Decision on Waytha Moorthy after Adib’s inquest, says PM

Pressure has been building for P. Waytha Moorthy to be removed as minister in charge of unity and social well-being following the death of firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Pressure has been building for P. Waytha Moorthy to be removed as minister in charge of unity and social well-being following the death of firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 ― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will only decide whether or not to keep P. Waytha Moorthy in his Cabinet after receiving the full findings from the inquest on firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim.

Pressure has been building for the senator to be removed as minister in charge of unity and social well-being following the death of the 24-year-old rescue worker last month during a riot at a Hindu temple in Selangor three weeks prior.

“As for me, as a government official, I am within the government system, and as the prime minister, I can only make a statement after seeing the full investigation findings, because this is quite serious, causing clashes between Malays and Indians, this is not a good thing.

“I will decide after receiving evidence from all parties,” Dr Mahathir was quoted telling local Chinese-language paper Sin Chew Daily in an interview published today.

“What I mean is, you can't accuse someone without any definite evidence.

“Now there is a coroner's court, is (firefighter Adib's) death caused by Waytha Moorthy? Is the death caused by those who violently attacked him? What is the actual cause of death? We must know,” the prime minister was quoted saying.

Critics accused Waytha Moorthy of contributing to the heightened tensions that led to the second riot at the temple on November 27 through remarks issued a day earlier.

The Attorney-General's Chambers filed for an inquest on December 27 to determine the cause that led to Adib’ death on December 17.

No date has been fixed yet for the start of the inquest, which will be up for case management on January 18.

A two-day riot broke out at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam temple in Subang Jaya, Selangor on November 26 over a disputed eviction order rooted in an internal feud between two of its management factions.

One of the factions objected to the relocation of the Seafield temple away from the land that is owned by a private developer, while another temple management committee that had been recognised by the courts wanted to comply with its agreement with the developer under a 2014 court order to relocate the temple.

Two vehicles carrying the firefighters were reportedly attacked upon arrival on the second day of rioting, with Adib allegedly pulled out from one of the vehicles and assaulted by a mob.

The police has as of Adib's death so far arrested 106 suspects over the temple riots, and has reclassified Adib's case from attempted murder to murder.