QUICK-THINKING intervention by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has amicably ended the stalemate surrounding the relocation of the Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam Temple in Subang Jaya, Selangor.
The veteran Malaysian Prime Minister has been praised for pulling the strings at the highest levels to ensure that Monday’s acrimonious riots at the 140-year-old Hindu temple was nipped in the bud before it turned into a nationally-provoked racial riots.
Following two violent clashes on Monday and Tuesday, at least 21 people have been arrested, including two lawyers who allegedly paid “thugs” to start the pre-dawn riots, 23 vehicles set ablaze, and one fireman is now fighting for his life.
Showcasing himself as an action-oriented no-nonsense premier, Tun Mahathir immediately rounded up the senior Indian ministers in the Pakatan Harapan-cabinet to work out an immediate strategy to first, contain rising emotions among the aggrieved temple devotees. Then, he went on the line with Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari and a major announcement is expected from Shari at 1.00pm Thursday.
Kuala Lumpur-based journalist P. Arumugam gave the thumbs-up to Tun Mahathir, who he says is “committed to the rule of law and to guarantee the public to find the best solution to this ultra-sensitive issue”. He added: “He’s a very smart mediator.”
Senator P. Waytha Moorthy, who is Unity and Social Minister, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran and Deputy Rural Development Minister Sivarasa Rasiah worked very late through the night to offer the Prime Minister with swift options to end the contentious temple fracas.
Under Tun Mahathir’s proposal, the Selangor state government will acquire the land and allow the temple to remain at the location on a long-term lease.
Sources said there are several options including one in which the Federal Government will pay the developer for the land and hand ownership over to the Selangor government.
Tun Mahathir also ordered that new places of worship will now require the government’s permission before they are constructed, He told The Star newspaper: “The problem currently is that temples are being built anywhere even on other people’s land. Many temples are built on land that does not belong to temple owners.
HOUSES OF WORSHIP
“Now the government will pass a resolution and make it a condition that houses of worship like mosques, temples or churches cannot be built without the permission of local authorities. They cannot build on land that does not belong to them; that will solve the problem,” he added.
On an angrier tone, Tun Mahathir also condemned Monday’s 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) on Wednesday.
The Emergency Medical Rescue Service worker was believed to have been assaulted by demonstrators although one faction from the temple asserted that he was run over by a fire truck trying to manoeuvre out of danger.