ANY royal investigation into the 1985 Memali incident should happen after the next general election to avoid suspicion that it is a vote-catching exercise, former deputy prime minister Musa Hitam said today.
Musa, who was the acting prime minister at the time, said the Memali incident should not be used as a “political football”.
“It is a black spot in our country’s history, involving the deaths of our citizens – policemen and the followers of a religious teacher,” he said in a statement released in Kuala Lumpur today.
Musa was responding to Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s offer to hold a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the incident during the Mahathir era.
“Voices that are for and against the formation of the RCI give the impression that the Memali incident is a political issue that is being used in the race to win votes by parties with vested interests, intent on exploiting this political opportunity. This habit of politicising everything that happens in this country is something that is regrettable,” he said.
Musa said he has since been asked several times if he agreed to the setting up of the RCI.
“For me, there is no problem, as long as the formation is with the right intention to find out the facts and truth, without any prejudice, and its formation is based on the Constitution and laws of the country.”
He said there was no need to rush into forming the RCI, seeing as the incident had occurred 32 years ago and a White Paper on the tragedy had been presented in parliament.
“In order to avoid having the Memali incident used for political interests and vote-fishing, it is wiser for its formation and proceedings (of the RCI) to be delayed until after the 14th general election.
“A calm and peaceful political environment will deter any party from using and exploiting the tragedy which involved the lives of the people.”
He said delaying the setting up of the RCI until after the elections would also give “greater credibility to the commission”.
Following Zahid’s announcement that the government was willing to set up an RCI, opposition leaders have weighed in on the debate of whether the commission was necessary.
Former police chiefs Abdul Rahim Noor and Mohammed Hanif Omar have also voiced their objections to setting up a royal commission.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT