KUALA LUMPUR― A Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the tragic Memali Incident of 1985 will not benefit any political party even if it is held just before the 14th general elections, Datuk Seri Mohd Annuar Zaini said.
Annuar, who was the senior private secretary to the then Home Minister Tun Musa Hitam between 1981 and 1986, said that this is because it happened 32 years ago, and besides the families of those who were killed on that day, other Malaysians are unlikely to be too affected by the incident.
“I do not see much in terms of political mileage to anybody, some people say there is political mileage but it is not something which will affect voters.
“There is a scar (the incident) and the scar will never change, but those who feel affected by it cannot be more than 1,000 voters,” he told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview.
The Memali siege on November 19, 1985 resulted in the deaths of 14 civilians, four policemen, and the arrest of hundreds under the Internal Security Act, now abolished.
The officers allegedly conducted their operation under Musa’s orders, although this has since been disputed as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was prime minister at the time was in fact in Malaysia when the incident occurred.
The target was Ibrahim Mahmud, a PAS leader whom the government accused of leading a “deviationist” Islamic sect. He was popularly known as Ibrahim Libya and was among those killed in the incident.
“Obviously the aggrieved parties, the ones who have lost , as long as they live the scar is deep in them. They are not going to support the government even if there is an RCI because they will remain angry,” Annuar added.
Former deputy prime minister Musa himself has since said that any RCI into the tragic Memali Incident should be held only after the 14th general election to prevent the issue from being used as political and electoral fodder.
Agreeing with his former boss’ remarks, Annuar said that the objective approach to an RCI would be to conduct it any time after the next general election.
“Knowing Tun Musa, he remains a rational person… if the objective is to find the truth you should do it at a time where people do not think there is a side interest, or part of a political spin,” he explained.
Annuar also sought to defend Musa, saying that the latter had never once intended to remove Dr Mahathir as PM during the latter’s time as DPM.
“Tun Musa has never ever intended to remove Dr Mahathir but at the time Musa was considered to be more popular, so he was perceived as a threat,” he said.
Annuar called Musa a “victim of circumstance”, saying that perhaps one of the former DPM’s mistakes was believing he could still treat Dr Mahathir as a friend as well as his boss.
“By nature of his openness, when people are uncomfortable with Dr Mahathir’s statements they come to Musa. And Tun Musa thought he could be open and tell Dr Mahathir these concerns.
“At the end it looked to Dr Mahathir as if Musa was the one objecting to everything he set out to do,” Annuar said.
He called the end of the partnership between Musa and Dr Mahathir a “great loss” for the country, and that much more could have been achieved had there not been a fallout between the two.