Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Tanjong 3 Ceramah held at Rumah Hijau Mak Mandin in Butterworth on Thursday, 16th June 1994 at 8 p.m.
Samy Vellu should discipline the MIC Assemblyman for Prai, V. Muthusamy not only for his failure to speak up in the Penang State Assembly over tactless police handling of the Butterworth Sri Mariamman Temple fire-walking ceremony incident on May 23, but in distorting the incident and insulting the Hindu devotees
MIC President, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu should ask the MIC Assemblyman for Prai, V. Muthusamy, to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him not only for his failure to speak up in the Penang State Assembly over tactless and insensitive police handling of the Butterworth Sri Mariamman Temple fire-walking ceremony incident on May 23, but in distorting the incident and insulting the Hindu devotees who took part in the ceremony and procession.
The Penang State Assembly, which now only meets once in six months, ended last Thursday after a nine-day meeting – but in the entire Penang State Assembly, the MIC Prai Assemblyman, V. Muthusamy did not give a single speech.
We had expected Muthusamy as Prai Assemblymen to raise in the State Assembly the tactless and insensitive police handling of the Butterworth Sri Mariamman Temple fire-walking ceremony and procession incident on May 23, which resulted in over 2,000 Hindu devotees gathering outside the Butterworth Police Station in protest for about five hours till past midnight.
However, Muthusamy did not say a single word. The DAP Assemblyman for Mak Mandin, Lim Hock Seng, raised the tactless and insensitive police handling of the Butterworth Sri Mariamman Temple fire-walking and procession incident on May 23 in the Penang State Assembly at the first available opportunity, by way of an urgent motion of definite public importance on the very first day of the Assembly. Unfortunately, Hock Seng’s motion was rejected by the Speaker, Datuk Abdul Rahman Abbas on the ground that it was not urgent although it complied with the other two conditions of being definite and of public importance.
During the last day of the Penang State Assembly meeting on 9th June 1994, Hock Seng moved a motion to censure the Barisan Nasional State Government for its failure to keep its Prai by-election promises.
Tsu Koon was either misinformed by Muthusamy about the Butterworth Sri Mariamman Temple incident or he was not being honest and truthful
In my speech during the debate, I spoke of the completely different attitude shown by the Penang Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon during the Prai by-election campaign in 1991 and after the Prai by-election.
I pointed out that during by Prai by-election, Tsu Koon was not only capable of making any promises about damaged roads, clogged drains and resolving flood problems, he was very responsive to any problem or call by the people of Prai. For instance, a few days before the by-election polling, Tsu Koon rushed to Chai Leng Park because of heavy flooding after a heavy downpour the previous night.
However, after the Prai by-election where the Barisan Nasional won Tsu Koon was completely different. Not only were Barisan Nasional promises including resolving damaged roads, clogged drains and flood problems completely forgotten, requests by the people of Prai went unheeded.
I referred to the requests by the Indians of Seberang Prai, many of whom were from Prai, for the Penang Chief Minister to come to the scene and intervene when tactless and insensitive police handling of the fire-walking ceremony and procession of the Sri Mariamman Temple of Jalan Jetty Lama, Butterworth on 23rd May caused great tensions and the massing of some 2,000 Hindu followers outside the Bagan Police Station. However, there was no response from Dr. Koh Tsu Koon who never turned up in Butterworth.
I questioned why Muthusamy, who knew that the people were asking for Tsu Koon at the time, could not get the Chief Minister to be present, especially as during the Prai by-election, Tsu Koon promised to appoint Muthusamy to ‘important posts’ in the State Government and that he would like to have an Indian representative “working closely with him”.
If Muthusamy could not or even dared not telephone Tsu Koon on May 23 night to ask him to be at the scene and intervene in the Sri Mariamman Temple fire-walking and procession incident, then clearly Muthusamy was not playing any useful role in the State Government whatsoever.
At this stage of my speech in the State Assembly, Koh Tsu Koon interjected and made certain unfounded allegations against me. Firstly, he said that when the Sri Mariamman Temple firewalking and procession incident took place, Muthusamy was at the scene and was responsible for resolving the issue at about 11 p.m. He alleged that it was only after the problem was resolved by Muthusamy that I turned up and that I was claiming credit for the ‘settlement’ of the issue.
What Tsu Koon alleged was completely untrue – and he was either misinformed by Muthusamy or he was not being honest and truthful.
