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Tian Chua becomes Najib’s fall guy

 | March 8, 2013

No one is dishonouring the memory of the brave men who died defending Sabahans from invaders, but our leaders appear to be largely responsible for the debacle.

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Many lives might have been saved if Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had apprehended the armed Suluks in Lahad Datu, with the same speed as taking legal action against the vice-president of PKR, Tian Chua.

On March 1, Tian Chua allegedly defamed Umno in an article on KeadilanDaily.com, entitled, “Shooting Incident in Lahad Datu Umno’s Planned Conspiracy — Tian”. Four days later, on March 5, Najib instructed Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor to take legal action against Tian Chua for linking Umno to the armed intrusion in Lahad Datu.

Tengku Adnan said, “This is because the accusation is baseless and very serious with the evil intention of damaging Umno’s image, reputation and credibility.”

Malaysians are already aware of Umno’s tarnished image, its terrible reputation and questionable credibility. Will Umno go after every individual who speaks ill of the party?

No one is dishonouring the memory of the brave men who died defending Sabahans from invaders, but our leaders appear to be largely responsible for the debacle.

It is common knowledge that our shores and borders are porous, but the government appears to have no remedy.

In the past weeks, illegal immigrants who are accustomed to living and working without hindrance throughout Malaysia are exercising more caution. In Sabah, they are staying away from their usual stalls and the corners where they normally trade. This security crisis has forced the police and immigration staff to be more conscientious in the checking of Identity Cards and other identification papers – in the past, they were very lax.

Marine patrols were increased following the kidnap of two Malaysians last November. It is a fact that there are several layers of intelligence and security surveillance, so how could more than 100 armed and uniformed militants enter Lahad Datu unchallenged? The apparent lapse in security lends credence to a conspiracy theory.

The timing

Another factor which goes against Umno is the timing. The breach in security happened in the critical days before the announcement of GE-13. Najib’s popularity has dropped recently and it is widely believed that his intelligence services have predicted a crushing defeat for Umno.

A declaration of emergency rule would suspend elections and in that period, some political pundits claim that Najib would initiate all measures, both legal and illegal, to ensure a win.

Can anyone blame the talk of an Umno drama? Even the Election Commission (EC) chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof has warned of a postponement of elections in selected areas.

Details of Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s “Project M” were disclosed in the Sabah Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI), and confirmed the suspicions of many Malaysians. Sabahans began to look on each other with fear, apprehension and mistrust.

Mahathir’s admission is tantamount to treason, but no Umno leader has censured him. Tian Chua may have been guilty of insensitivity, but Sabah’s predicament was caused by one power-hungry, crazed former PM, Mahathir, who gave the nation away.

Najib ordered a probe into Anwar Ibrahim’s alleged links with this incursion. He is trying to discredit the opposition, so why is Tian Chua being sued for defamation?

Mahathir caused outrage when he intimated that the slow response of the armed forces was because Muslim militants were involved and Muslim blood should not be spilt.

When news of 100 armed and uniformed men first broke, Malaysians feared the worst, but Najib continued his electioneering in peninsular Malaysia. Najib preferred to play politics and disregard the escalating hostilities.

Najib erred but did not dare admit his guilt and apologise for taking weeks to act. He and his ministers travel with security cordons; their homes are well guarded. They have no sense of urgency and are totally disconnected from the man on the street.

Najib ordered a news blackout and journalists were prevented from entering the area. So we sourced the papers in Manila for details about the incursion. Why should Najib blame people for incriminating Umno? Najib is to be blamed for hiding the truth.

To this day, we are not privy to the demands of the Suluk militants. There have been allegations that Najib had promised the militants land for resettlement. When he allegedly reneged on his deal, Lahad Datu was invaded. It is ironical that Najib was on a BN propaganda drive in Perlis promoting another “Janji-ditepati” stunt, whilst in Sabah, the Suluks invaded because Najib allegedly broke his “janji” to them.

Horrible truth

In the end, the RMAF’s weapons were unleashed on the hide-out. These well-armed, trained and disciplined militants are adept at guerilla warfare and disappeared into the undergrowth, much like the Vietcong in the Vietnam war. At the end of the firestorm, around 50 bodies were recovered. Some people have expressed scepticism about the captured militants who were paraded for the press.

One person said, “The detainees wore gleaming white shirts with no marks or tears. One even wore a BN shirt. The men did not show any signs of being holed up for four weeks. They did not appear to be disheveled, unkempt or even battle weary. They do not fit the picture of seasoned mercenaries.”

Another observer said, “The Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen did not deter tourists from Sabah and claimed that the Sabah Tourist Board was getting 12 hourly updates. What about relaying this news to the rakyat? Many of us have family and friends in that part of the world. Yen-Yen’s announcement goes against the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office warning to stay away from the east coast of Sabah, unless for essential travel.”

Najib has only himself to blame for making people believe that Umno is linked to this incursion. He ordered a news black-out. His ministers were slow to act. Tony Blair took his country into the Gulf War on the strength of a lie – Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.

The militants’ presence was revealed a month ago but Najib did not see fit to boost troop and police morale, or more importantly, reassure the Sabahans with a visit. One political observer has alleged that Najib thought a visit was not necessary because it was a put-up job that he arranged.

Najib did not think the matter was of sufficient moment to discuss in parliament. It was only after hell was unleashed on the Felda settlements, and seven battalions dropped into the area, that Najib came for a photo-opportunity with the soldiers.

Najib would like to think that the image of a conquering hero is enough to boost support for BN in GE-13.

His optimism is premature because when the smell of propellant has gone, he would still have to answer some simple questions: Who did not take care of national security? Who allowed illegal immigrants in? Who distributed MyKads and citizenships as freely as BR1M handouts? Whose prevarication cost the lives of many security personnel?

There is much about this incursion that Umno has hidden from public scrutiny but the horrible truth would eventually emerge, no matter how hard Najib may strive to hide it.

Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.


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