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Kg Medan: Memorandum to PM on recent ethnic clashes
22/3/2001 4:40 pm Thu
[Berikut adalah salinan memorandum yang diserahkan kepada PM
pada 11 pagi, 20/3/2001 di Parlimen. PM yang nampaknya buat tidak
tahu sahaja kehadiran NGO. Kalau ya pun kirimlah seorang dua
wakil untuk menerima memo - bukannya susah sangat. Para NGO masih
menunggu sehingga jam 3:30 petang dalam kehampaan namun orang yang
ingin ditemui tidak muncul datang. Nampak jelas masalah rakyat tidak
diberi perhatian sedangkan BN melaung 'tradisi membela rakyat'.
Memo ini mengandungi beberapa butiran terperinci kejadian di Kg Medan.
Sepatutnya polis datau kerajaan lebih kehadapan dalam memberi lapuran
seperti yang terkandung di dalam memo ini. Selamat membaca satu kezaliman
yang dilakukan oleh pihak yang tidak bertanggungjawab terhadap masyarakat
This is the copy of the memorandum that is to be handed over to the Prime
Minister at 11am today (March 20) at Parliament House. As at 3.30pm,
representatives of 51 NGOs are still waiting outside Parliament to hand it
over to the PM or his senior representative.
In light of the recent socio-economic centred ethnic violence in Kampung
Medan and its surrounding areas off Old Klang Road in Petaling Jaya, we, the
undersigned non-governmental organisations and concerned citizens:
1) ROYAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
There have been conflicting reports, accusations and counter-accusations
from several quarters since the violence erupted on March 8, 2001. Only a
Royal Commission of Inquiry can ascertain the truth of the matter. This
a) ascertain the causes of the recent clashes;
b) bring the perpetrators of the violence to justice; and
c) identify the structural weaknesses in present poverty eradication
programmes in order to prevent future recurrence of such tragedy.
2) FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR THE AFFECTED FAMILIES
The victims are from the low-income group and some families have lost their
breadwinners. Therefore, immediate financial assistance, along with free
counselling services and rehabilitation programmes that would overcome the
trauma, must be extended to them.
3) IMMEDIATE SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES
New socio-economic development programmes must be planned and implemented in
consultation with local community leaders. These programmes should be
managed by an independent team without any direct political interference.
These programmes will aim to provide adequate housing, sanitation, community
centres, recreational facilities, public amenities and places of worship.
The poorest segments of the community¡Xregardless of their ethnic
background¡Xshould be given further aid to own houses.
4) SPECIAL MULTI-ETHNIC POLICE TASK FORCE
The police was perceived to have acted sluggishly during the first three
days. Therefore, we believe only a special multi-ethnic police task force
will be suitable for handling Kampung Medan type of conflicts that involve
The communities living in the affected areas have long been suffering from
drug and gangster related problems. These problems, however, are not merely
confined to Kampung Medan area. Therefore, a national task force that would
take a holistic approach must be set up to resolve these problems. Besides
police action, the task force should aim to find permanent solutions
involving vocational training, creating employment and business
opportunities. There should be avenues for recreational, religious and
Malaysians of all walks face racial discrimination and religious
intolerance. Taking Kampung Medan incident as a cue, a Race Relations
Commission be set up in order to eradicate all such unfair discrimination.
The Commission will have the power to investigate overt and institutional
racism, and to recommend possible remedies.
1.1) Between March 8 and March 12, 2001, six people, who were either hacked
or bludgeoned, died from a socio-economic centred racial strife. Over 40
people have since been treated for serious injuries - some of which were near
fata - in the University Malaya Medical Centre. The majority of these people,
both killed and injured, were predominantly poor Indian Malaysians.
1.2) The conflict has created a climate of fear, anxiety and suspicion. Many
children in the affected areas are frightened to even enter their school
buses, fearing those buses might be burnt down. Many families and their
members in the affected areas, in particular, are traumatised.
1.3) The affected Indian Malaysians, and those who sympathise with them, are
very much disillusioned with government response.
A preliminary fact finding (refer to Appendix I and II) allows us to make
the following observations:
2.1) The attackers seem to be in the age range of 18 years - 28 years.
2.2) Generally, there were groups of youths armed with parangs, samurai
swords, spiked mace, iron rods and sticks roaming in the vicinity. Sometimes
they travelled on motorcycles. (We fail to understand how armed mobs were
able to move around in groups sometimes in broad daylight in a security
2.3) The majority of the dead and injured are members of the poorer section
of the Indian Malaysian community.
2.4) In incidents outside the area in question, the victims were seem to be
identified and targeted. They were attacked in isolated areas.
3.0) Emotional and Institutional Deformities
3.1) It appears that the government is actively denying the racial
dimension. It seems to emotionally ask: ¡§Racism in Malaysia? Hardly. These
incidents are just like any fights. They have nothing to do with race.¡¨
Perhaps the government is concerned about our nation¡¦s image; about
investor¡¦s confidence. But such emotional attachment to a distorted reality
is likely to prevent a comprehensive response to the problems we are facing.
