PM excoriates lawyers who used firm’s RM150,000 on youths to terrorise temple

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (centre) speaks during a press conference at the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur November 28, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (centre) speaks during a press conference at the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur November 28, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad condemned today the lawyers who allegedly used RM150,000 from a private firm to hire youngsters and forcibly occupy a Hindu temple in Subang on Monday.

Dr Mahathir was particularly critical of the lawyers’ alleged decision to employ the group, including permanent residency holders, to invade the temple grounds, believed to be over a protracted land dispute.

"They did not think it through when they asked Malays to take charge of the Hindu temple,” he said to reporters at the National Heart Institute (IJN) after visiting a fireman here who was critically injured during violence outside the temple yesterday.

He also said employing foreigners in the situation was unhelpful as they do not understand Malaysian culture.

Earlier, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin disclosed the alleged role of the firm’s lawyers in triggering the unrest at the site of the Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam temple in USJ 25.

Muhyiddin told reporters that the information was gleaned from preliminary police investigations and questioning of the two lawyers who were among the 21 people arrested and remanded over the unrest.

Today, Dr Mahathir also condemned the incident on Monday, saying the rioters then were not ordinary protesters and appeared to be out for bloodshed and death.

“We cannot allow this. Although we want to be liberal to allow for demonstrations but trying to kill someone is not a demonstration, it’s attempted murder,” he said.

He pointed out how wounded emergency worker Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim suffered life-threatening injuries and said tragedy was only averted by his timely transfer to the National Heart Institute (IJN) yesterday.

The Emergency Medical Rescue Service worker was believed to have been assaulted by demonstrators yesterday, although one faction from the temple asserted that he was run over by a fire truck trying to manoeuvre out of danger.

“The damage was such that a little bit more, he would have died.

“It is fortunate nowadays that we have the means to ensure a person’s body continues to function and such equipment is only found here in IJN,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the authorities are trying their best to find the culprits involved in the incident, adding that murder charges will be sought if Muhammad Adib succumbs to his injuries.

On the temple committee’s request for his personal intervention, Dr Mahathir said he will issue a statement in Parliament tomorrow.

Earlier today, IJN released a statement to say Muhammad Adib was responding positively to the treatment but was still critical and in need of constant monitoring by a team of six specialists.

He is currently connected to an extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) device to provide respiratory aid and alleviate strain on his chest where he suffered serious injuries.

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