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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Now, Umno rakes up Memali to drive wedge between PAS and Anwar

Now, Umno rakes up Memali to drive wedge between PAS and Anwar

With the 13th general election expected to be held in less than 60 days, Umno is cranking up the propaganda to turn the Malay electorate against the Pakatan Rakyat and to create further divisions between PAS, PKR and DAP.

Pakatan leaders pointed out that during the August Hari Raya celebrations, Umno-owned Utusan began stirring up the Mat Sabu-Mat Indera incident to create Malay disgust for PAS. Earlier this month, ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad reignited the 'hudud law' issue to drive a wedge between the secular DAP and the Islamist PAS.

Now, Pakatan leaders expect Utusan and the mainstream media to play up the Memali incident that took place in 1985 to create suspicion between PKR and PAS. . They pointed to Deputy Education Minister Puad Zarkashi's eagerness to get into the issue during a forum entitled "Should History be Rewritten".

The most dirty tricks will be used

In the Memali tradegy, some 14 PAS members including their revered leader, Ibrahim Libya, were killed after a confrontation with the police sent in by the Umno-led federal government.

"Umno can be expected to raise the level of dirty tactics going into the GE-13," PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle. "They will play the race and religious card, the sex card, nothing will be sacred."

Puad's attempt to blame PKR de-facto chief Anwar Ibrahim, who was then a junior Umno leader, put Pakatan leaders on red-alert.

"About Memali, when I was studying in the United States, Anwar was education minister. I had chaired a forum at which he said Ibrahim Libya was a traitor. He said Ibrahim Libya triggered a situation that could cause chaos and political tension," Puad had said in response to a question at the forum "Should history be rewritten?"

Why rake it up now

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution, who was also at the forum, questioned if PAS leader, the late Ustaz Ibrahim Libya, could be accused of being a criminal when he was trying to avoid arrest under the Internal Security Act, which would have allowed the government to detain him and his followers without trial for an indefinite period of time.

“If Mat Indera’s struggle against the British colonials were seen as treacherous thus labeling him as communist, what more could be said about Ustaz Ibrahim Libya? There is no need to unearth the Memali incident because it has painted a black memory for the residents of the village. The village folks in the Memali incident were portrayed by the mainstream media as being responsible to the carnage," said Saifuddin.

"This incident has been long gone and is very painful history for the nation. If it is to be played up again by the mainstream media, it will only hurt the people in that village, so let’s leave it in the past."

The PKR leader also refuted Puad's remarks, saying this was not the time to accuse anyone if there were no concrete facts.

“It is not the time for us to accuse anyone especially when the ground facts are not known and cannot be ascertained. Just because Anwar is in PKR, the issue is suddenly highlighted but when he was with Umno, even then the facts of the matter were not known," said Saifuddin.

“We cannot put any blame on Anwar, Tun Musa Hitam or even Tun Mahathir Mohamed because the time to accuse or counter accuse is over. What’s important is that such incident will not happen again."

However, a historian from the National Professors Council, Prof Ramlah Adam, also at the forum, said the Memali incident needed a full study.

"There should be an emphasis on revisiting the history of the incident so that accusations can be avoided. I agree it is not a time for accusations because what is important is to seek the truth behind the tragedy,” said Ramlah.

The tragedy of Memali

The tragedy of Memali took place November 19, 1985, with 14 people killed, countless more injured and several hundreds arrested. Those detained were later released except for 36 people who were locked up under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Memali is a tiny and remote village in Baling, Kedah. A team of 200 policemen under orders from the Acting Prime Minister and Home Minister Musa Hitam laid siege to kampung (village) houses there. Ustaz Ibrahim Libya, who real name was Ibrahim Mahmud, was in one of the houses occupied by his Islamic sect of about 400 people.

The Memali Incident followed severely strained relationships between Umno and PAS, the nation's two largest Malay-based political parties. At that time, some PAS leaders had called Umno members 'kafir' or infidels. In 1981, PAS president Hadi Awang, then a senior PAS politician, had said it was a jihad or holy war to struggle against Umno.

Tensions amongst the Muslims reached a stage when communal prayers were done separately for Umno and PAS congregations.

It is believed that the then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad wanted a crackdown to rein in what he had once termed Muslim extremism. During the confrontation between the villagers and the police, Ibrahim Libya was killed despite heroic efforts by his followers to defend him. The police codename for the uprising was ‘Operasi Angkara/Operasi Hapus’.

The incident happened when Musa Hitam was Deputy Prime Minister and also Interior Minister. Mahathir was on a working visit to China. The coffee-shop talk during the days of the Mahathir administration, which lasted from 1981 to 2003, was that he always went abroad and left the baby with his deputy whenever he had engineered an unsavory incident to occur.

Malaysia Chronicle

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