Malaysiakini : “If this rash and negligent action had not been resorted to, I
believe there would not have been the clash between the Malay men and
the Hindu devotees at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple.” - Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
Even before an investigation was carried out into the death of
firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, the prime minister of this
country had decided that it was murder.
The state security
apparatus attempted to further a narrative that the Seafield temple
incident was a fight between two groups of Indians, and politicians were
warning the rakyat not to turn this into a racial or religious issue.
They ignored their own advice and attempted to propagandise the death of
Adib as some sort of epochal moment in Malay politics.
the historic May 9, 2018 general election (GE14) win, the then Pakatan
Harapan opposition never had a problem bemoaning the narrative that our
public institutions could not be trusted and that voting for Harapan
would mean a rejuvenation of the trust we could have in our most vital
The results of the inquest and the polemics
coming from politicians before and after the inquest demonstrates that,
for a certain segment of the rakyat, trust in our public institutions
PAS Youth deputy chief Fadhli Shaari wants
criminal charges to be brought against the people responsible for the
death of firefighter Muhammad Adib, but does this also include the
police when the coroner claimed that Adib’s death was “also the failure
of police to act at the time of the incident”?
brother, Muhammad Asyraf said that no civil suit was being considered
because “who do we sue?” But the coroner ruled that the police were also
liable, hence, the family could bring a civil suit against the PDRM.
Why aren’t these pressure groups seizing on this opportunity to hold the
police accountable, as they do the Attorney-General Tommy Thomas (below)?
had Malay/Muslim rights groups, political parties and activists
clamouring for a “criminal verdict” of some kind. And what they got was
just that, that the fire fighter’s death was a result of a criminal act.
Mind you, I have no idea how the figures of two or three people came
about, but the result of this verdict seems to have appeased those
clamouring for someone to blame.
Now politicians are telling the
PDRM (which the inquest decided contributed to the death of Adib) to
seek justice for the family of Adib and carry out an investigation. How
exactly is the PDRM going to discover Adib’s alleged killers?
are news reports stating that they will be re-interviewing persons of
interests whom they cleared of any wrongdoing in the first instance.
Meanwhile, we have public statements from the PDRM that they are on the
case and that they will review their SOP when it comes to incidents like
At the heart of it is the reality that some Malaysians do
not trust our public institutions. People pore over the statements of
the coroner and point out flaws in the reasoning – legal or logical or
both – and wonder if this verdict was about appeasement. Sure,
we can pore over the legalese about the procedural aspects of the
inquest, conclusions drawn and reliability of the testimonies of the
witnesses, but this seems more like a public
scapegoating of unknown
people. A convenient result for an inconvenient incident. The fact
that unknown assailants were responsible for the death – and of course,
the PDRM for their failure to act – means that we will never really
know how Adib died or who was responsible. Of course, if you believe in
the verdict, as Lim Guan Eng wants you too, then this is the end of this
tragic episode. However, fact and history are not sympathetic enablers.
you have groups propagandising the death of a firefighter in a rioting
incident brought upon by thugs under the employ of corporate interests,
who desecrated a temple, this is bound to become another flashpoint
waiting to flare up again.
Jaringan Melayu Malaysia president
Azwanddin Hamzah threatened to attack the Klang police station, made all
sorts of unfounded allegations against Primary Industries Minister
Teresa Kok and made derogatory statements against P Waythamoorthy, who
went against the official narrative of the state when the issue first
Not to mention the Christmas Day solidarity rally
organised by far-right elements (and which included mainstream
politicians from both sides of the political divide) to honour the death
of the firefighter – politicians who also took the opportunity to make
incendiary racial and religious statements.
No matter how you try
to spin it, the legacy of Adib, especially among rational, thinking
Malaysians, is one of divisiveness and political opportunism. The Malay
far-right, with the assistance of Bersatu and other Harapan politicians,
in attempting to make him some sort of martyr, saw to this. About the
only good thing that has come out of this is that Adib’s family has some
We still have not discovered what happened in the events
leading up to Adib’s death. The coroner said that the lack of action by
the PDRM contributed to Adib’s death. While this is a damning
indictment, what about the police presence or lack thereof during the
time when thugs attacked the temple? What about the police response time
What the result of this inquest reveals is that when it
comes to the action of the state, there is a segment of the rakyat who
are still deeply mistrustful of public institutions. It also reveals the
racial and religious divisions when it comes to race and justice in
No matter how much you tell people not to politicise
this result, the reality is that for many people, the verdict of this
inquest was a political one, not a factual or legal one. Keep
in mind the quote that opens this piece. The home minister had said
that investigations by the police had revealed that a lawyer working for
the developer had hired thugs to take control of the situation, and the
role of the developer in this mess is yet to be determined.
who knows, the family of the late Adib may have another potential party
to sue for the death of their kin. If all those Malay advocacy groups,
politicians and race-baiting charlatans were really interested in
honouring the memory of Adib, they would help the family claim justice
or compensation from parties which the inquest and public statements by
the home minister point to as culpable in the death of Adib.
will not happen, of course, because they are more interested in ensuring
that the trust in public institutions is constantly validated.