Hanif backs Mahathir's claim on Operasi Lalang:
"You can't blame him. He is right. As a matter of fact, it was entirely the police's decision. It was not his (Mahathir's) decision. Mahathir was actually opposed to it... He was against Ops Lalang," said Hanif.
In the 1987 crackdown on Oct 27, 106 people - mostly opposition and a handful of MCA and Umno politicians - were arrested under the Internal Security Act while the publishing permits for The Star and Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan were revoked.
However, Hanif added that it was Mahathir's responsibility as the home minister to sign the detention orders once the first 60-day detention provided for under the Internal Security Act expired.
While most of the detainees in the Ops Lalang were released either conditionally or unconditionally, 40 were issued two-year detention orders, including then DAP secretary-general Lim Kit Siang and party deputy chairman Karpal Singh.
Mahathir did not order the crackdown but he did sign the 2-year detention orders to keep a few top opposition leaders including the opposition leader Lim Kit Siang in Kamunting.
Second, it is near impossible for Mahathir to completely wash off his hands because it was him who revoked the permits for several local newspapers.
Hanif may be one of the most respected and credible IGPs in the country but his argument that the police force were independent of political influence is rather unconvincing. If so, why didn't the police arrest some UMNO youth leaders including the current PM Najib? In response, Umno held a counter protest, where notably then-Youth chief Najib Abdul Razak led a mammoth rally in Kampung Baru days prior to the arrests.
Both Mahathir and Hanif's statements cemented the need to abolish the ISA to avoid it being abused as a political tool to detain detractors and to implement the IPCMC to monitor the police force conduct.