Temple faction leader apologises for saying fireman hit by fire truck, says no malice intended

Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam temple task force head, S. Ramaji, speaks to Malay Mail, December 12, 2018. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam temple task force head, S. Ramaji, speaks to Malay Mail, December 12, 2018. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 — The Seafield Hindu temple faction leader who had claimed that fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim was run over by a fire truck during the riot last week, has clarified that he did not do so out of malice.

S. Ramaji said he made the comment after looking at a video clip of the incident because he wanted to highlight the kindness of people who rushed to help the 24-year-old first responder.

“I humbly apologise for any confusion. I only wanted to show the good side of some people who rushed to the fireman’s aid, and not to cause any confusion about the whole incident, or blame anyone.

“I again sternly maintain that this was never a racial incident. In fact, I have been praying for the fireman every day,” he told Malay Mail.

“Some (people) were saying that the Indians pulled him out of the vehicle and thrashed him, and all these kind of things. So the next day, we got the video.”

He explained that their “intention was not to organise a mob but the crowd on the road became uncontrollable and it was beyond our control.”

“So the next day when we got this video, we were very excited because we found that there is proof that our Indians didn’t do it. So when we got that proof, we thought that we should give it to the press,” Ramaji, whose real name is M. Ramachandran, said when met recently.

He added that he only wanted to produce evidence the temple members received, and did not have any malicious intent towards anyone involved in the incident.

Ramaji also stressed that he did not make the statement to defend members of the faction but only to show what he found, hoping to clear the air over the matter.

“Thank you Adib for your service to fellow Malaysians. You are a really good man and  I will keep you in my prayers,” Ramaji added.

Malay Mail was made to understand that he has already had his statement recorded by the police last Friday, in connection with the remark about the fire truck.

On November 28, Ramaji told reporters at a press conference that the severe injuries suffered by Muhammad Adib was not the result of his being attacked by rioters, but from a fire truck reversing into him at full speed.

Ramaji referred to the video clip that had been uploaded on Facebook and shared on various social media platforms to support his allegation.

Muhammad Adib, who is from the Subang Jaya Emergency Response System (EMRS) unit, was transferred to IJN from the Subang Jaya Medical Center (SJMC) on the night of November 27.

He was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the SJMC the morning of the same day, with broken ribs and bruises on his chest and abdomen after allegedly being assaulted by rioters who forcefully pulled him out of the emergency medical response vehicle deployed to the scene.  

However, last week, the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun reiterated that fireman Muhammad Adib was indeed assaulted and not hit by a fire engine during the second day of rioting at the temple.

“Based on the information we have received so far, he was not knocked down by a fire truck. Fire and Rescue director-general Datuk Mohamad Hamdan Wahid has also clarified this yesterday and a police report has been made.

“We are in the midst identifying the individual who shared a video claiming Muhammad Adib was hit by a truck and some individuals from the temple management who spread this false information,” he told reporters.