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Fwd: MGG - The Grik Arms Heist: Curiouser And Curiouser It
By web aNtu

20/8/2000 8:09 am Sun

[sangkancil] [MGG] The Grik Arms Heist: Curiouser And Curiouser It

The Greek arms heist becomes curiouser and curiouser. The defence ministry's load-bearing advertising campaign for the Pajero four-wheel drive vehicle apart, 97 a#sault rifles, 13,000 rounds of ammunition of different calibre, 180 M-16 magazines, five M203 grenade launchers, general purpose machine guns, tripods, ammunition boxes andn other military equipment were loaded on to three vehicles in four minutes. So successful indeed the defence minister, Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak, mentioned it to the visiting Singapore senior minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, to the latter's amazement, as he said at his less-than-discreet press conference on Wednesday. Four minutes, the man crowed. But it was enacted in broad daylight, after much practice. If the defence ministry wanted to prove what it set out to do, it should have been done in pre-dawn light in stealth and speed. Four minutes would not be enough, unless the "criminals" had as many weeks of practice as the soldiers who re-enacted the scene for an appreciative crowd of journalists and Mitsubishi officials, and had as much light as the mid-afternoon sun at 0530 in the morning.

The re-enactment is sub judice, since the 29 fellows involved are on trial for treason. Only the judge can order a re-enactment in situ and then only when the trial is in progress. The trial has not even started. Why did the cabinet then order the arms heist re-enacted, especially when it made monkeys of the army establishment? Is it to counter the different versions the accused might say in court? The authorities have seized a latter one accused wrote to his father which suggests official collusion in what happened. It seems the ex-army personnel were told they were to raid the army posts and battalion headquarters to test their security perimeters, and the guns taken were to be tested for battle readiness, which apparently they were doing in Bukit Jenelik, when they were raided and caught, and now charged with treason.

Not known is who decided upon this. The official version wears thin by the day. The government tries to raise the spectre of fundamentalist Islam on its own terms. It does not want a debate. It does not want a contrary view. All it demands that what it says, however improbably, must be the only truth. But the days when it could demand absolute obedience from the people, who could gladly have sworn to high heaven that black is white because the Prime Minister says so, have long gone. Questions are demanded. None is forthcoming. The minister would not allow opposition leaders invited to engage in debate; they correctly stayed away, even if they should not have accepted the invitation in the first place. But this is curious. As curious as the army field commander involved in the arms heist exercise accusing the opposition of treachery. A What Paper is promised. With the cabinet and the defence minister confused, can one be presented to Parliament which provides a cogent explanation of what happened? Probably not.

As I wrote two days ago, on Thursday, 17 August 00: "The government clearly is nervous about the trial: the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah, unusually, justifies why he decided to charge them with treason, the police held the hands of relatives, solicitous to the point that make one remark that the police are at their best behaviour against those who wage war against the King. But the political fallout of ten or more sentenced to death -- as all 29 would have if charged under the Arms Act -- is unacceptable. However one looks at it, the government is caught in a bind. They cannot go free nor can they be hanged, nor indeed could they be acquitted. Each option alienates one major section of the community. Which is why officials are nervous that Mr Karpal Singh defends a few of the accused." More than every, a full and detailed official statement should be released. As it is, few even doubt if the raids did take place. It does seem clear they did, but not as the government said they were.

M.G.G. Pillai