In November 1985, 200 policemen laid siege to Kampung Memali, in remote Baling district in Kedah state, near the Thai border.

They wanted to arrest Ibrahim Mahmud, known widely as Ibrahim Libya, a fiery preacher who was also a local leader of opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).

Ibrahim had been accused of “deviant teachings” and he was to be arrested under the tough Internal Security Act. He received part of his education at the University of Tripoli in Libya, hence the nickname.

The villagers, many of whom were padi farmers, blocked the road leading to the village with logs and other objects. Some were said to be armed with parang (machetes) and other weapons to resist the arrest.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who became prime minister in 1981, was reported then to be in China, and the operation 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 at the time of the incident.

Four policemen and 14 villagers, including Ibrahim, were killed, when the police moved in. Dozens of others were arrested by the police.

Now widely dubbed Insiden Memali, or the Memali Incident, it remains one of the bloodiest clashes involving Malaysians and the Malaysian police. PAS calls it Tragedi Memali or the Memali Tragedy.

Mr Musa was blamed for the deaths.

PAS declared Ibrahim Libya a martyr.

Sources: extracted from the Straits Times, dated 17 Aug 2017


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