(Used by permission)
All stories by Dr Cheah Boon Kheng
WHEN PAS agreed to join the Alliance government in 1972, it was acknowledged that Kelantan would stay a PAS stronghold, but Umno would have a share in the state’s PAS–dominated government.
The terms of agreement were reached in September 1972 between Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and the PAS leader, Datuk Mohamed Asri (see Gordon P. Means, Malaysian Politics, 1976, p.406).
Strong opposition within PAS prolonged the negotiations, but the terms of coalition were finally approved by the PAS annual congress in January 1973 by a vote of 190 to 94 with 19 abstentions. PAS then joined the coalition government, with Asri as land development minister, while a number of PAS leaders were appointed to lesser federal posts.
The Barisan Nasional (BN), which replaced the Alliance, was formally registered in 1974. However, Umno’s promise of non–interference in Kelantan was not observed for long.
Participation in the BN coalition appeared to benefit PAS leaders more at the federal than at the state level as Umno–PAS rivalries intensified in Kelantan, leading eventually to PAS’s decision to remove the incumbent Mentri Besar Mohamed Nasir for defying party instructions in 1977.
Nasir appeared to be more a recalcitrant than an Umno convert, but his defiance towards the PAS leadership gave Umno great satisfaction. PAS called for his resignation, but he refused, and presented himself as the champion of an honest and clean government against corrupt and self–serving politicians.
A “no–confidence” motion was tabled in the Kelantan state assembly and carried by 20 PAS votes after 13 Umno and one MCA assembly members walked out in protest.
A legal impasse followed when Mohamed Nasir called for the dissolution of the state assembly. His supporters demonstrated in the streets, and violence and looting erupted. This led the Federal government to ask the Yang di–Pertuan Agong to declare an Emergency and a curfew in the state capital in 1977.
However, before the emergency was declared, Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn – who had succeeded Tun Razak upon his death in 1976 – and Umno ministers attempted to negotiate a settlement with PAS federal leaders.
After several proposals were rejected, Hussein said he would impose federal rule in Kelantan for “public security”.
An emergency bill for Kelantan, pending a new state election, was rushed through Parliament and passed with 118 votes in support, and 18 against. Of the 14 PAS members, 12 voted against while all six DAP members opposed the motion.
PAS members who held office in the BN government resigned but said they would remain in the BN. However, the BN Council decided to expel all members who had voted against the Kelantan Emergency Bill.
In the March 1978 state elections, PAS lost to Umno which then formed the state government.
Since the 1977 split, PAS has remained in the Opposition and all attempts to get it to rejoin the BN have failed.
The CPM’s controversial role
SINCE the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM)’s armed struggle ended in 1989, public controversy has arisen over the party’s armed struggle and its contribution to the achievement of Malaya’s independence.
In 2003, CPM leader Chin Peng published his memoirs, My Side of History, in which he gives an insider’s account of why and how the communist insurgency failed.
His application to return to Malaysia to launch his book was rejected by the Home Ministry. His appeal against this ban is pending before the High Court.
Born Ong Boon Hua in October, 1924 in Sitiawan, Perak, Chin Peng joined the clandestine CPM at 15 and became its secretary–general, its highest–ranking member, at 23.
He adopted the alias “Chin Peng” as all secretary cell members had to conceal their real identity from the police. During the Malayan Emergency (1948–1960), the British offered a bounty of $250,000 (Straits dollars) for his head.
In his memoirs, Chin Peng claims he was always a nationalist, saying the party’s armed struggle was to free Malaya from British rule and obtain independence.
But, he takes responsibility for the thousands of lives lost and sacrificed in the struggle. This was inevitable, he says, because it was a “war” for national independence.
The Memali incident
THE Memali incident in Kampung Memali in Kedah’s Baling district happened at the height of Islamic resurgence in the 1980s. The Nov 19, 1985 incident eventually took 18 lives, including that of Ibrahim Mahmood or Man Libya – the leader of a militant Islamic group – and four police personnel.
In a Feb 25, 1986 White Paper, then Home Minister Datuk Musa Hitam, gave a detailed explanation of what happened, in order to expose “the activities of certain elements, groups and individuals who were abusing and exploiting Islam and the Islamic resurgence for personal or political ends”.
On returning to Malaysia after studying in Cairo and Tripoli in Libya, Ibrahim worked as a pendakwah (missionary) financed by the Libyan government, while attached to the Religious Division in the Prime Minister’s Department. But he soon resigned from his post to be active in politics. He joined PAS and stood for elections in 1978 and 1982, but lost on both occasions.
The White Paper alleges that after this, Ibrahim began zealously explaining and instilling the spirit of jihad (holy war) and syahid (martyrdom) among party members and supporters.
At the same time, says the White Paper, PAS leaders were also urging members to dub others as infidels and to boycott fellow Muslims in Umno whom they branded as kafir (infidels). They refused to pray in the same mosque with Umno members.
Ibrahim’s “Islamic extremism” within the Memali community eventually alarmed the authorities, who felt his activities should be nipped.
The first police operation to arrest and detain Ibrahim under the Internal Security Act took place at 1am on Sept 2, 1984 at his house in Kampung Memali. It was aborted because of strong opposition from 100 Ibrahim followers. Ibrahim stayed behind locked doors and refused to come out when asked to give himself up.
Ibrahim soon went into hiding for about a month–and–a half, and then returned to his house. His supporters set up a system around his house to protect him.
The police made five more attempts throughout 1984 and up to Nov 10, 1985 to persuade Ibrahim to give up peacefully, but to no avail. Events reached a climax on Nov 19, 1985 when a total of 576 police personnel were deployed. The group that moved in from Baling was obstructed by women and children armed with sharpened bamboos and wooden sticks.
When the police approached Ibrahim’s house, they were suddenly shot at with firearms, resulting in an inspector and a sergeant being killed on the spot. A constable was seriously wounded and died afterwards.
The police then used an armoured car to break down the gate of Ibrahim’s house.
“To defend themselves and to thwart the attacks, the police ultimately had to use firearms,” says the White Paper. “Eight of the attackers, including Ibrahim Mahmood, were killed in the yard of the house. Four other supporters of Ibrahim Mahmood were killed by the gate of his house. Another was killed at the back of Ibrahim’s house when he and several of his followers attempted to attack the police personnel surrounding the house.”
PAS, in a statement read out in Parliament, dissociated itself from the incident, saying Ibrahim acted on his own.