Thugs paid RM150k and hired by lawyers to cause temple riot

A sum of RM150,000 was given to the leader of the group to storm, take over and guard the temple

By SHAZNI ONG / Pic By BERNAMA & MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Lawyers linked to a developer had hired thugs to take ownership of the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Subang Jaya, leading to a riot which injured several law enforcement officers and torched scores of vehicles, the government revealed yesterday.

I would like to stress that the clash incident at the temple is not related to racial issue, says Minister Muhyiddin. (pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL/TMR)

Home Minister said the lawyers had paid a group of Malay thugs to siege and secure the temple before the arrivals of both the developer and the police on the morning of Nov 26, 2018.

He said RM150,000 was given to the leader of the group to storm, take over and guard the temple.

“Some 50 people were paid to do the work where each of them would receive a payment amounting between RM150 and RM300,” he said at a press conference in Putrajaya yesterday.

Muhyiddin said the irresponsible and unlawful actions had stirred anger among the Hindu devotees who were present at the temple, subsequently leading to the commotion, fight and property destruction.

“When the Malays entered the temple, obviously it will create anger among the Indians. So, you can understand the emotions triggered by those involved. For example, imagine what would happen if you send the Hindus to take care of a mosque?

“I deeply regret the hasty and careless actions taken by the parties related to the developer which are clearly against the law. If such actions had not been taken, I believe the incident between the Malay group and the Hindu devotees at the temple would not have happened,” he said. Muhyiddin said the scuffle had nothing to do with racial issues. He also dismissed the need to declare a curfew to calm the situation.

“I would like to explain that based on police investigation, the incident occurred due to the dispute between the developer, One City Development Sdn Bhd, and the committee, over the land rights of the temple itself.

“I would like to stress that the clash incident at the temple is not related to racial issue. It is unlikely that an isolated incident involving a dispute between the temple committee and the developer is a cause for racial and religious relations in our country,” he said.

Muhyiddin called the parties related to the temple relocation to settle their dispute according to the rule of law.

Police have arrested 21 people related to the incidents including two lawyers to assist in the investigation.

“The police are still conducting investigations to identify other individuals who were involved in the incident, including the group of Indians on the night of Nov 27. The second incident had caused injuries to a fireman and a policeman, besides damage to public and private properties,” he added.

When asked whether the lawyers had acted on their own or upon the instruction of the land owner, Muhyiddin said the authorities are working on the assumption that there is a link between the lawyers and developer.

“Our assumption is that they are One City lawyers and they were given an allocation. However, I doubt that the lawyers would be so generous,” he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini reported that a legal firm had denied that its lawyers had hired the group of thugs that caused the trouble at the temple.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun, who was present at the press conference, said two lawyers were among the 21 people detained over the fracas. He also said a special task force has been created to identify the perpetrators behind the rioting.

MCT Bhd, which owns One City Development, had earlier denied any involvement in the incident. MCT is currently owned by Philippine conglomerate Ayala Corp.

Meanwhile, the fireman injured during the riot has been transferred to the National Heart Institute (IJN).

Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, 24, was transferred to IJN late on Tuesday night from a medical centre in Subang Jaya.

“To date, his condition is stable, but (he is) still in (a) critical state,” IJN consultant cardiothoracic surgeon Datuk Dr Mohd Nazeri Nordin said in a statement.

Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave his assurance that the mastermind behind the riots near temple in Subang Jaya will face the full brunt of the law.

“We are trying our best to find the culprit. We do not have much evidence, but the police will conduct a thorough investigation to find out who is responsible,” he said at a press conference at IJN after visiting Muhammad Adib yesterday afternoon, according to Bernama.

“We can demonstrate, but it should be peaceful. It was not a demonstration. It was something to kill people. They came with parangs and all (kinds of) weapons,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also commented on the hiring of the Malay thugs by lawyers linked to the developer, saying: “Foreigners do not understand the culture of Malaysians. You cannot do that. If we find out who is the one who did this, I think the AG (attorney-general) and lawyers have to find some case against it.”

On Muhammad Adib’s condition, the PM said the firefighter’s heart, lungs and kidneys are still functioning, thanks to the expertise of the doctors at IJN.