17 suspects arrested in Malaysia over temple violence; police denies slow in response

SHAH ALAM (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – The Malaysian police have denied that they responded slowly to the riots at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in USJ, Subang Jaya after 17 suspects were arrested.

Selangor police chief Comm Datuk Mazlan Mansor said the suspects were in their 30s.

“I want to stress that the riot has nothing to do with any racial issue. Those who are spreading that it is a racial issue online must stop immediately,” he told a press conference in Semenyih.

The police denied that they were slow in handling the incident.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said: “The police were informed of the incident at 2.40am and a team was already at the scene at 2.50am. The district police chief arrived there 30 minutes later.”

“We have the sequence of events in our diary.

“If we had not acted quickly, there could have been a possibility of a death during the riots,” he said during a press conference on the matter at the Selangor police headquarters on Monday night (Nov 26).

Back up was called by the ground team, and 700 more policemen arrived to help control the situation.

The IGP called for all parties, including NGOs and politicians, not to fan racial sentiments.

“I hope these irresponsible parties stop creating speculation. They do not know the real situation.

“All parties should help pacify the situation, not make it worse. We will act strictly on those responsible for this incident,” he said, adding that 29 police reports had been made regarding the incident.

The IGP called on the public to ignore messages and videos that could spark racial tension.

He revealed that as of 9.30pm, 17 suspects have been arrested, all of whom are locals.

“One police corporal from the Subang Jaya police district was injured while trying to pacify the situation. He suffered a broken hand,” he added.

The IGP said that the police would investigate all aspects of the case, including allegations that a developer had send a group of people to force them (the people at the temple) out .

However, he noted that it was too early to tell if they had any involvement at this point of time.

Nevertheless, he said that the police have identified all parties responsible for the riots.

Action, including the recording of statements, will be conducted in the near future.

Police investigations showed that the efforts to relocate the temple to a nearby location in Putra Heights had been ongoing, with three tries already this year.

The temple will be monitored 24 hours a day for the time being.

On the crowd that had gathered at the temple on Monday night, the IGP advised them to disperse peacefully.

There are reports that the area around the temple is jammed up tonight (Nov 26) as people have been flocking there.

The Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim had been reported earlier as saying that the temple incident was not a racial clash but a land dispute.

He said the incident was sparked off at about 2.30am after a group of about 50 men, believed to be Malays, intruded into the temple.

When several Indian caretakers realised this, they contacted their friends and informed them of the intrusion, resulting in about 200 Indian men rushing there and cordoning off the temple, he said.

“During the siege, the police arrived at the scene. The intruders attempted to flee and a clash erupted between the two groups. As a result, three men were injured while several vehicles were reportedly torched,” said Noor Rashid.

“Perhaps the side wanting to take over (the land) engaged a group of Malay men to facilitate the acquisition.

“It is possible that they are gangsters and, of course, the Indian group attempted to check the intrusion.

“I have to clarify because it is a sensitive issue and I do not want anyone to take advantage (of the situation).

“There is no issue of a racial clash,” said Noor Rashid.

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