Media Statement by DAP National
Chairman Lim Kit Siang in Petaling
Call on Mahathir to give the topmost priority to stamp
out the the worst ethnic clashes in Malaysia in 32 years, stop its spread
to other areas and establish a commission of inquiry to identify the
causes and map out the solutions to prevent any recurrence
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should give the topmost priority to stamp out the worst ethnic clashes in Malaysia in 32 years, stop its spread to other areas and establish a commission of inquiry to identify the causes and map out the solutions to prevent any recurrence.
For the last two days, Malaysians have been told by one top leader after another, including the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, not to listen to rumours, that the incidents were isolated ones and that the situation was under control, but the in the last 24 hours, the official death count has increased from one to three, the number of arrests have ballooned from 15 to 70, the injured have increased greatly from 18 to an unascertained figure, with numerous incidents reported not only in the several ghetto settlements off Old Klang Road in Petaling Jaya, most notably Kampung Lindungan, Kampung Medan, Kampung Ghandi, Taman Desa Ria and Kampung Datuk Harun, but also outside this area.The press today again carried front-age reports of the assurance of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Datuk Mohamad Jamil Johari, like the Sunday Star's "Under control - Police arrest 70 and beef up security after clashes". If the trebling of deaths, quadrupling of arrests, and sharp increases in the number of injured and incidents can still be termed "Under Control", what is the meaning when the situation is " Not Under Control" - would it mean tens and hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests?
There cannot be a sharper contrast yesterday between the
Prime Minister giving the assurance in Putrajaya that police will look
after the safety of the people of Kampung Medan and the neighbouring
areas off Old Klang Road and a despairing MIC President and Works Minister,
Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu breaking into tears at the University Malaya
Medical Centre when confronted by family members of K. Muneiretham,
who died after being attacked in the area on his way home from work,
The first task of the authorities is to take all necessary actions to stop any further escalation of the clashes, not only within the ghetto settlements but also in other areas, marked by no more increase of clashes, deaths or the injured.
It is most shocking that after the clashes in Kampung Lindungan last Sunday between two groups, one preparing for a wedding reception and another a funeral, where a man was slashed on his arm, four motor-cycles set on fire and several cars had their windscreens shattered, the Police failed to take effective counter measures to avoid escalation of tensions in the area, which would have nipped in the bud the conflagration in the ghetto settlements resulting in clashes on Thursday night involving about 200 people over a broken car windscreen caused by several youths playing with catapults at the Desa Ria flats.
The failure of the police and the government to have the foresight to forestall the most serious ethnic clashes in the country in 32 years must be thoroughly investigated, but this must give way to the greater priority of stamping out the clashes and their spread to other areas by the full restoration of calm, peace, personal safety and security for everyone, regardless of race.
The government cannot pretend that the worst ethnic clashes in Malaysia in the past 32 years, which have already claimed three lives by official counts, is a minor aberration as the clashes have been reported worldwide by CNN as well as the foreign media.
Mahathir should himself get down to the troubled settlements not only to ensure the full restoration of calm, peace and security for everyone and the end of any more clashes, but to demonstrate that although the three deaths were all Indians - V. Segar, 34, A. Ganeson, 28 ( a bus driver who was attacked by a group of men armed with parangs and iron rods at 2 a.m. Saturday morning) and K. Muneirethnam - the government is no less concerned.
Once the ethnic clashes are stamped out completely with
the restoration of peace, calm and security for everyone, then the next
Call on Mahathir to declare the
worst ethnic clashes in the last 32 years as a national tragedy and
disaster and the urgent convening of all-party goodwill committee to
prevent its spread to other areas
With the rise of the death toll from the ethnic clashes at the several housing settlements off Jalan Old Klang in Petaling Jaya to five in four days, and its likely further increase as four of the 37 injured are in serious condition, and with incidents from outside the area beginning to be reported, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir should declare the worst ethnic clashes in Malaysia in the last 32 years as a national tragedy and disaster.
He should urgently convene an all-party goodwill committee at national and state levels to prevent the spread of the ethnic tensions in the housing settlements off Jalan Old Klang to other areas and states. It is because of the gravity and urgency of this matter that I am issuing a second media statement on the same subject today.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Mohamed Jamil Johari told a media conference this morning that as of 8 am today, the police have arrested 153 people, out of whom 95 were Malays, 56 Indians and two Indonesians. Of the 37 people who were injured in the clashes, four of whom were in serious condition, 34 were Indians and three Malays.
What is cause for great alarm is that three of the victims slashed in separate incidents yesterday and early today were outside the troubled settlements in Petaling Jaya, namely in Jalan Gasing at 8.45 am, Kelana Jaya at 11.15 am and Sungai Way at 1.45 am. Jamil believed that these three incidents were connected to the clashes in the past four days. There have also been unofficial reports of other incidents in the state, like Bandar Sunway and Puchong.
