Opposition MPs want Memali incident re-examined


(The Star) – Opposition lawmakers Monday called for the Government to reopen and review the Memali incident in 1985, following then home minister Tun Musa Hitam’s recent claim on the matter.

Musa alleged on Friday that the prime minister at the time, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad, was actually in the country during the incident, contrary to reports which said that he was in China.

“For almost three decades now, people were made to believe that Tun Mahathir was in China for a visit, leaving Musa in charge of the situation,” Datuk Mahfuz Omar (PAS- Pokok Sena) said during a press conference at Parliament.

“This suggests there was some kind of conspiracy which was carried out in a discreet manner.

“Now that the rabbit is out of the hat, it is time for the Government to give some explanation,” he said.

Mahfuz also asked the Government to retract the White Paper presented in the Parliament in 1986.

“Based on the words of Musa, the facts on that White Paper are clearly now subject to doubt. Therefore, it is time to retract and analyse it again.

“We also request the Fatwa Kebangsaan (National Fatwa Council) to withdraw its stand on classifying those involved in Memali as traitors, as this new disclosure may lead to their credibility being questioned,” he said, adding that suggestions of a conspiracy also led to the credibility of the then Sultan of Kedah, who is the present King, to be questioned.

Hatta Ramli (PAS-Kuala Krai) then demanded that justice be served for the victims of the Memali incident.

“They are now dead and there is no one to defend them or their families who have faced terrible psychological consequences. They were cheated, and we would like to have this case reopened.

“We hope to help those who are innocent,” he said, adding that the claim by Musa showed that far too many things were disregarded before the Memali issue was concluded.

Hatta said the then Inspector-General had not reported to Musa on the issue although the latter was the Home Minister.

“Tun Mahathir’s answer that he does not remember his whereabouts and his needing to look at all the reports to verify the issue bring about more doubt.

“If he were being honest, he could just say ‘That is not true, Musa is lying,’ but he is not doing that, therefore something is clearly off and we demand that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and other rightful authorities look into this,” he added.

In November 1985, a team of close to 200 policemen laid a military blockade in a village called Baling, Kedah, where the houses were occupied by an Islamic sect of about 400 people led by Ibrahim Libya, a religious preacher who ran a religious school and was accused of deviant teachings.

According to reports, the incident led to 14 civilian deaths and two policemen as well as the detention of 36 people under the Internal Security Act.

The incident followed conflicts between Umno and PAS, where PAS leader Hadi Awang in 1981 had concluded Umno leaders as apostate and opposed them for not practising the Islamic Hudud Law.

Ibrahim Libya, a PAS follower, had contested for the Baling parliamentary seat.