As soon as politicians stopped commenting on whether or not P Waytha Moorthy should resign, they ceded that space to some NGO leaders.
One of them is Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, head of the Islamic Renaissance Front. Echoing the stand of Minister of Youth and Sports Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, he said Waytha should resign for failing to contain rioting at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple.
When one of the committees of the temple refused to abide by the 2014 court settlement, Farouk said it was a “recipe” for a major disaster.
Farouk believes that fireman Adib who died in the ensuing fracas would be alive today, had Waytha intervened vigorously and not blamed the police.
He said the minister behaved like a member of the Opposition; as though he was still a member of Hindraf, a movement that Farouk says is known for its racial and religious bigotry.
When Wathya did not apologise for speaking out against racism and forced religious conversion in the Netherlands about a decade ago, Farouk says he should vacate his Cabinet position.
On the other hand, he defends Syed Saddiq for speaking up for the preservation of national unity and harmony.
Farouk’s argument is neither convincing nor backed with facts. In his selective amnesia, he recalls some events and conveniently forgets others that could dent his case.
He is unaware that under Barisan Nasional, the Seafield temple was accorded a piece of land. But why the temple had to be relocated under the new developer remains to be established.
It is true that if all the parties, including the temple authorities, adhered to the court settlement, the fracas could have been avoided.
But the point is why the temple, which was promised a piece of land by the previous government, had to be relocated?
I believe despite the provocation by some opposition parties and NGOs, the matter could have been settled with or without Waytha. Even the court could have been the ultimate solution.
Who was responsible for the mess? Who sent the thugs to disrupt the temple activities early morning? How come Farouk totally discounts the role of these thugs who were the prime cause for the riots?
Why does he blindly put the blame on the Indians who came to defend their temple on hearing that it was in danger of being flattened?
I am not defending those mischievous elements who were out to embarrass the Pakatan Harapan government.
The police were not aware in the beginning that a group of thugs acting at the behest of some parties had entered the temple premises. It was a genuine mistake and it was only after they realised the truth that reinforcements were sent to take control of the situation.
It was not wrong for Waytha to have corrected the police on this matter. He should not be asked to resign for this simple correction.
Waytha is not a Superman in charge of national unity or harmony. If Waytha is blamed for the rioting, then the blame should be shared by the prime minister and the entire Cabinet.
Even opposition leaders have an equal share of the blame for making provocative statements along racial and religious lines.
Why is there a concerted effort to single out Waytha for the attack on Adib? Is it because he is a Hindraf leader or a person who was not elected but appointed to the present post, or because he is a member of a minority community, or because of his interview on Malaysia in the Netherlands in 2007?
It is obvious that Waytha is being targeted by political parties and even those from PH and NGOs. While they mainly use the argument of Waytha’s dereliction on the matter of national unity pertaining to what happened at the Seafield temple, the real reason is something else.
It might be related to the deteriorating ethnic and religious relations in the country. In other words, Waytha seems to be a victim of extremism in this country that has its roots in the nature of politics.
Farouk can defend Syed Saddiq for demanding Waytha’s resignation. It has nothing to do with national unity or disunity.
But he should not try to dignify Syed Saddiq. For all his skills as a debater, he lacks the political acumen in digesting the complexities of Malaysian politics.
I expected Farouk to come up with a better argument, not by polishing the standard and crude one.
P Ramasamy is the deputy chief minister of Penang.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.