Commentary Politics

The tragedy of Muhammad Adib – when politics gets in the way of the law

Dec 22,2018

by Abdul Rahmat Omar

YESTERDAY, a huge fire broke out at a furniture factory near Subang Jaya and I wondered how it would have been if PB 17476 Muhammad Adib bin Mohd Kassim of the Subang Jaya Fire Station had been there.

It would be just another day’s work, perhaps, but maybe he would have been on matrimonial leave already.

Sadly, that is not the case.  Adib succumbed to the injuries he sustained three weeks ago in a scuffle outside the Sri Maha Mariamman temple on the outskirts of Subang Jaya.  

His death was unnecessary and was the result of the process of law not being adhered to.

In a nutshell, a temple was built by estate workers toiling the Seafield Estate, owned by Sea-field Rubber Company Ltd.  It was originally a privately-owned estate, but was floated as a public company on Feb 8 1907 (Wright, Arnold, 1908 pg 466).  This estate was bought over by Sime, Darby & Co., Ltd in 1971.

Sime Darby was taken over by Malaysians, and in 1986 Seafield Estate was sold to Sime UEP for the land to be developed.  However, the portion that contains the temple was sold to MCT Berhad in 2007. As the land’s new owner, obviously MCT Berhad would want to realise the full potential of this asset – but the temple was in the way.

Legal processes were in motion and finally concluded.  At one point, the courts recognised an administrator who would act on behalf of the temple.  As usual, in the case of an eviction, the remedy is for the owner to provide some compensation and resettlement.  

It is understood that MCT Berhad had allocated a site not far from where the temple now is, and money in the form of a sum of RM1.5 million.

Where money is involved, there will be those who will not be satisfied.  And another party laid claim that it was the recognised administrator of the temple, and then sought for another remedy through legal process.  

All that was done and dusted, and the final judgment was for the temple to be evicted. There was a plea for a stay until Deepavali is over – that has come and gone too.

Instead of hiring thugs as alleged, MCT Berhad should have gone back to the court and inform the court that the temple is still there and that the temple’s various parties had refused to move.  Then obtain a court order, return to the temple with the court bailiff and let the latter enforce the order, failing which those who refuse can be charged for obstructing public servant in discharge of his public functions as prescribed by Section 186 of the Penal Code of Malaysia.

MCT Berhad could also deposit a sum of money and request for the local authority, here being the Majlis Perbandaran Subang Jaya (MPSJ), to demolish the temple.  MPSJ will then issue a 7-day notice for the temple to be vacated for demolition.

Vacating and shifting a Hindu temple from one place to another is not as straightforward as shifting a mosque, for example, but it has been done thousands of times globally.  

There was one temple at where Kingsley College in Putra Heights is now. That temple has moved to a nearby location provided by the developer.

In a temple there are two types of deities: the main deity (Dhruva Bera) which is immobile, and the smaller ones in festive forms (Utsava Vigraha) which are the ones paraded around on chariots during festivals.  

In order to shift the main deity to a new place, the Visarjan mantra needs to be invoked. It is the process of asking the deity to vacate the idol. Once this is done, it can be assumed that the deity has vacated the idol.  At the new temple, a replacement idol is constructed and conduct the Prana Pratishta for the deity to occupy the idol.

It is simpler for the smaller and mobile idols as they only need to undergo the Shayan ceremony where the deities are put to sleep and are transported to the new temple in that state.  All the above could have been done had things followed the rule of law.

There was ample time from after Deepavali until the night the thugs entered the temple, for these ceremonies to take place.  There was ample time from the time MCT Berhad gave a piece of land and RM.5 million until Deepavali this year to build another temple.

What spoilt the whole thing was when politicians interfered, trying to become champions, telling the temple committee members and congregation that it was okay to ignore a court order and continue to occupy the temple until another way can be found.  

The tragicOn the second night of the ruckus, Muhammad Adib was dragged out of his EMS vehicle and was beaten senselessly.

My question is: how is that now fair to MCT Berhad as the land owner? And how is this fair to Muhammad Adib, his family, fiancée, friends, relatives and colleagues?

And how is this not an interference by politicians in judicial processes, that the current government promised to voters to never allow such things to happen?




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