The Fire and Rescue Services Department director-general said today that none of his personnel were mowed down by a reversing fire engine while trying to escape a mob during the Seafield temple riot Tuesday morning.
According to Mohammad Hamdan Wahid, the person seen walking behind a fire engine in the viral clip was not badly injured firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kasim, but another, whom he identified as Mohd Hazim Mohd Rahimi.
Hazim was seated beside the director-general during the press conference at the National Heart Institute (IJN) today.
Hamdan said eight other fire and rescue personnel at the scene of the chaos outside the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Subang Jaya in the early hours of Tuesday could attest to the fact that Hazim was not knocked down.
“We leave it to the police to investigate. The eight firefighters at the scene know what actually happened. There are laws to handle those spreading fake news.
“It is not our (the department’s) style to mow down our colleagues,” he said.
Hamdan was responding to a claim by temple caretakers earlier today, citing an undisclosed video clip which they claimed showed being knocked down by a reversing fire engine causing him to land on a nearby car.
This was in contrast with the authorities’ version that the 24-year-old was pulled out of his van and assaulted by rioters at the scene while responding to an emergency call.
Temple committee chairperson S Ramaji had said a figure wearing a fire-resistant suit and seen walking behind the reversing vehicle in the clip, was Adib.
Hamdan said fire and rescue personnel responding to an emergency call were instead greeted by a mob.
“The driver of the fire engine said that when they arrived at the scene, they were greeted with machetes and steel pipes banging on the vehicle’s door.
“You can judge for yourselves if that is good hospitality. Hazim was seated beside the driver,” said Hamdan.
Commenting on another video clip which purportedly depicted a group extracting an injured Adib from the scene and loading him onto a pick-up truck bound for a hospital, Hamdan said:
“I believe they were good Samaritans in the group but I leave it to the police to see who rioted and who saved (lives).
“I don’t want to comment much on this. I just want to say that the remark (that Adib was not assaulted) is not true and baseless. The story has been spun and it's like trying to justify the unjustifiable (menegakkan benang yang basah)."
Recalling the events that night, Hazim said he was on the verge of attending to the hose reel of the fire engine upon arriving at the scene when they were set upon by the mob.
“We were attacked and fearing for my life, I ran into the EMRS (emergency medical rescue team) vehicle (behind the fire engine, in which Adib was seated).
“I was mistaken for Adib,” he said, alluding to the video clip which showed a figure behind the fire engine.
To a question on whether he saw Adib (above) being beaten up, Hazim said he did not, as he had taken refuge in the EMRS vehicle in the moments that followed.
Adib is currently being warded at National Heart Institute after being transferred there from a private hospital in Subang Jaya. His condition is said to be improving.
The riots stemmed from an attack in the early hours of Monday morning by a group of 50 masked individuals who attempted to secure the temple which is at the centre of a legal dispute over a proposed relocation.
The authorities have said that lawyers for the developer trying to gain control of the land had hired a group to do so which triggered the first riot.
Police have arrested 21 individuals in connection with the Monday morning attack, including two lawyers.
Adib sustained severe injuries during the second night of rioting.