The head of a taskforce overseeing the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple has apologised for suggesting that Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim had been hit by a fire truck in the riots that occurred outside the temple grounds last month.
According to authorities, the late firefighter was dragged out from his vehicle and beaten up by rioters in the fracas.
"My intention during the press meet on Nov 28 was merely to request police to investigate the possibility of the late Adib being hit by the fire engine.
"I never had the slightest intention to hurt the feelings of the late Adib's family, friends or anyone by asking the police to include the truck video into their investigation.
"If I have in any way hurt their feelings, I have no regrets in apologising to the family who are in deep distress of having lost a son dedicated to his service," the Save Seafield Mariamman taskforce chairperson Ramaji said in a statement today.
Ramaji made the statement after noting that protesters calling for the resignation of de facto National Unity Minister P Waythamoorthy over the riots had also called on Ramaji to apologise for the 'fire truck theory'.
'A good man'
He also thanked Adib for his service to Malaysians, calling him a "good man".
"The incidents that took place in the temple at dawn on Nov 26, and what took place on the road outside the temple at the dawn of the following day are dark moments for our country.
"The incidents should not have happened. Nobody can and should in any way justify those embarrassing moments.
"I sincerely regret what happened to Adib that has caused his family sorrow, and pray for justice to prevail," he said.
In the early hours of Nov 26, a group of thugs allegedly hired by the developer that owns the land on which the temple sits had tried to take control of the building.
This led to a clash with Hindu devotees that escalated into rioting. The developer denied hiring thugs.
The following day, tens of thousands of supporters gathered near the temple in a show of support, but a second round of rioting broke out.
Adib was part of a Fire and Rescue Department team that tried to put out vehicles that were set ablaze by rioters.
According to authorities, Adib suffered broken ribs and multiple organ injuries after being attacked by rioters. He passed away on Monday.
Conspiracy theories about how Adib sustained his injuries began to circulate after Ramaji's claimed that a firefighter ran past a reversing fire truck.
After reviewing the photographs and videos of the incident, Malaysiakini found that the person allegedly "mowed down" was wearing a different outfit from Adib.
Adib, who was part of the emergency medical rescue unit, was wearing a regular camouflage uniform, while the person referred to by the caretaker wore a fire-resistant Nomex suit and helmet.
The Fire and Rescue Department said the person referred to was Mohd Hazim Mohd Rahimi, who had indeed run past a fire truck, but was not mowed down.