KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said temple devotees should not have taken the law into their own hands, and instead alerted the cops immediately.
“It was said that the developer had sent people to the temple. When the Indian devotees saw Malays coming inside, they acted (against them).
“The devotees should have called the police and reported there were intruders in their temple but they did not.
“They took matters into their own hands, resulting in trouble,” he told reporters during a press conference after visiting a firefighter injured during the scuffle at the Hindu temple in Seafield, USJ25, Subang Jaya.
Mahathir said the attack on the firefighter, who was on duty outside of the Sri Maha Mariamman temple on Tuesday morning, was attempted murder.
He said Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, 24, who was critically injured, would be dead now if not for the doctors and life support machines.
Adib, who was initially warded at the intensive care unit of the Subang Jaya Medical Centre, was transferred to the National Heart Institute (IJN) last night.
“Here the damage is such that a little bit more and he will be dead. If he’s dead, the charge will be for murder,” Mahathir said, adding that police were trying their best to find the culprits.
Mahathir said demonstrations in Malaysia needed to be carried out in a peaceful manner.
“This was not a demonstration. This was something like wanting to kill people. They come in with parangs. We cannot allow this,” he added.
Commenting on reports that the developer’s lawyers had hired thugs to break into the temple, Mahathir said this was the wrong thing to do.
“They did not think it through when they asked Malays to take charge of the Hindu temple. These were foreigners, they do not understand Malaysian practices or culture.
“If we find out who was the one who did this, the lawyers or the attorney-general will have to find some case against him,” he added.
In an earlier statement, the prime minister had said the violence at the temple was criminal in nature and the perpetrators would be dealt with according to the law.
On accusations that the police were slow to act on the crisis, he said they had not acted aggressively as they had to exercise caution in handling such sensitive religious issues.
On Monday, an early morning scuffle between the devotees and a second group of intruders in the temple saw 18 cars torched and at least two seriously injured.
Then on Tuesday morning, a gathering at the temple involving over 1,000 people which began peacefully turned unruly after a car parked on the opposite side of the road was set on fire.
When a fire truck arrived at the scene to douse the fire, protesters charged towards the truck, forcing it to retreat.
An Emergency Medical Rescue Services van and a fire engine vehicle were also vandalised, reportedly by the crowd.
The crowd also vandalised the office of the developer, One City, located about 500m away, pelting the building with rocks and smashing the glass doors and windows.