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CHAPTER FOURTEEN A Barrier to Political Reconstruction: A Credibility Gap THE Alliance was determined to restore normalcy with all de­ liberate speed. It would restore order; it would reconstruct the political system. Suggestions by the Opposition and specifically by Dr. Tan Chee Khoon of the Gerakan for an all-party coopera­ tive venture was rejected out of hand. The Alliance did not need them, was Tun Razak's decision; besides the Opposition was primarily responsible for all the troubles in the first place. Within the Alliance, moreover, the Directorate remained intact. Thus, when the membership of the National Operations Council was announced, the name immediately following its chairman's was Tun Tan Siew Sin, head of the MCA which just a few days earlier had officially withdrawn from the Cabinet.1 Tun Sambanthan was also included and so was Tun (Dr.) Ismail who after two years agreed to return as Minister of Home Affairs and strengthen both the government and the leadership's position in UMNO.2 Tunku Abdul Rahman was not formally a member, but that did not mean that he was excluded. He himself chose the arrangement; had he preferred he could have been the chair­ man of National Operations Council (NOC). In any case, Tun Razak was in daily communication with him and no major de­ cisions were made by the Council without the Prime Minister's consent. The National Operations Council promptly settled down to work. During the daily one to one and one half hour meetings ι Tun Tan Siew Sin's membership was considered so much a matter of routine that he was not even consulted prior to this announcement. 2 The newly appointed Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Hamzah bin Dato Abu Samah was the only other political member; the remain­ der were specialists: General Tengku Oswan bin Tengku Mohamed Jewa, Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff; Tan Sri Mohamed Salleh bin Ismael, In­ spector General of the Police; Tan Sri Abdul Kadir bin Shamsuddin, Direc­ tor of Public Services; and Tan Sri Ghazali bin Mohamed Shaffie, Perma­ nent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign AfEairs. Lieutenant-General Dato Ibra­ him bin Ismail was named Executive Officer, Kuala Lumpur, The Sunday Times, May 18, 1969. 346 A POLITICAL SYSTEM RESTORED there were few debates. The Military and police members pro­ vided estimates of the situation and at times defined their needs. They were invariably granted. Tun Razak presided; on his right sat Tun (Dr.) Ismail, Deputy-Chairman of NOC. His opinion was regularly sought, and all, even the Deputy Prime Minister, deferred to his opinion. Neither Tun Tan Siew Sin nor Tun V. T. Sambanthan entered the discussion very often. Tan Sri Kadir offered technical advice, while Hamzah bin Dato Abu Samah was trying to be helpful. The most articulate member, however, was Tan Sri Ghazali bin Shaffie. He saw his role not only as a close associate of the Prime Minister but also as the leading intellectual in the Council. Always urbane he occasionally sought to project the image of indomitable courage.3 Indeed, in forensic skill and finesse, he had few equals among senior Malays. Initially at least, most of the Council's time was devoted to matters of security. Fortunately, the violence had not spread beyond Kuala Lumpur. An incident in Malacca was quickly con­ tained. The Sultan of Perak and the new Chief Minister of Penang (not to mention the secret societies in Ipoh and Seramban ) had successfully used their influence for restraint. Even in the capital area armed clashes were rapidly declining both in size and frequency, although arson and looting continued for a while longer. NOC's strategy called first for a reduction of inter-communal contact to a controllable level through a curfew. On May 13 it was imposed around the clock, but on May 15 it was lifted for two and in some areas three hours. Three days later curfew-free hours were extended from 6:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. Post offices reopened for "restricted" business, and on Monday (May 19) the banks resumed business. Then government offices and public services returned to normal operation. Within a month curfew was limited to late night hours. Security forces, however, re­ mained in evidence. In fact, their presence day and night was intentionally dramatized by frequent road blocks and by the bluish-purple lights constantly flashing on police vehicles. Second, NOC strategy called for exemplary punishment of some of the "culprits." It was, of course, simply impossible...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400871612
MARC Record
OCLC
643628522
Pages
460
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
N
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