Thank God that the Memali incident was the only tragedy that resulted from Hadi’s fiery rhetoric, says former inspector-general of police Abdul Rahim Noor.
KUALA LUMPUR Aug26, 2017 – MALAYSIA is lucky that the Memali incident has been the only tragedy to have stemmed from PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s influential speech, “Amanat Hadi”, former inspector-general of police Abdul Rahim Noor said.
Hadi’s speech in Terengganu in 1981, when he was the state PAS commissioner, had not only influenced militant leader Ibrahim Mahmud, better known as Ibrahim Libya, who was killed in Memali, but also many members of the party’s youth wing, who were arrested before they could cause trouble, Rahim said.
“Hadi had incited people by telling them that if they died in their struggle to fight Umno, which he said was a party that had embraced the policies of its colonial masters, they would be martyrs,
“Thank God, all that happened was the Memali incident; if there had been more incidents all the country, if there had been another Ibrahim Libya in Johor, Penang and other places, our country and the police will be finished,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
On November 19, 1985, four police officers and 14 civilians died when security forces laid siege to Memali village in Baling, Kedah, where Ibrahim, who was also a religious teacher and PAS grassroots leader, was hiding with members of his militant group.
Hadi’s speech on April 7, 1981, declared Umno and Barisan Nasional an infidel government who ruled like colonialists.
The speech split the Malay community along PAS and Umno lines, and led to Muslims on both sides of the political divide to call each other kaffirs, or infidels, hold separate prayers with different imam, and boycott neighbourhood gatherings if their rivals were involved.
Rahim said Hadi’s speech had inspired Ibrahim and his followers to take what was a political struggle a step further.
Rahim was the Selangor police chief at the time of the Memali incident.
Three months later, he was appointed Sabah police chief and a month later he was called back to Kuala Lumpur where he was promoted to Special Branch director.
As director of the police intelligence branch, Rahim said among the first files he had opened were the file on the Memali incident, which had occurred about four months before he arrived at the Federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman.
Rahim recalled the briefing he received from the deputy special branch director who was monitoring the movements of radical Islamist groups in Malaysia at the time.
He said apart from Ibrahim, there were three PAS Youth members then who had been influenced by Hadi’s speech.
“I don’t want to mention names because it might anger some people. They were also influenced by Hadi’s mandate.
“But the police managed to arrest the members before any untoward incident occurred. They were caught two to three months before the Memali incident.”
Rahim, who served as IGP from 1994 to 1999, reiterated that PAS was not involved in Ibrahim and his followers’ plans.
“It was not Hadi who ordered Ibrahim Libya to act in such a manner, but his (Hadi’s) influence was strong.
“But PAS also didn’t do anything to prevent Ibrahim Libya and his followers, as far as I know. We are also not sure if there was any communication between them.”
Rahim said PAS had also declared Ibrahim and his 13 followers martyrs after they were killed.
Not a political ploy
Interest in the Memali incident was renewed when a member of the audience asked Dr Mahathir Mohamad a question on the siege he Nothing To Hide 2.0 forum earlier this month.
Dr Mahathir, who is now chairman of opposition pact Pakatan Harapan, was prime minister at the time. Musa Hitam was deputy prime minister and home minister.
Violence erupted while Dr Mahathir was speaking, and Hadi had later blamed it on his failure to give a satisfactory answer to the question on Memali.
Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi had subsequently said the government was ready to hold a royal commission of inquiry into the Memali tragedy, which PAS has welcomed.
But Rahim said he didn’t think the Memali incident was “manufactured”.
“I don’t think there is any politician, no matter what his ideology is, who will condone what happened.
“The incident had involved many people’s lives and the police took action according to the law, as mentioned in the White Paper,” he said, referring to the official government record of the incident which was presented to the Dewan Rakyat in 1986.
Rahim said the police taking part in the siege were in a tense situation and could not possibly have thought of “calling the prime minister to ask for permission to open fire”.
“Those who are trying to implicate Dr Mahathir in the Memali incident should ask why Ibrahim Libya tried to attack the authorities and incite people to go against the government,” he said.
Rahim previously said that a RCI would only reveal Hadi’s role in the incident. He said there was no need for an RCI and that the government should instead table the White Paper in Parliament and allow debate on it. – Read more TMI