KUALA LUMPUR: Simultaneous rallies were held in Putrajaya and Penang on Friday (Dec 21), in a show of solidarity for a firefighter who died after allegedly being attacked during riots at a Hindu temple.
Hundreds of people were said to have participated in the events, which were largely peaceful.
Gathering outside Putrajaya Mosque, several hundred people demanded that Minister of National Unity and Social Well-being Waytha Moorthy be sacked.
Malay rights group Gerakan Pembela Ummah, which led the protest, said Mr Moorthy had fanned racial sentiments that led to the violence, which ultimately resulted in the death of 24-year-old Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim.
Mr Moorthy was among a group of ministers who publicly blamed the police for failing to keep order, just before the attack on the firefighter.
Ummah said that Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran, who had also blamed the police, should also be held accountable over the unrest at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Subang Jaya on Nov 27.
It also asked for the removal of Selangor state exco member V Ganabatirau, who issued statements that allegedly incited racial sentiments.
Ummah chairman Aminuddin Yahaya said the group has submitted a memorandum to prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, calling for the removal of Mr Moorthy, Mr Segaran and Mr Ganabatirau.
“These are the people who caused the chaos. Adib’s death is due to their attitude,” he was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insight.
“We demand justice. We demand that those who beat Adib and caused his death be brought to justice as soon as possible.”
Muhammad Adib died at the National Heart Institute on Monday night.
He suffered serious injuries while he was part of a team responding to a fire in front of the temple. Rioters allegedly pulled him out of his vehicle and attacked him.
The temple administration committee and the developer, One City Development, are in dispute over the piece of the land on which the temple stands.
The pressure on Mr Moorthy has been particularly intense, with almost 300,000 people signing an online petition calling for his removal. Some have said that given his national unity portfolio, he should not have been seen as championing the rights of a particular ethnic group.
Dr Mahathir said he has yet to decide whether Mr Moorthy should be asked to resign.
Over in Penang, around 100 members of civil society held a peaceful demonstration in front of a mosque after Friday prayers.
“The police must do their duty, don’t be so slow. They must arrest those responsible and charge them with murder,” Mr Azmi Jaafar, a participant at the demonstration, was quoted as saying by Malay Mail.
Mirroring the group in Putrajaya, they demanded the removal of Mr Moorthy and Mr Ganabathirau.