February 18, 2019
A commentary by Zaidi Azmi.
WHEN the inquest into the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim was announced, a minister claimed that the authorities did a swell job in handling the Sri Maha Mariamman temple riot…but did it?
“The fact that the case managed to get an inquest showed how good the authorities were in handling the case,” Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin contended last month.
One can quibble over Zuraida’s contention all day long but let’s be honest, if the authorities had really done an awesome job then shouldn’t those who had beaten up Adib be already put behind bars?
The senseless clobbering of Adib however, was not the only crime committed throughout the controversy. There were arson, armed intimidation and possible incitement to do violence.
To the unfamiliar, the Sri Maha Mariamman controversy started out as a typical land and relocation dispute between its caretakers and the lawful owner of the land – One City Development Sdn Bhd – on which the temple sits.
It then escalated into a riot, laced with racial and religious undertones, after DAP’s V.Ganabatirau claimed that a group of Muslims – who turned out to be thugs allegedly hired by One City – had encroached into and thrashed the temple.
More oil was poured onto the proverbial fire when several ministers accused the police of tardiness in protecting the temple worshippers, who were harassed by the thugs.
Afterwards, a car was set ablaze and Adib was beaten up to a pulp.
Arson. Check. Armed intimidation. Check. Possible incitement to do violence. Check. Obviously, rioting. Check.
But as it is, the only sleuthing by the police that the public was made aware of was regarding Adib’s beating. Such was so despite the fact that the police had arrested a total of 106 suspects related to the riot.
And if you think this was odd, you are not alone.
Even former Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Musa Hassan, was perplexed, saying that he did not understand the manner in which the investigation is being done.
He believed that the only way for the police to pinpoint those responsible over the controversy is through a holistic investigation, starting from the day the hired thugs broke into the temple.
“Those who incited others by saying that there was a racial and religious scuffle at the temple must also be investigated. The police was too quiet about the riot, countless of statements were made by the public and ministers.
“And that further complicates the case. The police must be the first to come out with a statement, so as to prevent speculations. They need to tell what happened. What has been and will be done,” said Musa.
Evidently, there is more to the Sri Maha Mariamman riot than Adib’s death but whether the police is really looking into it is anybody’s guess and it will remain so until the police learns that, at times, silence is not always golden.