Play stronger role in temple issue, Suhakam tells Putrajaya

Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph ( fourth from left) speaks to Save Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple task force leader S Ramaji (in orange robe) during a visit to the site.

SUBANG JAYA: The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has urged Putrajaya to play a more active role in the Sri Maha Mariamman temple issue, saying the government can come up with alternative ways of resolving the issue.

Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph said the responsibility to solve such disputes lay with the federal and the state governments.

“Staying uninvolved is not an option, they need to take a more active role,” he told reporters at the temple in Seafield, after meeting those who oppose a consent judgment for the temple’s relocation.

Jerald said Suhakam would see if there had been any human rights abuse throughout the dispute, which saw violent scenes of rioting and destruction of property since Monday.

He said the commission would also recommend to the government on how to deal with such issues in future.

“This was not a religious or ethnic case, this was a criminal case. For criminal cases there may be arrests and trials in court, but this needs to be investigated,” he said.

In the wee hours of Monday, at least 18 vehicles were torched during a fight between two groups of people.

Early Tuesday morning, several cars parked by the roadside were torched and a group vandalised the MCT Tower building, where developer One City Development Sdn Bhd has an office.

This morning, a group of rowdy youths gathered opposite the temple, before police moved in to arrest them.

Police have arrested more than 20 men in connection with the violence.

Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waytha Moorthy and Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran promised to raise the concerns of those opposing the temple’s relocation.

They also gave an assurance that the temple would not be demolished pending a decision.