Among the 96 weapons seized by the police so far were eight home-made bombs, parangs, knives, samurai swords, catapults, chains, steel pipes, batons and axes.
Jamil said 16 vehicles were destroyed or damaged in the clashes including a lorry and two motorcycles which were burned. During the clashes, several cars had their windscreens smashed, two vans were damaged and one bus was partly burnt.
Jamil said a total of 692 personnel from the police, Rela and St John's Ambulance were involved in maintaining peace and security in the troubled settlements.It is most disappointing that the police had not sent greater reinforcements to restore and maintain peace, calm and security for everyone in the troubled settlements, as evident by the rise in the number of deaths, injured, clashes and arrests every day since the major clashes on Thursday night.
I am particularly disappointed as the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu had told me last night when I spoke to him on the phone that the police were sending one thousand policemen to the troubled settlements. Now, it would appear that the actual number of police personnel deployed there is hardly half the figure given by Samy.
Samy also told me last night that the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would be visiting the troubled settlements off Jalan Old Klang.
Up to now, I have not received any news that Abdullah
would be visiting the troubled settlements today and assert authority
When will the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister visited the troubled settlements to show the highest government concern over the worst ethnic clashes in the country for the past 32 years?
Media Statement by DAP National
Chairman Lim Kit Siang in Petaling
Cabinet on Wednesday should establish a commission of inquiry to investigate into the causes of the worst ethnic clashes in the country in the last 32 years and the reason for the colossal failure in crisis management when the police did not take effective pre-emptive measures after the earlier clashes the previous SundayThe Cabinet on Wednesday should establish a commission of inquiry to investigate into the causes of the five-day clashes and attacks in Kampung Medan and neighbouring areas off Old Klang Road, which are the worst ethnic clashes in the country in the last 32 years and the reason for the colossal failure in crisis management when the police did not take effective pre-emptive measures after the earlier clashes the previous Sunday involving Malays preparing for a wedding and Indians preparing for a funeral. Residents in the troubled settlements had said that there had been many incidents in which people get slashed for no reason where the attackers were either drunks or involved in gangsterism. In this sense, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi were right when they first claimed that the clashes did not start as racial clashes.
Unfortunately, the original clashes involving Malays preparing for a wedding and Indians preparing for a funeral the previous Sunday and the incident involving the breaking of a car windscreen of a Malay motorist by several Indian youths playing with catapults at the Desa Ria flats flared up into a massive confrontation involving about 200 people on Thursday night, resulting in the ethnic clashes in past fiveays making them the worst in Malaysia in 32 years resulting so far in the official statistics of six deaths, 44 injured and 177 arrests as well as the destruction of some 20 vehicles.
The failure of the police and the authorities to prevent the Thursday flare-up after the earlier Sunday incidents is a colossal blunder in crisis management which must be investigated thoroughly for the government to learn the expensive lessons being paid not only by the innocent victims of the clashes but also by the nation in terms of a major nation-building setback and severe damage to our international reputation.
The Cabinet on Wednesday should take a serious view of the very inflammatory statement made by the local State Assemblywoman in the area, Norkhaila Jamaluddin (Taman Medan - UMNO) who said that the Malays in the area have "long been patient although the Indians have attacked us again and again".
She told Malaysiakini last Friday: "Every three or four months, we hear of incidents such as these. We (the Malays) have long been patient and many have been terkorban" explaining that terkorban meant 'ending up as the victims'.The Cabinet should ask the Attorney-General, Datuk Ainum Mohd Saaid to study as to whether Norkhaila had committed sedition in inciting ethnic clashes in her constituency and whether sedition charges should be filed against her.
DAP calls for three-prong response to the Taman Medan clashes including an independent commission of inquiry and a RM100 million socio-economic upliftment programme
DAP extends its deepest condolences to the families of victims of senseless violence in the five day of clashes and attacks in Kampung Medan and neighbouring areas off Old Klang Road, Petaling Jaya, which had brought sufferings to innocent victims and cause a major setback to the nation-building process as well as severely damage Malaysia's international reputation as a model multi-racial nation. The tragedy of the five-day clashes and attacks have resulted in six deaths, 44 injured, 183 arrests and the destruction of some 20 vehicles. DAP calls for three-prong response to the Taman Medan clashes, namely:
· establishment of goodwill committees to rebuild inter-racial understanding, harmony and peace for which the DAP and the Barisan Alternative are prepared to give full co-operation;
· a commission of inquiry to investigate into the causes of the worst ethnic clashes in the country in the last 32 years and why the police failed to take effective pre-emptive measures after the clashes last Sunday; and
· a RM100 million socio-economic plan to transform the ghetto settlements off Old Klang Road, housing some 100,000 squatters in squalid living conditions rampant with crime and gangsterism, into better living environments. The Cabinet tomorrow should establish a commission of inquiry to investigate into the causes of the five-day clashes and attacks and the reasons for the colossal failure in crisis management when the police did not take effective pre-emptive measures after the earlier clashes the previous Sunday involving Malays preparing for a wedding and Indians preparing for a funeral. The commission of inquiry should find out whether the police had acted with neutrality and professionalism, and why the five-day clashes with its heavy toll of deaths, injuries and damage to inter-ethnic relations could not have been averted.
