SEREMBAN: The four teenage boys detained in connection with the splashing of red paint on a new surau were probably retaliating after being told off for playing with fireworks near the surau, police said Tuesday.
Negri Sembilan police chief SAC I Datuk Osman Salleh said based on the initial police probe, the incident had nothing to do with race or religious issues.
"It was just the work of a few naughty teenagers who may have acted after they were told off by residents for setting off fireworks near the surau," he told a press conference here.
The boys, aged 16 to 18, were reprimanded on Sunday night after playing with fireworks near the surau in Taman Pulai Impian in Sikamat, near here.
Early Monday, residents found splashes of red paint on the wall and floor of the surau, and pieces of broken liquor bottles in the drain.
The suspects, who were nabbed late Monday and early Tuesday, are being investigated under section 295 of the Penal Code for defiling a place of worship.
Meanwhile, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong, who visited the surau Tuesday, commended the police for their swift action.
He warned that such an incident should not have happened in the first place.
"We deeply regret that such a thing happened but it should not be used to incite racial sentiments.
"“It was an act by impulsive teenagers and nothing more," he told reporters.
Lee, who made a personal donation of RM1,000 to the surau committee to clean up the mess, said the ministry would not hesitate to take stern action against any individual or group who threatened the country's peace and security.
Surau committee head Mohd Hasbi Ismail said he was glad the matter was resolved and that the situation was under control.
Mohd Hasbi said members of the surau committee were now taking turns to keep watch over the building during the night until the end of Ramadan.
Rasah MP Anthony Loke, who visited the surau Monday morning, presented a RM3,000 donation on behalf of a well-wisher to the committee.
"When such incidents occur, it is heartening to know there is solidarity. We have to come together and offer our moral support regardless of race and religion."
Vandals splash paint on surau