Mahathir should apologise to all the 108 Operation Lalang detainees under the ISA

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was reported in the media as denying that he was responsible for the infamous Operation Lalang in 1987 where 108 persons were detained under the draconian detention-without-trial Internal Security Act for him to consolidate political control and power in government, Umno and Barisan Nasional.

Nanyang Siang Pau today even quoted Mahathir as disclaiming that he was Home Minister at the time of Operation Lalang, claiming that at the time he was in China and the Home Minister was one "Musa".

Mahathir was talking rubbish. He is not only guilty of selective amnesia when it suits him, as when he told the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Videotape scandal that he could not remember anything about the incidents related to the scandal of the fixing of judicial appointments, he has now shown that he is capable of telling downright lies to disclaim responsibility for the human rights violations perpetrated during his time as Prime Minister and Home Minister.

Mahathir can tell lies without batting an eyelid about the history of his premiership but he cannot change history at his whims and fancies. It is indisputable that Mahathir was the Home Minister during the Operation Lalang crackdown in 1987 and there was no "Musa" at the time acting as Home Minister.

Tun Musa Hitam, who will be celebrating his 80th birthday in two months' time, was the first Home Minister in Mahathir's premiership, serving from 1981-1986, until he broke ranks with Mahathir resigning both as Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister.

In April 1987, Musa had teamed up with Tengku Razaleigh to challenge Mahathir-Ghafar Baba for the posts of UMNO President-Deputy President, with Razaleigh losing by a mere 43 votes after a power blackout and election hanky-panky which later resulted in UMNO being declared an unlawful political party by the courts.

As far as my memory could recall, Mahathir was never in China before the Operation Lalang crackdown. He was in Vancouver in Canada for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) before the Operation Lalang ISA mass arrests.

It is most unworthy and even cowardly of Mahathir to deny that he was responsible for the most infamous violation of human rights in the Operation Lalang ISA crackdown in 1987, made doubly worse by his attempt even to deny that he was Home Minister.

In fact after his rift with Musa Hitam, Mahathir never trusted anyone else as Home Minister for the next 14 years, keeping the reins of the Home Ministry to himself (which was the cause of the origin of the Project Mahathir where over a million illegal immigrants in Sabah were unlawfully issued citizenship or voter status, changing the course of demography and politics in Sabah and even Malaysia), until December 1999, when he appointed Abdullah Badawi as Home Minister.

Mahathir should apologise to all the 108 Operation Lalang detainees under the ISA for the Ops Lalang as he could not shirk responsibility for the dragnet especially as he was Home Minister at the time.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah