe we should call the IGP of that time or call the ones who attacked and find out who gave the instructions,” said Nazri.
Commenting on former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam’s call to have the RCI postponed till after the elections, Nazri said that postponing the issue is already a political call as an RCI is a fact finding mission.
Source: The Malay Mail Online