Saturday, April 23, 2011

We rescued 2 hostages in Pudu

Datuk Zaman Khan says the raid ended swiftly
One of the captured men, Ng Lai Huat, being taken to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital after the raid. A medical check-up revealed only superficial injuries.

Datuk Zaman Khan speaking to reporters after successfully directing the rescue operation.

Two bomoh offered their services to subdue the criminals but were unsuccessful.

"I THOUGHT I was being invited to Tun Hanif Omar's house for dinner after I was summoned back from a conference in Singapore by the former inspector-general of police.

"Thinking it was a small and informal get-together, I dressed casually. Little did I realise what was in store for me.

"When I arrived at Tun Hanif's house, there was no dinner waiting for me but a group of police officers in a serious meeting with him. I was summoned to join the meeting," recalled Datuk Zaman Khan.

Zaman, who was then police director of internal security and public order, found out that he was to lead a crack team of about 30 officers to resolve the Pudu Prison hostage crisis that lasted for six days 25 years ago.

Dr Radzi Jaafar and hospital assistant Abdul Azizi Abdul Majid were held hostage by inmates in the prison clinic on the morning of Oct 17, 1986, during a routine medical check-up on the prisoners.

The captors were Singaporean Jimmy Chuah Chap Seng and locals Ng Lai Huat, Sin Ah Lau, Lam Hock Seng, Yap Chee Keong and Phang Boon Ho -- who were remanded for violating the Firearms Act.

The hardcore criminals were not happy over the charges and sentences against them and were armed with sharpened shoe heels and other sharp weapons.

They made some ludicrous demands, such as getaway vehicles and also cash from the police, failing which they threatened to harm the two hostages.

Zaman said of the six, one was a scapegoat roped in by the mastermind, Chuah.

"After the briefing at Tun Hanif's house, we proceeded in his car to the prison. Nobody knew I was in the car with him that night because his car was heavily tinted. In the car, he told me to end the hostage crisis as soon as possible.

"We gathered at the prison canteen, which became our operations centre and I worked alongside ACP A. Navaratnam, who was the commander of the Special Operations Forces, and also the Prisons Department director-general, Datuk Ibrahim Mohamed.

"We discussed many things including the best way to raid the clinic, as well as the possibility of adding drugs into the captors' food to knock them out.

"The latter was ruled out because usually the captors would feed the hostages first.

"We couldn't take that risk and instead worked on tiring out the captors. As the days passed, the public started getting anxious. Hordes of people waited outside Pudu Prison every day, eager to find out what was going on inside.

"The high-rise buildings in the neighbourhood became watch towers for the public. The other prisoners there could see what we were doing and planning in the canteen.

"At one point, they got noisy so we had to get the prison officials to clear them from the neighbouring blocks.

"Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was supposed to leave on an official overseas trip, stayed on in the federal capital to ensure the matter was resolved without bloodshed. This was conveyed to us by Tun Hanif.

"The crisis continued for days, and all those involved worked round-the-clock, surviving on one or two hours of sleep. None of us went home and we ate, showered and slept in the prison canteen.

Two bomoh offered their services to subdue the captors but they were unsuccessful.

On Oct 22, there was a breakthrough.

"Our contact inside the prison informed us that the clinic door was ajar and that the captors were napping.

"We had to act fast. We gathered at the canteen to map our entry and discuss how to get the captors to back off during the raid as we didn't want any harm to befall the hostages.

"Our boys from the Special Action Squad were armed with rattan canes. Some had sidearms.

"The instruction was not to fire any shot but to contain the captors with the canes by pushing them away from the hostages.

"Before storming the prison clinic, I said a silent prayer to ensure that the operation would go off without a hitch. We then stormed the clinic and I was the third or fourth person behind.

"It happened so fast and in the blink of an eye, both hostages were taken out by the special forces. The captors were floored by the raiding party.

"The criminals were too startled to react and were outnumbered two to one. They tried to put up a fight but were subdued.

"Dr Radzi, who was a diabetic, was slightly injured with a gash on the cheek.

"The operation was a success because no one was seriously injured.

"The public, who had gathered outside the prison and also in nearby buildings, were somewhat disappointed that the crisis ended so quickly. They wanted high drama."

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