By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani, The Malaysian Insider
The Home Minister today defended and justified last Friday's cow-head demonstration after meeting with Malay-Muslim representatives of Shah Alam's Section 23 at his office here today.
Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein pointed out that the residents felt victimized and had no intention to stir racial emotion.
“They are not getting off scot-free. They felt victimised and feel that there is another valid explanation on their part. There was no intention on their part to cause racial divide. They, the organisers, who are sitting left and right of me, didn’t even know that somebody was going to bring the head of the cow during that demonstration.” he said.
He added that the residents only wanted their voices to be heard but it was unfortunate that “the publicity they received was negative because it was linked with racial and religious sentiments.”
A group, claiming to be Muslim residents of Section 23 in Shah Alam, the new site of a Hindu temple, held a demonstration outside the Selangor state secretariat last Friday, dragging a severed cow-head, an animal sacred in Hinduism, which they stomped on and spat at under the gaze of the riot police.
The act was carried out by a group of 50 protestors who oppose the relocation of the Sri Mahamariamman Temple to Section 23 from Section 19, claiming the area is mainly occupied by Malay-Muslims.
The 150-year-old temple was built on a plantation which over the years was developed into housing estates by the Selangor Development Corporation (PKNS). No provisions were made to relocate the temple, which is now in the middle of a Muslim majority area.
Hishammuddin told reporters that the police allowed the demonstrators to proceed because the numbers of protestors were small.
“They said that they were very conscious and all that they wanted to do was to voice their unhappiness about the willingness of the state government to listen to their requests. I was told that even the Hindus there are not so passionate that it is built there (section 23),” he said.
Hishammuddin refuted claims that the protest was organised by Umno and said that the location allocated by the state government is not suitable because Section 23 is predominantly Malay.
However, a check last week showed the neighbourhood was multi-racial, with Indians making up more than a quarter of those who live there.
“If I wanted to use the issue to create chaos in Selangor, I can but we didn’t take such actions,” Hishammuddin said.
He tried to play down the cow-head incident by pointing out that there were previous incidents where a pig-head was used.
“I have it in my records to show there were cases where a pig-head was used by irresponsible parties including leaving the head in front of an Umno building covered by an Umno flag,” he said, but offered no details of such an act.
The Umno vice-president warned irresponsible parties not to provoke racial sentiments because it goes against the concept of 1 Malaysia.
Hishammuddin told reporters that the residents had met with Hindu Sangam two days ago and both parties will be releasing a media statement tomorrow.“If it can be resolved quickly and can be done with both sides understanding each other ... why would we want to penalise anybody?” he said, suggesting he was not in favour of legal action to be taken against any of the protestors.