TAIPING • The Malaysian government is ready to set up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to probe the Memali tragedy of 1985 if there is demand for it, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
"I will personally study all the reports on the incident," he said on Sunday.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid said that in upholding the law, all should set aside their differences.
In November 1985, 200 policemen lay siege to Kampung Memali, a remote village in Kedah state near the Thai border, to arrest Ibrahim Mahmud, a fiery preacher and a local leader of opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).
He was accused of "deviant teachings" and was to be arrested under the Internal Security Act.
But villagers, some armed with machetes, tried to block the operation. In the ensuing clash, 14 villagers and four policemen were killed and scores more injured.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was prime minister at the time, was reported then to be in China, and the controversial raid was handled by his deputy prime minister and home minister, Tun Musa Hitam.
There were conflicting reports later of whether Dr Mahathir was in Malaysia during the incident.
Mr Zahid said Mr Musa, in his book Frankly Speaking, stated that he was ordered to eliminate Kampung Memali over the violence and militancy of PAS leaders.
In this regard, Mr Zahid said the leader who said he was not in the country when the incident took place must admit that he was indeed in the country at the time.
"The Memali incident happened over two decades ago, but we have to keep in mind that the victims, families and children were denied their rights," he said.
The 1985 incident is the latest fiasco under Dr Mahathir's 22-year premiership to be dredged up by the government. He is already being investigated by a royal commission looking into billions of dollars in foreign exchange losses suffered by Bank Negara in the 1990s.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK