Wednesday, 13 March 2013 11:25
Najib & govt blamed for high loss of lives: Admit failure & apologize to the people - ex-gen
Retired army general Abdul Ghafir Abdul Hamid ticked off Prime Minister Najib Razak's administration for interfering with the military operations in Lahad Datu, accusing it of having contributed to the heavy loss of lives.
"This is no time for politicians to interfere in the operations.. There must not be any politicians to be seen at the scene of the operations. There must be clear command structure," Lt Gen (B) AbduL Ghafir Abdul Hamid told a press conference on Wednesday.
He demanded that the government apologize to the Malaysian people and in particular the families of the victims. The Lahad Datu intrusion has claimed the lives of 10 Malaysian security forces and more than 60 foreign gunmen.
Ghafir also alleged that in the past decade, the Defence Staff Intelligence Division had been more focused on local politics than on gathering information on external threats.
“I stress here, there was a total and complete failure of intelligence. Our intelligence unit has not been functioning until now. Our capability in terms of external foreign intelligence, our strength and assets have instead been used for political operations since 2000. When intelligence fails, we have a breach of our waters,” he said.
The government must admit failure: Apologize to the people and the families
The Lahad Datu debacle began last month when a group of some 200 armed men claiming to be members of the Sulu Sultan's army slipped through Malaysia's security lines, landing by boats in Lahad Datu in East Malaysian state of Sabah.
Only after 3 weeks had lapsed, and amid pressure from the public and the Opposition, did the Najib administration mount a police raid to flush out the gunmen. Two police men were killed in the March 1 offensive, which raised even greater public concern that the government was mishandling the situation by using the police, who are not trained for jungle attacks, and not the military.
A few days, Najib ordered a joint military and police offensive, using Hawk and F18 jet fighters to bomb a 4kim-square area. This resulted in the deaths of 6 Malaysian security forces.
Despite the heaving bombing, it appears most of the gunmen managed to escape. In another violent skirmish on Tuesday, a soldier was killed during a gunfight. Another died in an accident involving an armed convoy.
"We must all admit there has been failure on the part of the government. The government must admit. They must apologize to the people and of course the families of those who died," said Ghafir.
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 11:35
BANGKIT LAH! Azmin calls on M'sians: Don't let Najib arrest Anwar & make a mockery of Lahad DatuWritten by Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle
PKR deputy president Azmin Ali confirmed that his party was concerned their adviser, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, might be arrested and made a scapegoat by Prime Minister Najib Razak's government for the failure and high loss of lives in an ongoing security operation to flush out armed militants in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
"This (arresting Anwar) is not something new. Only this time we ask the people to rise up - bangkit lah - and give a strong warning to the government - don't play politics with national security," Azmin told a press conference on Tuesday.
Later on the sidelines of the conference, Azmin told Malaysia Chronicle it was clear from the massive public support for the Bersih movement for free and fair polls that Malaysians wanted a clean election.
The people would not tolerate any conspiracies that might be hatched "in the last mile" by the ruling Umno-BN coalition to cling to power, he added. He was confident that Umno-BN could no longer resort to strong-arm tactic to quell the opposition as it had done in the past.
"For 15 years we have lived under the shadow of fear so much so we are no longer afraid. We are very confident the people will not allow themselves to be deceived by such atrocious politicking. This is the ultimate in the Umno-BN's politics of dishonesty and deceit," said Azmin.
Azmin called up by MCMC over Sabah RCI
He pointed out that he had been called to lodge his statement with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission in Cyberjaya at 2pm.
"My lawyers called the MCMC and we were told it is related to the Sabah RCI. Exactly how, we will have to wait and see. To us, what is clear is an overall concerted effort to go after the PKR and Pakatan Rakyat leaders," said Azmin.
At a press conference in January, Azmin who is also the Gombak MP, had branded former premier Mahathir Mohamad a "traitor" over the alleged citizenship-for-votes project in Sabah state.
The Project I.C. or Project M (for Mahathir) has been condemned by Sabahans for decades. They blame it for the surge in population that has shrunk their economic pie and reduced their living standards.
The instability arising from the invasion of a small village in Lahad Datu by armed foreign gunmen and the consequent revenge killings have also been attributed to Project M.
Many Sabahans say the scheme had allowed hundreds of thousands of illegal workers of Filipino and Indonesian descent to live in Malaysia although the loyalties of some were still with their country of birth.
Key witnesses at a Royal Commission of Inquiry held to probe the Project M had testified that the orders to offer citizenship had come from Mahathir's aides.
“We truly understand this represents a planned effort headed by the then prime minister (left), and to me he is a traitor to the country for given identity cards (IC) to foreigners just to shore up Umno’s political power,” Malaysiakini had reported Azmin as saying.
The only way - vote out Umno at GE13
Meanwhile, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli, who first revealed the Opposition's concern of an Anwar arrest to Malaysia Chronicle, denounced the Umno-led government for using the MCMC to pressure PR leaders.
"While it is the MCMC's right to question or initiate action, the double standard is too obvious. The MCMC should focus on facilitating a free and fast Malaysian cyberspace that is not entangled or used as yet another tool for oppression although the fault lies with Umno, which continuously exerts pressure on MCMC to sabotage the Opposition leaders," Rafizi told Malaysia Chronicle.
"While I have issues with the MCMC's inability to stand independently, getting rid of Umno is the only way to fix this."
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 18:03
FIRST SOLDIER KILLED: Najib blamed for "politicking" & not focusing on Sabah crisis as death toll climbsWritten by Maria Begum, Malaysia Chronicle
The death of a soldier, the first casualty for the Malaysian army, has dealt a fresh blow to Prime Minister Najib Razak's administration, which is already struggling to overcome mounting criticism that the heavy death toll could have been avoided if not for his slow and heavy-handed "mishandling".
On Tuesday afternoon, Armed Forces chief Zulkifeli Mohd Zin confirmed that Private Mohd Hurairah, who hailed from Kelantan, had been killed at 7.45am during a mopping-up exercise to flush out Sulu militants in the area.
"They had a gun fight with five armed men who then retreated," Zulkifeli told a press conference about 15km from where the shootings occurred. In the shootout, 3 Sulu gunmen were killed.
Bungling Najib has to take responsibility for the high casualties
This brings the Malaysian death toll to 9. Eight police officers were killed in previous skirmishes with the gunmen, who had slipped past a lax security system to land by boats in Lahad Datu earlier last month.
The group of some 200 gunmen, who claim to have been sent by the Sulu Sultan to reclaim Sabah, hade refused to leave despite several attacks by the Malaysian security forces to flush and eject them from the state. So far, more than 60 gunmen have been killed.
Tan Kee Kwong, a former deputy minister who frequently visited Felda Sahabat settlement in Lahad Datu, minced no words in castigating Najib's "misreading" of the situation.
"Najib misread the whole situation. His timing was all out. Firstly, he negotiated with them and called them intruders when he should have right from the start treated them as being a potential danger to our people and our forces. It was only after the first 2 policemen were killed that the Malaysian government suddenly call the Sulu gunmen militants. Now they are pointing the finger at everyone except for themselves," Kee Kwong, who is now a senior leader with Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's PKR party.
"I have no qualms in saying this because I have been to the Felda Sahabat camp at least 5 times. The terrain there is flat. It is easy to contain if right from the start, Najib had listened to advice and sent the marines to blockade the waters. Then send in the Vat 69 (commandos), get the police to cordon off the area to protect the neighboring villages and bring in the army with heavy artillery to form another ring after the police. Cut off water and food. Let me tell you, as a medical doctor, no one can survive without water for 7 days. Run down the resistance of the enemy and then attack, not simply send in the police who should not have been deployed to raid the village in the first place."
Gunmen still at large, but Najib is busy "politicking"
According to Kee Kwong, due to the delay - as Najib had only acted 3 weeks after the gunmen landed - it is no longer easy to resolve the crisis as they seem to have succeeded in escaping tight police and army cordons as well as a heavy bombing exercise that was carried out last week.
"Now the gunmen seem to be all over the area and mind you, this is after the bombing by the F18 and Hawk fighter jets. Our Armed Forces are doing the best they can under the circumstances but when you have a fool at the head, it is very difficult to pick up the pieces. This is what is now happening. Najib should be going all out to focus on resolving the crisis in Sabah, but what we see is that he is still busy politicking for the general elections. He is even politicizing the incident so as to blame Anwar and score points for himself."
Kee Kwong's views were echoed by DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, who also criticized Najib for interfering in the military's work.
"I have no doubt if the top security forces had been allowed a free hand to deal with the Sulu armed invasion, recognizing them from the start as 'militants' instead of having to put up with the political leadership’s categorization branding them as 'intruders - neither militants nor terrorists', the 8 police national heroes who were killed in Lahad Datu and Semporna would still be alive today and the Sabah Sulu crisis would have ended swiftly, surgically and even peacefully, instead of being dragged out for a month , involving protracted negotiations, stand-offs and shoot-outs, with no end yet in sight, and with such a heavy cost in human lives among the security forces," said Kit Siang in a statement released this afternoon.