Panel members eager to uncover truth behind Adib’s 2018 death, address other issues, deficiencies

Members of the special committee set up to investigate the 2018 death of firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim are still waiting for their appointment letters and terms of reference.

Two of them, Datuk Dr P. Sundramoorthy (main image, left), and Datuk Dr Bhupinder Singh said they are committed to finding out the truth, and vowed that justice would finally prevail.

Sundramoorthy is an honorary associate professor (criminology) at the School of Social Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, while Dr Bhupinder is the senior consultant forensic pathologist at the Penang Medical College.

“Apart from the facts that contributed to Muhammad Adib’s passing, I hope we will be able to address circumstances surrounding his death, including policy issues and how corporations handle matters, including land evictions,” said Sundramoorthy.

“In my discipline, we want to know what was right, and what went wrong. There is the issue of religion at play here… We also need to look at policies related to the police, and the Fire Department, on how they deal with crowd control, and the dispersal of people.”

Sundramoorthy said while there may not be weaknesses in the existing system, there may be societal issues that needed to be addressed.

Policies, he added, could sometimes be outdated. What is important is to address all loopholes and any deficiencies to ensure that this does not happen again.

“We are not here to find fault. We are here to offer solutions and suggestions to address issues or shortcomings,” said Sundramoorthy.

Muhammad Adib was seriously injured in the riots at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in USJ 25, Subang Jaya, Selangor, on Nov 27, 2018. He succumbed to his injuries three weeks later, on Dec 17.

The incident led to an inquest being conducted by coroner Rofiah Mohamad. On Sept 27, 2019, Rofiah ruled that Muhammad Adib’s death was due to a criminal act perpetrated by more than two unidentified individuals.

“There were also reports in 2018, quoting former home minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, as saying that police investigations revealed that the lawyers for the developer involved in the issue, had hired thugs that lead to the riots.

“This must also be looked into, as it involves corporate social responsibility. Do companies resort to illegal means when it comes to these matters?” Sundramoorthy asked.

He hoped the committee would be allowed to do its job and that there would be no “trial by social media”.

“The other experts on the panel include the law minister, housing and local government minister, the home minister and the attorney-general. This shows that the committee is well-rounded and is able to look at the facts from various perspectives,” said Sundramoorthy.

“We hope the findings of the committee will bring about nothing less than positive changes, that the truth will be revealed, and that all weaknesses in the system will be appropriately addressed.”

Meanwhile, Dr Bhupinder, said it was important to find out what had actually happened, given the findings of the earlier inquest.

“We must re-examine thoroughly the evidence, and come to a determination, whether what was concluded earlier (by the coroner) is correct, or otherwise. It can go either way,” said Dr Bhupinder.

“We are an independent body looking at the overall picture, and we need to know the reasons that lead to (Muhammad Adib’s) death. This has to be clear, as more than one pathologist gave evidence during the inquest.

“In the end, it boiled down to whom the coroner chose to listen to,” he said.

On Saturday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar announced the composition of the committee. The other experts are former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Kamardin Hashim, Professor Datuk Dr Looi Lai Ming of University Malaya’s Faculty of Medicine, Bukit Aman Forensics’ principal assistant director SAC Azari Abd Rahman, and Royal Malaysia Police College, Centre for Investigation and Prosecution Science Studies head, SAC Mohammad Abd Hamid.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had, on Oct 9, announced the setting up of the committee to ensure a comprehensive investigation was carried out into Muhamamd Adib’s death.