Muthusamy even stood up to claim that he had been at the Police Station since 9 p.m. that day, and that Lim Hock Seng appeared at the police station after he had resolved the matter with the police at about 11 p.m. Muthusamy also accused DAP supporters of creating the trouble over the incident.
This angered Hock Seng who stood up and told the Assembly that Muthusamy only appeared at the Butterworth Police Station at about 10 p.m., when the incident first occurred at 6.30 p.m.
Hock Seng was at the scene right from the beginning of the procession of the Sri Mariamman goddess at 2.30 p.m. and joined the ceremony till 6 p.m. when he went home for an hour. When he returned at 7 p.m., he found that emotions and feelings ran very high over the tactless and insensitive action by some police personnel. The Hindu devotees had an emotional meeting at the Temple and decided to march to the police station to protest.
Hock Seng urged the Hindu devotees to be calm and advised them to send representatives to the Police Station instead of going en masse. However, the feeling were so high that they all went, to the police station, where over 2,000 people gathered in protest at the tactless and insensitive police handling of the fire-walking ceremony and procession.
Hock Seng said Muthusamy appeared at the Butterworth Police Station at about 10 p.m. that night and it was impossible that Muthusamy did not see Hock Seng at the Police Station as only 12 persons were allowed in Hock Seng said Muthusamy was telling a blatant lie when Muthusamy claimed that Hock Seng arrived at the Police Station after him.
Hock Seng revealed that police reports were lodged by the Hindu devotees at the police station that night over the tactless and insensitive police incident, which involved two police personnel using machine guns.
He also said that Muthusamy scolded the Hindu devotees who had lodged police reports.
Although Muthusamy later admitted that he arrived back to Prai late that night because he was at the Shanbandar Raya by-election in Selangor, he joined the other Barisan Nasional Assemblymen in belitting the whole incident, suggesting that the Hindu devotees had been ‘incited’ by the DAP to create and aggravate the May 23 incident.
Tsu Koon’s attempt to ‘politicise’ the whole Butterworth Sri Mariamman Temple incident, alleging that I was trying to ‘claim credit’ for the issue, was most irresponsible.
When I challenged Tsu Koon to give one instance where I was claiming credit for the settlement of the Butterworth Sri Mariaman Temple incident, Tsu Koon could not reply.
There is no doubt that if the Butterworth Sri Mariamman Temple incident had happened during the Prai by-election, Tsu Koon would have been the first to be present at the scene.
I specifically asked Tsu Koon whether Muthusamy had telephoned that night to convey the requests of the Hindu devotees to intervene to resolve the incident. If he had been contacted and he refused to rush to Butterworth to resolve the issue, then he was being irresponsible. If he knew nothing about the incident, which dragged out for over six hours well past midnight that day, then the Chief Minister was also irresponsible because of incompetence.
Muthusamy and other Barisan Nasional Assemblymen regarded the Butterworth Sri Mariamman Temple incident on May 23 as a joke
During the debate in the State Assembly, Muthusamy and the other Barisan Nasional Assemblymen regarded the Butterworth Sri Mariamman Temple incident on May 23 as a ‘joke’, and I censured this attitude expressing my outrage at the disrespect shown to the Hindu religion and Hindu devotees in the State Assembly including irresponsible allegations that the Hindu devotees were incited and exploited by the DAP to create and aggravate the May 23 incident.
In the State Assembly, I deplored the irresponsible attitude of Muthusamy – reminding him that this was the reason why he was ‘booed’ by the Hindu devotees at the Butterworth Sri Mariamman Temple after midnight of May 23 – as well as the irresponsible attitude of other Barisan Assemblymen, which was insensitive and disrespectful of other religions in Malaysia.
I told them that they might regard the whole incident as a joke, but it was no joke to the 10,000 Hindu devotees who gathered in Butterworth the next day – the second day of the three-day fire-walking ceremony of Butterworth Sri Mariaman Temple, the Indian community as a whole as Malaysians generally.
I also stressed that Assemblymen who could regard such a serious issue as a joke were not fit to be elected representatives in the multi-racial Malaysian society. I specifically told Muthusamy that it was a shame that he could claim to represent the Indians in Malaysia when he could take part in belitting the Sri Mariamman Temple fire-walking ceremony and the incident on May 23.
It is for this reason that I call on the MIC President Datuk Samy Vellu to ask Muthusamy to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against the MIC Prai Assemblymen.