Hisham explains his role in the affair

(The Star) OVER the past week, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has come under attack over his handling of the Shah Alam Section 23 cow head issue.

Some have taken offence that the Home Minister had chosen to meet with this group of protestors who had stepped and spat on the severed head of a cow – an animal that is sacred to Hindus – as part of their protest against the relocation of a Hindu temple to their area.

They lament that it is almost as if the protestors are being “rewarded” with a meeting with the minister. Some non-governmental groups too have gone as far as calling for the minister to resign from office or be sacked over the issue.

Hishammuddin, of course, has no plans to quit. He believes he has not said or done anything wrong on the issue.

In his defence, he told The Star through text messages that he had agreed to meet the protestors because they told him they were not the ones who had brought the cow’s head to the protest.

They said they were seeking to resolve the matter with the Hindu group and that their grievance was against the state government (not the Hindus).

“They wanted me to know. They were looking for anything that would work towards a win-win situation. So how could I refuse to see them? “ he said.

When Hishammuddin came out of that Sept 2 meeting and said he believed the group’s anger was directed at the Selangor state government and not the Hindus, people accused him of being biased and supportive of the protestors.

They lashed out at the Home Minister for bringing up the issue of a pig’s head being wrapped in an Umno flag and placed at the Umno building, as it implied that it is okay for the protestors to brandish and step on a severed cow’s head just because other communities have sent a pig’s head to Malays in the past.

(A day later, on Sept 3, when the minister came under fire in websites and blogs, he issued a press statement to clarify that he was not supportive of the Section 23 protestors’ unruly act and wanted the police to act.)

Hishammuddin said he raised the pig incident as a fact. There had been four incidents – two in KL and two in Malacca – and the case where the pig’s head was wrapped in an Umno flag and placed at the Umno headquarters happened on Oct 31 last year. The party had lodged a police report immediately on it (police report number 37722/2008).

“The case is still open and the police have not been able to trace who was reponsible for putting the pig’s head there.

“I raised it to show that cases are still under investigation because Malay Muslims are questioning why there has been no action on this. But in these cases, we have not been able to identify the people who placed it there. These matters do not revolve around a particular race or religion. What is wrong is wrong but we need proof to prosecute.”

On why there was no publicity on the Umno incident when it happened, the minister said: “Your guess is as good as mine. We didn’t hush it up. The other cases are also under investigation. It’s the normal process. It (only) becomes an issue if people want it to be an issue.

“The police, and Umno for that matter, are just being responsible and are allowing for the due process.”

Even so, the attacks against Hishammuddin have continued on the websites. Some have also accused him of being behind the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) move to ask Malaysiakini to remove the cow head protest video and his (Hishammuddin’s) Sept 2 interview from their news portal as they were deemed to be “offensive” and “provocative”. Malaysiakini has refused to do so.

Hishammuddin insisted that he has nothing to do with it and it is a “total lie” to say he instructed the MCMC to do that.

“They are not under my jurisdiction and are not answerable to me at all,” he added.