PETALING JAYA: It was the Royal Malaysia Police who ordered the Operasi Lalang in 1987 for national security, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as he clapped back at his critics blaming him for the infamous episode.
In a statement on Wednesday (March 22), Dr Mahathir pointed to a video released in 2011 and noted that former inspector-general of police Tun Hanif Omar said it was he who had directed the police to carry out Ops Lalang despite Dr Mahathir refusing it.
In the video, Hanif said the operation was an attempt by the police to restore order in the country after a soldier named Private Adam Jaafar ran amok in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur, armed with an assault rifle on Oct 17, 1987.
"Ops Lalang happened when I was Prime Minister. I did not order it.
"A Prime Minister has to listen to the police. They are responsible for the security of the nation. Their opinions and advice cannot be simply brushed aside," Dr Mahathir said in the statement posted on social media.
The 97-year-old leader said the parties in Pakatan Harapan had always blamed him for Ops Lalang but would gladly accept him as a colleague and their prime minister candidate when it served their objectives.
"During the time I was the fourth prime minister, Anwar had weekly demonstrations and I did not stop him.
"But now that he is Prime Minister he does not allow Malays to even discuss the problems that they face," he said, referring to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is now PKR president and Pakatan chairman.
Dr Mahathir said the pro-Malay gathering which was cancelled last week was not to blame other races for the Malay's misfortunes, but to blame crooked Malay leaders who did not help the Malays to overcome poverty.
"If we cannot find a solution for the problems faced by the Malays, then we must assume that it is the government's wish to promote poverty among Malays.
"This bias against the Malays is a manifestation of the racism of the government. It is sedition because it is against the constitution of our country," he added.
On Sunday, Dr Mahathir denounced Anwar as an “oppressive leader” after his attempt to hold the pro-Malay gathering in the city failed to materialise following the booking cancellations of three venues.
The former prime minister said the cancellations were uncalled for as the organisers had only wanted to get together and sign a proclamation on the situation of the Malays in the country.
Dr Mahathir's remarks courted brickbats from leaders, including former Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto, who wrote about her experience as the daughter of a DAP leader, P. Patto, who was taken in under Ops Lalang. She said she held the former prime minister, also then the home minister, responsible for Ops Lalang.