KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel remained on standby and did not move in to disperse rioters at the Sri Maha Mariamman temple last November as they had not received an order to take action, the Shah Alam Coroner’s Court heard today.
Assistant Superintendent Shuhaimi Yaakub, who led one of the two FRU troops during the unrest in Subang Jaya last November, told the court the last orders he received were for them to be prepared and be on standby to take action.
He said two units from the Cheras FRU headquarters were instructed by officers from the federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman to head to the scene in Taman Seafield at around 9.20pm.
“We arrived and I alerted the Subang Jaya district police control room of our presence, and I was then told to inform the officer on duty that night, who was Deputy Superintendent Mohamad Nasir Drahman, of the situation,” he explained.
Shuhaimi said he then met with the FRU Unit-1 Commanding Officer Superintendent Jefri Muhammad, and leader of the second FRU troops dispatched to the scene, who is only known as Deputy Superintendent Firdaus.
“Superintendent Jefri tried calling the Subang Jaya district police chief but could not get through, so he rang the deputy and briefed him on the situation.
“The orders we then received were to remain on standby and get ready to take action,” he explained to government lawyer Hamdan Hamzah during the inquest into fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s death today.
Shuhaimi was the 21st witness to take the stand for the inquest into the temple riots in Subang Jaya, Selangor, where Adib was said to have died on December 17 as a result of injuries sustained during an assault by rioters.
The inquest today was presided over by coroner Rofiah Mohamad Mansor.
Shuhaimi, during cross-examination by the Local Government and Housing Ministry’s lawyer Syazlin Mansor, explained his personnel had not acted proactively to disperse the crowd that night due to the absence of orders from above.
“The FRU team, you must understand, is a team sent to assist in situations with crowd problems,” he explained.
Shuhaimi added the chain of command was stated in the Public Order Manual, which was to follow orders only when given from above.
“In such cases, we would have to follow orders given by the district police chief, or his deputy, or the officer in charge, who in this case it was Deputy Superintendent Nasir,” he told Syazlin when asked why the FRU had not moved in against rioters on its own initiative.
Shuhaimi then explained he saw the crowd present at the temple approach the fire truck and Emergency Medical Responses Services (EMRS) van that had arrived, before the rescue workers bolted from the scene after being attacked.
He said the instructions to remain on standby and be prepared were in place until he left the scene, adding the district police chief finally made an appearance at around 3.30am, together with the Selangor Criminal Investigations Department chief and the FRU deputy commander.
Later, in the day, Hardeep Singh Jaswant, 29, the 22nd witness at the inquest took the witness stand.
Hardeep, a security company branch manager, told the court how he had recorded parts of the riot with his smartphone to update the housing committee that he was in charge of.
He then verified with the court the videos which he took that night, saying it was done purely for his records.
“I was the one who took the videos that went viral, but I took them to update the residents of the gated community here,” he said referring to the USJ 17 Cove neighbourhood.