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Kg Medan: Arrogance of Power By Police and PM
By Kim Quek
18/3/2001 9:44 pm Sun
[Mahathir jelas menghasut rakyat membenci pembangkang dengan menuduh
bukan-bukan kepada BA. Malah BA dituduh merencanakan pergaduhan kaum.
Padahal capaian penerangan dan media BA terbatas dan asyik dikejar dengan
akta hasutan. Sekadar berbeda angka kematian pun sudah bising macam anak
Mahathir lupa dia sendirilah yang menyuruh 'Melayu Berperang sebagai Satu'
beberapa hari sebelum tragedi Kg Medan. Inilah dia HASUTAN yang sepatutnya
dikejar oleh polis kerana ia tersebar lebih luas dan sehingga tegang Kg Medan.
Dan Firaun Baik ini tidak melawatpun ke hospital atau singgah ke Kg Medan
walaupun pergaduhan ini sudah mencemar keharmonian dan iklim pelaburan.
KG MEDAN: ARROGANCE OF POWER BY POLICE AND PM
The heavy partisan role played by the police in the tussle for power between
the Barisan Nasional and the Alternative Front took a dive towards the
ridiculous, when the Police Chief of Selangor State announced (on 14th) action
to investigate the party chiefs of the Alternative Front for sedition.
This police action arose from a joint statement from these party chiefs, in which
they expressed reservation over the death toll announced by the police, "based
on reliable family and hospital sources."
Not to be outshone by the police, Prime Minister Mahathir upped the ante the
next day by accusing the Opposition of inciting the racial violence in Kampung
Medan and the surroundings, singling out Keadilan Youth Leader Ezam as the
culprit, for his alleged remark (denied by Ezam) in Mingguan Malaysia that he
planned to topple the Government by street demonstrations. Mahathir made
these statements during his visit to Kuala Lipis on the 15th, according to the Sin
Chew Jit Poh daily and the Straits Times of Singapore.
These latest moves by the police and the Prime Minister are so far fetched that,
as a common citizen who has already been seasoned by BN Government's
high-handedness, I could not help but felt jolted with revulsion by such affront
against common sense and decency.
Mahathir's remarks were particularly heartless and insulting. He described the
Opposition's visits to the hospital and the afflicted zone to express their
concerns and sympathies as an act of hypocrisy to "reap political capital". He
further said "the Opposition seems to be targeting the poor in that area and has
poisoned them into thinking that the government had neglected them."
Hurling such unprovoked and unfounded political salvos at a time when the
families of those hacked to death were still overcome by grief, and scores more
grievously wounded were struggling for their lives in the hospital, is a
despicable act of bad taste. Apart from revealing the man's lack of empathy with
the unfortunate, it also shows him to be devoid of the sense of fair play. The
spontaneous reactions of the Opposition, through words and deeds, in
quenching the racial fire and for protecting the victimized, have been witnessed
by all as sincere efforts to overcome this national misfortune. BN leaders
themselves had repeatedly emphasized that this conflict had no racial or
political origin. If the Opposition had been the cause of this conflict, did it make
sense for them to repeatedly call for a thorough and independent enquiry to
ascertain the true circumstances that had occasioned this violence?
The Prime Minister can fling unjustified accusations at his adversaries at will,
knowing full well that no law-enforcing agency dare to touch him, but has he
ever given a thought to how the recipients of such injustices will feel? How
would Mahathir feel, if some one accuses him of having caused this racial
conflict, because prior to the eruption of violence at 8 pm on March 8th,
Mahathir had on the same day exhorted "MALAYS MUST FIGHT AS ONE", as
headlined by Star quoting Mahathir in a press conference convened specially
to appeal for Malay unity "in the face of threats to Malay rights?"
If Ezam could be linked to this racial conflict through his alleged words (on 4th)
of intent to overthrow the government, why can't Mahathir be also linked to the
same conflict by his calls of "Malay Must Fight As One" (on 8th)? Doesn't the
second linkage sound many times more plausible, considering the timing and
the nature of the utterances?
Being the Prime Minister and President of the ruling Malay party, Mahathir's
words of appeal to Malay sentiments should have motivated powerful racial
emotions, while no one should read any racial connotation to Ezam's alleged
words of confrontation against the government.
Coming back to the police role in these events, it cannot be denied that the
police have been instrumental in finally putting the unrest under control, for
which the Nation is grateful. But it also cannot be denied that at the outset of
this conflict, the police had shown partisanship, and failed to effectively
intervene without fear or favour in the first instant. Lives and sufferings could
have been reduced otherwise.
With regards to the void of truthful information at the early stage of violence, all
the concerned parties are to be blamed - BN leaders, police and the local
mass media. This incident was first reported as "gang fights", then casualty
figures were released without mentioning the racial nature of the conflict, while
BN leaders kept on repeating that the conflict was non-racial. It took one to
read a foreign news agency through the Internet several days later to find out
that it was in fact a clash between Malays and Indians. No doubt the origin of
the friction was non-racial, but it soon took on a racial dimension and exploded
into a full-scale racial clash. The main catalyst to this explosion was the rapid
spread of false rumours, which incensed anger and panic. The escalation went
unabated at the earlier stage despite repeated assurance by police and cabinet
ministers that the conflict was "non-racial". Why? This is because basically
government leaders and police and the media have been so unfair in dealing
with democratic dissents that they have been utterly discredited. Their
insistence that the conflict was non-racial only confirmed the people's disbelief
of official news. Hence, through this vacuum of truthful news, evil rumours
spread like wild fire and play havoc with innocent lives. By the time the truth
emerged in local mass media, the damage was already done.
It is against this background of withholding the truth from the people, that the
opposition expressed its concern and called for transparency, truthfulness and
urgency to clamp down with force and fairness. Opposition's reservation of
official death toll was merely a reflection of the consensus of families and
residents who had gone through this nightmare. As national leaders
representing one half of the population of this Country as counted in the last
General Election, these opposition leaders have the duty and the right to reflect
the thinking on the ground and question the authorities. By no stretch of any
imagination, can these responsible expressions of concerns be interpreted as
conspiracy to incite fear and chaos. It is the height of arrogance and
irresponsibility of the police to react to this opposition statement by taking steps
to charge them for the offence of sedition. Such childish police action is an
insult to the people, a mockery to democracy, and a laughing stock to the
This latest abuse of power by the police came on the heel of another ridiculous
police insolence, which was the arrest and detention for 8 days and subsequent
charging of Ezam for sedition for his alleged anti-government press statement
referred to above, which was denied by Ezam and which, at any rate is not a
breach of the law even if true.
The increasingly trigger-happy manner with which the Prime Minister and the
police are indulging in throwing accusations and slapping leaders with sedition
charges is an alarming signal of lawlessness. Such deterioration in the rule of
law is surely further dampening investment sentiments and depressing the