Our nation needs to wake up to the problem of racism in order to bring it
into the open for discussion. Wishful thinking will not save us from the
3.2) The political parties and the government speak about many social
situations or events in racial terms while we are expected to be non-racial.
IIn addition, many things that are going on among Malaysians are seen as
problems associated with individual communities. This racial identification
of issues that are essentially the problems of citizens of this country,
seem to have maintained a layer of prejudice and distrust deep in our psyche
and unconscious or routine practices. Add all this to the present moment in
our nation's life -- the Malay unity talks, the Suqui episode, the Damansara
Chinese school controversy and now the ethnic clash near Old Klang Road --
which have all contributed to the ethnic segmentation of our world further.
It's about time we look at issues from a national people-centred
3.3) During an ethnic conflict, it is reasonable to expect the media to
exercise great care and sensitivity in reporting the events. Unwittingly,
the excessive control, self-censorship and distortion have had other
consequences during the conflict. Firstly, a few victims ventured out of
their homes only after learning from the electronic media that the situation
in the area was normal; but they were attacked, and suffered serious
injuries. Secondly, excessive media control leads to the spread of unhealthy
rumours and speculations, which have the potential to worsen the conflict.
3.4) A public order agency dominated by one ethnic group working in a
conflict situation within a multi-ethnic environment is not healthy. It
creates problems of loyalty, between being sincere to professional conduct
or to ethnic affiliation. What we probably need is a special multi-ethnic
task force or group with the power to lead in the management of racial
conflict situation swiftly and smoothly. Such a force also brings about a
more positive response from the victims who can feel assured of support and
care in a moment when their world loses any certainty. This force must of
course go through a very different sort of training.
3.5) The government's social policy is in a state of disarray. Pushing its
programme on privatisation, withdrawing from its re-distribution role and
thinking itself to be a corporation has only shifted the government to suit
the need of those in the upper sections of a pervasive system of
social/income inequality. Housing and provision of basic services are of
less concern particularly if it involves the poor and their locality.
Services do not come unless something drastic like deaths happens. Why? Has
the government implemented its policy on low-cost housing stringently? Has
it made attempts to engineer social environments in which people from
different ethnic groups can live peacefully?
3.6) The breakdown of the plantation economy, the migration of poor Indian
Malaysians from rural to urban poverty, residence at squatter areas like the
one involved in the recent ethnic conflict, lack of opportunities, the
socialisation into anti-social survival strategies are not purely the making
of the community. Why would any community want their young to become
gangsters? This country is neither sensitive to unhealthy processes that are
going on nor is it ready to take comprehensive action to resolve the
problems in the early stage. The Indians are facing a problem with violent,
aggressive youngsters who are very often gang members. Having such an
aggressive youth group in an absolutely cruel, unfriendly, dilapidated
multi-ethnic living environment brings the possibility of racial conflict to
the centre of the present national but careless social agenda. The issue of
Indian gangsterism is directly linked to economic marginalisation and it can
only be resolved by:
(a) increasing the educational and economic opportunities of youth; and
(b) actively de-sensitising the youth to an aggressive anti-social culture
that has developed as a survival strategy.
Till recently, what has the government done but kept releasing statistics
about how many gangsters there are among the Indians.
4.1) Given the situation as discussed above, the majority of the people in
this country and certainly most Indian Malaysians placed their lives and
their future in the care of the government. That is the basis of a social
contract. The people elect the government and the government delivers goods,
services, a peaceful environment and uplift the quality of life and standard
of living. This government has failed in providing for and taking care of
the poor Malaysians. This we believe is a violation of the social contract
and trust placed on the elected government.
4.2) The government has not over the years addressed the problem of racism
comprehensively. In fact such a denial provided the basis for political
survival. It continues to deny the problem while promoting it in its actions
and policies only further consolidating the racial situation in this
country. Further, it does not seem to make social impact assessment of
various events and their bearing on race relations in this country.
4.3) We believe the Prime Minister of Malaysia had the power and authority
to decisively act to minimise the deaths of Malaysian citizens and reduce
the harm meted out to many who have survived the ordeal.
4.4) We hold the Prime Minister of Malaysia and the government responsible
for what happened in Kampung Medan and the surrounding areas off Old Klang
The names and injuries of victims of the violence in Kampung Medan and
surrounding areas off Old Klang Road warded in the University Malaya Medical
Centre were recorded by a six-member team representing a network of NGOs for
a Violence Free Community at noon on March 13, 2001.
They visited 24 people, including four who were in serious conditions. The
ethnic breakdown is 18 Indians, two Malays, one Chinese, one Indonesian, one
Bangladeshi and one Pakistani.
