COLOMBO: An appalling lack of security at the airport and a corrupt Malaysian administration are blamed for the brutal assault on the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Malaysia, Ibrahim Sahib Ansar, by local Indian Tamil radicals at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on September 4.
Informed sources told Express that security at the KLIA is no lax that anyone can enter it and go up to the immigration area without any security check of their person and bags. There is no concept of VVIP security to ensure that high risk individuals are protected against demonstrators, thugs or terrorists. In fact the Sri Lankan envoy was beaten up by intruding thugs in the “No Entry” (High Security) area.
Envoy Ansar had alerted the police well in advance about a potential threat to Sri Lankan dignitaries in view of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to Kuala Lumpur to attend an international political parties’ conference. But no special security systems were put in place.
A day before the assault on him at the airport, the Malaysian police had informed the envoy of a plan to throw petrol bombs at his residence. Security at the house was stepped up but only for a day. Subsequent to the attack on him on September 4, no security was given to him despite a specific request put in by the Sri Lankan government.
As he entered the airport on September 4, High Commissioner Ansar noticed a group of people keeping an eye on him. Some of them kept following him wherever he went in the airport. Sensing something fishy, he informed airport security to keep a watch on those following him and also the gang inside and outside the airport who might be accomplices in a criminal assault. But the alert went unheeded.
At one point, Ansar felt it would be safer to enter the ‘No Entry’ (high security) zone, to enter which he and his staff has passes.But the gang followed him there too (without passes), without any let or hindrance, and began to box and kick him. The airport security staff did land up, but only to pacify the attackers and not to defend the foreign dignitary and hand over the assailants to the police.
The envoy was shocked to see CCTV footage of the assault in the social media even before it was shown to him by the police. It is suspected that the footage was leaked by some elements inside the airport establishment or the police for a consideration. While the police said that the faces of the attackers were not clear, he could clealy identify two of them.
Subsequently, five Tamils of Indian origin were identified as the attackers, and four were identified as accomplices. But only two of these were arrested and even these two have been given bail. Therefore, all the accused and suspects are roaming about freely. This is appalling to Sri Lankans because in Sri Lanka, when the majority of suspects are at large, those arrested are not granted bail.
Although the envoy has not received any threats subsequent to the assault, the promised security for himself and the mission has not materialized. Envoys of several countries, including India and the US, have taken the matter up with the Malaysian authorities. There is an apprehension in the diplomatic community in Malaysia that other diplomats might be attacked, and if security at the airport is not tightened, anything can happen in these days of terrorist strikes.
Widespread, Deep Rooted Corruption
Malaysia watchers here believe that corruption, lack of supervision and political expediency are the main reasons for incidents of this sort. Corruption is widespread and deep rooted in Malaysia. The top Malaysian leadership is not aware of what is happening at the ground level, which explains the rising crime in Kuala Lumpur. Recently, Mrs. Ansar’s chain was snatched while she was on a morning walk, and the Austrian envoy’s bag was snatched outside a shopping complex.
The Malaysian police chief did make a tough statement blaming pro-Tamil Tigers elements for the assault on the Sri Lankan envoy, and pointed out that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a banned organization in Malaysia. But the Deputy Home Minister said in parliament that the attack was “political” not “terrorist”, thus watering down the seriousness of the incident.
Although a local Indian Tamil organization drawing inspiration from the pro-LTTE Tamil Nadu politician Sabastian Seeman is blamed for the attack, the attackers have the backing of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) also. Members of the MIC’s youth wing were among those who took place in the airport fracas. It is believed that MIC is spending money to defend the suspects. And the MIC is supposedly moderate and part of the Malaysian political mainstream.
The Sri Lankan government has taken up the issue with the Malaysian government. If nothing is done to track down and punish the culprits in a reasonable period of time, Sri Lanka is likely to take up the matter up with Malaysia at the highest level on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York this month.