When clashes leading to violence, maiming and deaths flare up in socially and economically depressed settlements with ethnically-mixed and a huge population of some 100,000, the police should have rushed in strong police presence to maintain peace, law and order in numbers of thousands rather than hundreds.
The commission of inquiry should investigate as to why the police did not respond with the powerful police presence immediately after the original clashes involving Malays preparing for a wedding and Indians preparing for a funeral the previous Sunday, or at least immediately after the incident involving the breaking of a car windscreen of a Malay motorist by several Indian youths playing with catapults at the Desa Ria flats on Thursday, when there was a massive confrontation involving about 200 people.
It was only after further clashes and unnecessary toll
of human lives and sufferings on Saturday, with the personal intervention
of the MIC President and Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, that
there was a further increase of police reinforcements. I understand
there are now some 500 police in the troubled settlements. If this is
true, the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai, should explain
why the police could deploy 700 police personnel on January 20, 2001
for a peaceful Hari Raya-Chinese New Year-Christmas-Ponggal gathering
in Banting with about 5,000 people, while it could not deploy one thousand
police personnel to police Taman Medan and the surrounding areas right
from the very start of the troubles? The police decision today to ban
all public gatherings and speeches in Selangor state giving the clashes
as the reason is most ridiculous, especially as political gatherings
have no connection with the clashes, and all the political parties had
acted most responsibily in trying to end the clashes. Media Statement
by DAP National Chairman Lim Kit Siang in Petaling
DAP calls for Masterplan in Eighth
Malaysia Plan to transform the urban ghettos in Taman Medan and adjacent
settlements into modern township
The Taman Medan clashes, the worst in the past 32 years, represent the quadruple failures in nation-building, development planning, law enforcement and mass communications.In my very first statement on the Taman Medan clashes on Sunday, March 11, 2001 - when I had visited the tragic victims of the clashes admitted as patients in the University Malaya Medical Council - I had called for an independent commission of inquiry into the causes of the clashes because these quadruple failures must be identified and analysed to become valuable lessons for all policy makers and implementors to ensure no recurrence of such clashes in Taman Medan or other parts of the country.
The establishment of an independent commission of inquiry is not to find faults or point fingers of blame, but to establish where the country has gone wrong after 43 years of nation-building and development planning, how the police could be more pro-active in future by taking effective pre-emptive measures to defuse escalating social and ethnic tensions and equally important, why the communications policy had failed so dismally that rumours supplanted the electronic and printed media as being more believable by the people.
As it is more important to focus on the basic causes of the clashes, I had right from the beginning urged the government to eliminate the ghetto conditions in Taman Medan and the surrounding human settlements by putting in place an immediate RM100 million socio-economic plan to transform the squatter settlements off Old Klang Road, Petaling Jaya with some 30,000 squatters into a modern township as the most effective means of wiping out the urban squalor and rampant crime in the area.
Federal and State Government announcements in the past few days of housing programmes and social and development plans to provide better facilities and amenities in the wake of the clashes are welcome, but they are likely to be forgotten when national attention now rivetted on the area fades with the passage of time because of preoccupation with new problems and the latest nation-building crisis.
For this reason, DAP calls for a Masterplan to transform the urban ghetto conditions in the various housing settlements off Old Klang Road, Petaling Jaya into a modern township to be a new highlight in the Eighth Malaysia Plan to be approved by Parliament next month so that there would be regular and constant monitoring of its progress.
This should be the top agenda for the government and the nation in the aftermath of the clashes in Taman Medan and the adjacent housing settlements. It would be very unfortunate if the authorities lose sight of the most pressing issues, to address the quadruple failures in nation-building, development planning, law enforcement and mass communications and to incorporate a Master Plan to transform the urban ghettos off Old Klang Road into a modern township in the Eighth Malaysia Plan and are more interested in victimising and persecuting opposition leaders as in the police report on sedition against the Barisan Alternative leaders for their joint media statement on the clashes.
The Barisan Nasional government should accept the offer of co-operation extended by the Barisan Alternative leaders to address the quadruple failures of nation-building, development planning, law enforcement and mass communications highlighted by the clashes and make a success of the Master Plan in the Eighth Malaysia Plan to transform the urban ghettos into a modern township instead of creating further antagonisms and divisions between the Barisan Nasional and the Barisan Alternative.
- Lim Kit Siang
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