Former Minister Claims Security Forces Fighting In 2013 Sabah Incursion Was Just A 'Play'
Former tourism, arts, and culture minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi is in hot water for allegedly insulting Malaysian security forces who fought during the 2013 Lahad Datu incursion by Sulu militants
In a viral two-minute-and-31-second-long video, Mohammadin can be heard saying that the fight between 235 militants from the Philippines and the Malaysian army was just a 'theatre play'.
He says the tragedy in Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu seven years ago was just a war with 'chickens' and 'dogs', and that the authorities at that time deployed a strong force to fight a war that did not exist.
The Silam Member of Parliament (MP) was speaking at a ceramah while campaigning for the 16th Sabah elections (PRN).
"So there was a supposed war in Tanduo. It led the jet coming to Tanduo and bombed the residents' oil palm (farms). The oil palm farms were burnt, people's houses were burnt. Residents' homes were torn by bullets. That is a fact," the Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) candidate said.
"After that, the tanks were told to enter the villages and tell them to fight with the chickens. Which friend were they fighting? None. The dogs and the chickens were at war at their friend's village."
He claims the war was created to ensure that Barisan Nasional (BN) could win the 13th General Election in the state.
The 2013 attack was launched by militants serving Jamalul Kiram III, one of the claimants to the throne of the Sultanate of Sulu.
Their objective was to assert the unresolved territorial claim of the Philippines to eastern Sabah.
The standoff lasted over a month and recorded 72 deaths, 56 of which were intruders, while 10 were Malaysian security personnel and six were civilians, reported New Straits Times.
The rest of the militants were either captured or escaped back to the Philippines.
Mohamaddin's statement has upset many parties - not just the ruling government but also the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM)
In a statement last night, 21 September, ATM said Mohamaddin's claim "belittles the duties and responsibilities" of security forces in defending the country's sovereignty at that time.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has apologised on Mohamaddin's behalf over the latter's comment even though they are on different political sides, reported Sinar Harian.
"On behalf of Mohamaddin Ketapi, I would like to apologise to the families and descendants of our heroes who were killed in Tanduo, Lahad Datu," said Hishammuddin, who was serving as the home minister in 2013.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was the prime minister during the conflict, also commented on the issue, saying that the Silam MP's statement was a "huge insult" to the national heroes.
The issue sparked a heated censure online, with many netizens posting photos of the 10 Malaysian security personnel who died defending the country
Some viral posts even pointed out that Mohamaddin also insulted frontliners after eastern Sabah had been declared as a red zone.
According to them, Mohamaddin said the government declared the area as a red zone so that it will discourage electorates from coming out to vote in the PRN.
Following the public backlash, Mohamaddin offered his apology, but not before asserting that the video was taken out of context
He said the speech was made in reference to BN that was governing the country at the time and that it was not meant to insult ATM.
In a statement yesterday, Mohamaddin added that it was BN’s failure to ensure the safety of the nation's borders that in part contributed to the intrusion.
"I wish to clarify that my comments during campaigning were misunderstood, as I have never belittled or insulted our security forces who fought to the death to defend the nation's sovereignty from intruders," he said.
"In fact, the entire video ought to have been played in full, and not just highlighting that specific part, which I condemn as a dirty game by certain parties to besmirch Warisan."
"Nonetheless, I wish to apologise if the maliciously-viralled video has offended or caused hurt to the security forces as a whole."