Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 15th February 2011:
Mahathir should make a greater effort to remember his astounding meeting before Operation Lalang mass arrests where he allegedly “met all of the opposition members and assured them that they would not be arrested” and come out with eye-witness accounts
Yesterday, despite denials by DAP National Chairman and MP for Bukit Gelugor Karpal Singh (who was one of the seven DAP MPs detained by Tun Mahathir's Ministerial order in 1987) and I that there had been such a meeting or assurance before the Operation Lalang crackdown, the former Prime Minister stuck to his version, saying:
"This happened 20 years ago. I remember distinctly having the meeting. I don't really remember the faces of those who were there, but I am quite certain that Karpal Singh was not there and that Lim Kit Siang was there."
This is most untypical of Mahathir, who is credited with elephantine memory except when for political reasons he chose to be a victim of amnesia – as during his 90-minute testimony before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Videotape Scandal in January 2008 where he said “I cannot remember” or its equivalent 14 times!
Could it be possible that he had “met all of the opposition members and assured them that they would not be arrested” and he could not remember their faces except mine – or when, where or who else from his side who were present or party to the meeting?
Mahathir should make a greater effort to remember this astounding meeting before Operation Lalang mass arrests where he allegedly “met all of the opposition members and assured them that they would not be arrested” – not only the who, but all other details as to the where, when and how the meeting came about, together with eye-witness accounts.
There is no reason why any Opposition leader should hide the truth of such a meeting and assurance of no-ISA detentions if they had actually happened, for it would have been the chief reason for the ISA detainees and the civil society to argue against their detention in national and international campaigns – but which was never used during the entire Operation Lalang period as nobody knew about it.
I had mentioned that after my Operation Lalang release from Kamunting Detention Centre in May 1989, I had met Mahathir in the Prime Minister’s Office where I had asked him point-blank why the Umno Youth leader, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had not been detained for escalating the racial tensions in the country in Oct. 1987 while innocent ones were made victims of Operation Lalang.
The first question I would have popped to Mahathir at that meeting would be to ask him why he had broken his word why he had failed to honour his assurance to opposition leaders that there would be no ISA detentions, if Mahathir had indeed met with opposition leaders and given such an assurance before the launch of Operation Lalang.
This speaks volumes and the more interesting question is why Mahathir is now trying to rewrite history to clear himself of the infamy of the Operation Lalang mass crackdown.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor