If Umno-Baru is the only party able to protect the Malays and defend Islam, why did it allow the Memali massacre to happen, on Nov 19, 1985, when Malay killed Malay and Muslim fought against Muslim?
Others disagree. They believe that Memali was an uprising of the masses against tyranny. Another group insists that the Memali massacre was to divert attention from another government failure. A few people maintain that the purpose of the Memali massacre was an act to remove a political threat.
What do you believe? Perhaps you don’t want to know or don’t care.
The nouveaux riches of Umno-baru, or their cronies, will never visit Memali. The benefits of the NEP have not been extended to Memali. If the government has nothing to hide, why did Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia reject a motion to debate the formation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to probe the Memali massacre?
He dismissed Musa Hitam’s remarks as ‘hearsay’ because they were made at a forum. Now that former PM Mahathir Mohamad has admitted being in Malaysia, at the time of the massacre, will Pandikar fulfil the famous Umno-Baru tradition of back-tracking, and allow the debate to go ahead?
Tunku Muszaffar Shah Tunku Ibrahim, the OCPD of Baling from 1981-1986, mentioned in his book, ‘Memali: A Policeman Remembers’, that Mahathir was in Malaysia (pp 156). He alleged political interference.
There are news articles supporting the fact that Mahathir was present, on the day of the massacre, before his flight to China on the following day. When Musa made his revelation, the Malaysian rakyat was curious to know who was telling the truth.
The point is that both men are guilty. One man kept quiet while the other carried out atrocities against the Malays and the Malaysian rakyat. Let us not forget that the villagers of Memali were attacked and denied justice.
Several hundred policemen used extreme force (tear gas, armoured vehicles, assault rifles and artillery) against a group of defenseless villagers, who dared to stand up against tyranny.
When Mahathir finally admitted that he was present in Malaysia, he said: “It is very unfortunate that while the deaths of Ibrahim and his followers are remembered and they were even declared as martyrs, the deaths of the members of the security forces are forgotten”.
The policemen were shot by their own men in a hasty, botched operation. Who ordered the assault? One eye-witness wondered why the authorities did not place a cordon around Memali. He said: “After three days, Ibrahim would have surrendered because they did not have enough food and water. There was no need for violence and automatic weapons.”
Readers may recall the My Lai massacre, where American soldiers massacred 500 Vietnamese villagers during the Vietnam War, or when British soldiers killed the villagers of Batangkali during the Malayan Emergency. My Lai and Batangkali were acts committed during war or at a time of conflict.
Is Musa Hitam clearing his conscience before he dies?
Memali is different. It was an act of cowardly aggression and extreme violence, during peacetime, by a government acting against its own people.
Urban Malaysia was giddy with progress and development in the 80s, but many rural parts were mired in decay and poverty. Many people rejected Umno. The authorities spread allegations about ‘communists’ in Memali, but after the assault, they did not find a fort, just a madarasah. There were no communists being sheltered, and no weapons.
If Ibrahim was a deviant, why did the National Fatwa Council not issue a fatwa against him? Members of the Al-Arqam sect had been rehabilitated, so why was Ibrahim denied rehabilitation? If the government felt justified in attacking the village, why were the wives of the murdered men given compensation, albeit a paltry amount each?
If Ibrahim was a penderhaka (traitor), why did the Sultan of Kedah, now the Agong, pay his respects to Ibrahim and the villagers who perished, by offering prayers and holy water at their grave in Kumpung Parit Panjang.
It is alleged that he did not repeat this for the four policemen. The only survivor of the attack continued to teach in religious schools until his death in 2001. If his leader, Ibrahim was a deviant, then this man would have been one too.
Women and children were detained after the attack. Several men were imprisoned under the ISA and when PAS complained, Umno waited until just before the General Election, to release them, without charge. Why not earlier?
Why did Musa Hitam wait until now to disclose Mahathir’s presence? Can he see the fall of Umno-Baru and is he trying to salvage his reputation? Is he aligning himself with the anti-Mahathir side? Is he clearing his conscience before he dies?
When the White Paper on the Memali massacre was being produced, why did no one (policemen, press corps, civil servants, airport officials, etc.) come forward to say that Mahathir was in the country, at the time of the massacre? Were they not asked? Were people afraid of talking?
Scores of civil servants saw Mahathir off and several more were in his entourage. Were news reports not checked? These point to a shabby investigation by the authors of the White Paper. This lie that Mahathir was in China at the time of the Memali massacre, which has now been refuted by Musa Hitam and Mahathir has also confirmed that for 30 years or more, Malaysians existed in a culture of fear.
Yes, Memali was an attack against Malays and Muslims. Umno and Umno-Baru do not want the Malays to reject the party and join PAS. Memali was also an attack on those who oppose tyranny. The villagers stood up to Mahathir. The villagers, including women, were prepared to defend, and die, for Ustaz Ibrahim. How many would do the same for Mahathir?
The charismatic Ibrahim was a threat to Umno in Mahathir’s state of Kedah. Mahathir saw him as a political threat and decided to remove him. Anyone who was in the way, was just collateral damage.
Memali served another purpose. Months earlier, the Mahathir administration was rocked by Bank Bumiputra’s Hong Kong subsidiary, Bumiputra Malaysia Finance Ltd’s (BMF) scandal involving the loss of billions of ringgits and the murder of another Malay man in Hong Kong. Memali was a convenient distraction.
If you think Memali has nothing to do with you, then you are wrong. Memali is about a government which crushes dissent with violence. Just examine the facts that are available, judge for yourself, and then examine your conscience.
If we ignore what happened at Memali, we allow the mastermind and perpetrators of this act of aggression, to escape scot-free. The implications are great, for you, for the country and for your children’s future.
Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.
~ Free Malaysia Today