Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today suggested that the foreign owner of a firm involved in the dispute with the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple was allegedly insensitive.
He said this when asked about allegations that the firm's lawyers had hired a group of men to guard the temple on Monday morning, triggering two nights riots.
"What they did was wrong, asking Malays to guard a Hindu temple. This act was not thought through.
"These are foreigners. They do not understand Malaysians," said Mahathir after visiting Fire and Rescue Department personnel Muhammad Adib Muhammad Kassim at the National Heart Institute (IJN) today.
Adib, 24, was critically injured during the riot on Tuesday morning. Events leading up to his injuries are currently under dispute.
It is believed that Mahathir was referring to Philippines-based Ayala Corporation, which is the majority owner MCT Bhd, which in turn owns One City Development Sdn Bhd, the legal owner of the land where the temple is located.
This morning, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said police had determined that the group who accosted devotees at the Hindu temple in Subang Jaya were hired by lawyers who worked for the developer that owned the land.
"Police investigations found that the lawyers of the developer had hired a group of Malay men to barge into the temple and take control of it before developers and police could arrive (to facilitate the land transfer) on the morning of Nov 26.
"Around 50 people were hired to do this work, and each received a payment of between RM150 and RM300," Muhyiddin told a press conference in Putrajaya.
It is understood that two lawyers working for One City Development Bhd were among the 21 individuals remanded by the police yesterday.
Klang MP Charles Santiago has also made a similar allegation, adding that One City Development stopped talking to the Selangor government after MCT was taken over by Ayala Corp.
"Whenever the menteri besar's office tried to contact their chairperson, he just replied with a text asking us to speak to their legal team. In other words, they are saying 'we have the consent judgement, so speak to our lawyers," he said.
The Selangor government had proposed that One City Development incorporate the temple into their development project, similar to what the Mid-Valley mall project did for a temple at their locality.
Call the cops
Mahathir said that if the authorities found out who was behind the riots, the authorities will take action.
He said that the court had ordered for the temple to be relocated but the developer had sent people to guard the temple.
"When (the ethnic) Indian people saw Malays entering the temple, they reacted. They should have reported (the matter) to the police and let them know that their temple (was being guarded by intruders).
"They didn't and instead took action themselves, leading to the riot," he said.
On Muhammad Adib's predicament, Mahathir opined that he was a victim of attempted murder.
"So now, the heart, lungs and kidneys are still functioning. This is because of the things that the doctors of IJN had been prepared for.
"Not many hospitals have such capacity or the skills. He is very fortunate," said Mahathir, who was once a practising doctor.
When Mahathir was asked if he would intervene in the dispute between the landowner and the temple committee, the prime minister replied that he had been advised against going to the site.
"I wanted to go, but I was prevented (to do so). So I can only issue statements. Tomorrow, I will address Parliament (on this issue)," he said.