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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ex-OCPD: Bukit Aman made poor decisions in Memali

A former district police chief involved in the Memali incident suggested that Bukit Aman national police headquarters had made poor decisions in its bid to arrest so-called militant PAS leader Ibrahim Mahmood, better known as Ibrahim Libya.

NONEFormer Baling district police chief Tunku Muszaffar Shah Tunku Ibrahim (left), in his book 'Memali: A policeman remembers', said the poor decision-making was the result of political interference and underestimation of the tenacity of Ibrahim's followers.

The bloody incident on Nov 19, 1985 resulted in the death of Ibrahim, 13 of his followers and four police personnel, after a second botched attempt to arrest him under the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960.

Muszaffar wrote that the top officers in Bukit Aman should never take orders from their “political masters” and reject requests that are not in line with police norms or procedures.

“The discretion and action of the police as to how they would go about doing their duty should be according to prevailing ground situations,” he wrote.

Musa's order

At the time, the police were under the charge of Musa Hitam in his capacity as home minister. Dr Mahathir Mohamad was then the prime minister during the incident.

According to the White Paper tabled in Parliament in February 1986, the government justified attempts to arrest Ibrahim under the ISA by accusing him of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Movement which aims to topple the federal government by force.

NONEAlthough Muszaffar did not document any examples of political interference, he did note that Musa had issued specific orders during the first botched arrest attempt on Sept 2, 1984.

In the book, Muszaffar said Musa had ordered Bukit Aman to ensure that the arresting party did not use force when arresting Ibrahim and withdraw should they encounter resistence.

Led by the district special branch chief, the arresting party went to Ibrahim's home in Kampung Charok Puteh at 2.45am on that day, but withdrew after they were met by about a dozen people armed with sharpened bamboo poles and other weapons.

According to then Ibrahim follower Muhamad Yusof Husin's account of the incident, which forms a chapter of the book, the botched first arrest attempt led to followers deciding to guard him from arrest.

Educating future commanders

Muszaffar also criticised then Bukit Aman leaders, including the then-acting inspector-general of police (IGP), who was not named, for underestimating the resistance which Ibrahim's supporters would put up.

Attempts by a large police delegation to arrest Ibrahim at his home in November 1985 saw supporters attacking the police with firearms and sharp weapons, before the charismatic preacher was killed.

In the book, he described such superior officers as “armchair generals” who saw it fit to arrest Ibrahim at his bastion, knowing that his supporters were waiting and some of them had shotgun licences.

Speaking to reporters after the book launch at the Lake Club in Kuala Lumpur, Muszaffar said that his first-person account of the incident was an attempt to educate future police officers.

He stressed that his account does not contradict the White Paper, which was also reproduced in full in his book.

“My book might upset some people but my purpose is to educate the young police commanders not to repeat the mistakes,” he said.

He said that he began the book project in 2009 after being heavily persuaded by his elder brother Tunku Aziz, who is the former vice-chairperson of Transparency International and now DAP vice-chairperson.

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