“Ganabatirau’s 30th of November 2018 statement of apology was more an insult to Muhammad Adib’s family than it was a statement of regret. Still, he did make an effort to issue an apology even if it were an attempt to mislead the ummah. Waytha, however, made it tacitly clear that no matter what happens or who dies, he gets to say and do what he wants, whenever he wants and however he wants to”
Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen
On the 28th of November 2018, Gagasan Tiga (G3) lodged a police report at the Dang Wangi Ibu Pejabat Daerah (IPD) against Minister of National Unity and Social Wellbeing P Waytha Moorthy and Selangor DAP exco Ganabatirau. The report sought an investigation by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohamad Tan Sri Fuzi Harun into statements issued by the duo regarding the 26th of November 2018 Seafield Hindu Temple riots. G3 urged Fuzi to treat the statements as security threats and discover if the duo had been instigated by the DAP to trigger unrest.
Although heavily politicised, problems afflicting the Seafield temple didn’t just come into being overnight, but escalated over a 31 year period beginning with the sale of the land on which the temple is built to Sime Darby. Several injunctions and verdicts later, a RM1.5 million compensation agreement was reached in 2014 between land developer One City Development Sdn Bhd (OneCity) and several of the temple’s caretakers. The agreement became a point of contention ever since between two rival factions, each claiming that its head is the temple’s rightful chairman.
Things got out of hand when a Chinese lawyer serving in one of the developer’s companies arranged for a bunch of thugs to threaten the temple’s committee. The matter was quickly turned into a racial affair by Ganabatirau when the DAP exco wrote in his Facebook that the thugs were Malay-Muslims. Instead of reprimanding the exco, Waytha added fuel to his flames by alleging that the Subang Jaya IPD dragged its feet in getting to the temple. But according to police personnel I spoke to, Waytha had yet to get in touch with the IPD at the time he issued the statement.
In other words, he lied.
Despite knowing how high emotions were flying, he accused the IPD of issuing false statements regarding the cause of the melee. Waytha claimed that the police only arrived one hour 45 minutes after some gangsters were spotted in the vicinity of the temple while the FRU (Federal Reserve Unit) showed up some 100 minutes later. However, according to Fuzi, the police were at the scene ten minutes after receiving a tip-off regarding some 50 or so men seen loitering around. A separate statement by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad affirmed that the riots were criminal in nature and not racially or religiously motivated.
So why was Waytha not reprimanded?
It is one thing that he fanned emotions leading to the loss of a firefighter’s life. It is another that he refused to issue an apology to both the Hindus and Muslims for having behaved erratically. Ganabatirau’s 30th of November 2018 statement of apology was more an insult to Muhammad Adib’s family than it was a statement of regret. Still, he did make an effort to issue an apology even if it were an attempt to mislead the ummah. Waytha, however, made it tacitly clear that no matter what happens or who dies, he gets to say and do what he wants, whenever he wants and however he wants to.
Question is, will Mahathir keep quiet about this?
There is such a thing is giving a man a second chance. But there is also such a thing as a risk being too big to be ignored. On the 26th of November 2018, Waytha demonstrated clear prejudice against PDRM and an absolute lack of tact and diplomacy. There is no such thing as a second chance when it comes to a fellow like him as one can never be too sure how he will react should another disaster strike. Besides, this isn’t the first time he’s attempted to stoke racial and religious tensions.
Some years back, he was on record telling foreign journalists that the Government of Malaysia (GoM) stymied religious freedom and forcibly converted Hindus to Muslims. When asked, he slingshot the blame to Barisan Nasional by alleging that the previous administration brought him into government despite knowing his prejudices. And to think that Mahathir still found it appropriate to appoint him Minister of National Unity and Social Wellbeing.