The interviews with the following victims were conducted by a group of
professionals with the aim to obtain the views of the victims in ward 9 of
University Malaya Medical Centre between 6pm and 8pm on March 15 and 16,
According to a 26-year-old construction worker, he and his friend
were returning to their homes in Kampung Semarak off Old Klang Road on a
motorcycle after having dinner in a restaurant at 10.30pm on March 8 when
they were attacked by about 50 armed youths. The youths, aged 22-23 years,
were on motorcycles and a white Proton Iswara car. They were carrying iron
rods, wooden sticks and hockey sticks. The construction worker's friend, who
was the pillion rider, was hit by one of the youths. The pillion rider
jumped off the motorcycle and ran as fast as he could. The worker says he
rode on but the youths caught up with him and beat him up with everything
that they were carrying. They left the scene after assaulting him. The man's
right leg is broken and has bruises on the body and both hands. He is
certain his attackers were not from there but outsiders. About 2.30am, he
says he saw an ambulance passing his way and threw stones at the ambulance
to get the attention of the driver because he was too weak to shout for
help. The ambulance driver and his partner then took him to the hospital.
He says he now fears for the safety of his mother and three sisters, as they
are too frightened to even go out to dry their laundry.
On March 8 about 10.30pm, a 19-year-old college student from Taman
Medan was returning home on a motorcycle after buying some burgers. The
burger stall is situated about 100 yards from a T-junction near Sekolah
Menengah Datuk Harun. Earlier, as he was heading towards the stall he saw a
white Proton Wira police patrol car plying the same road and felt that there
was nothing to be unduly worried about. As he was approaching the school,
about five to six youths, aged 25-26 years, obstructed his way and ordered
him to stop. When he stopped, they asked him about his ethnic origin. The
student says the men immediately attacked him when he identified himself
with sharp instruments, wooden sticks and a heavily spiked mace on his head,
abdomen and hands. The student says he lost consciousness. When he regained
consciousness in the school grounds, he saw a policewoman and three
policemen nearby. He says he blacked out again and regained consciousness in
the hospital. The student has multiple slash wounds on the head and abdomen.
HHe also has a deep slash almost severing the wrist from the left hand. The
student says he has seen his attackers before in a neighbouring village but
they do not know each other.
A Form 5 student from Kampung Gandhi was accompanying his elder
brother to park their van near their aunt's house in Taman Medan at 3 pm on
March 10 when they were chased by about 100 men on motorcycles. The men who
were armed with samurai swords, wooden sticks and iron rods, caught up with
the two and assaulted them near their aunt's house that was locked at that
time. The student's injuries were not as severe as his brother's was. His
brother's hands were almost severed. At the time of interview on March 15,
the student's brother was unable to speak coherently. The student says he
has never seen his attackers before. He is certain they are outsiders. He
says he and his brother shouted for help but none of the Indian or Malay
neighbours came to their aid. About 30 minutes later an ambulance arrived
and took them to the hospital.
Between 2.30pm and 3.30pm on March 10, a fruit seller employer and
his two assistants from Bidor, Perak, had delivered fruits to a shop in
Kampung Datuk Harun. According to the 31-year-old fruit seller, as they were
on their way out of the place in his lorry, he heard shouts. Then a group of
people knocked on the side of the window where the assistants were sitting
and asked them to get down from the lorry. The fruit seller says the front
and left glasses of the lorry were smashed. He says the men who knocked on
the side of the window pulled him to the right side of the lorry and his
assistants to the left. He says he was not assaulted but his two assistants
were. The fruit seller says he told the assailants that the two were his
workers. When he tried to help his workers, the assailants showed parangs
and short swords at him. He says he lodged a police report after the injured
workers were sent to the hospital by the police.
At 1.30pm on March 10, a 28-year-old road construction worker left
his house in Taman Medan to have lunch in Medan Sunway after being reassured
by the news over radio that the situation in the neighbourhood is normal. As
he was cycling towards Sekolah Menengah Dato Harun he saw a motorcyclists
who had an angry look riding in the opposite direction. The worker says the
motorcyclist turned back, came from behind and hit him across his face with
a long piece of wood and rode off. He says his nose was broken and bleeding.
TThe worker says the motorcyclist was about to return and assault him further
when a policeman who was passing by on a motorcycle witnessed the incident.
The policeman went to the worker's rescue and the assailant fled the scene.
The worker says the policeman took him to a public booth and telephoned for
a patrol car. While he was waiting about 10-20 villagers came to him and
expressed sympathy. One gentleman, about 70, offered to keep the victim's
bicycle safely in his compound till he is well to ride again. Soon the
police patrol car arrived and took the victim to the hospital.
At 9pm on March 13, a lorry driver and a factory supervisor had just
stepped out of the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple compound in Puchong after
switching off the lights. They had walked a short distance when suddenly two
men sprang up from behind a parked lorry with parangs and attacked them. The
neighbours came to the victims' help after hearing their cries for help. The
assailants fled. The lorry driver identifies the two assailants as small
built and between 25 and 28 years. The supervisor's four fingers on the
right hand were nearly severed and have been reattached. He also has two
slash wounds across his shoulders. He says he has no police record and has
never been involved in any gang fights. The lorry driver's fingers in the
left hand were almost severed. He also has a slash wound at the back of the
List of organisations endorsing the memorandum: