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Hindraf success story #2 January 5, 2008

Posted by beritaman in Uncategorized.
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Selangor stops temple demolitions for six months 

The Selangor state government has announced a six-month moratorium on the demolition of Hindu temples in the state.

The six-month duration is to allow the temples themselves to establish a self-regulatory committee to deal directly with the state government on erecting, demolishing and relocating temples.

This was announced by Mentri Besar Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo after an hour long meeting with representatives of some 700 Hindu temples in the state in Rawang yesterday evening.

The meeting was facilitated by the newly set up Malaysian Hindu Council, headed by the Jalan Bandar Maha Mariamman temple and Batu Caves temple president R Nadarajah.

“The committee must come up with regulations and requirements in terms of qualifications of priests, locations of the temples and the funds needed and so on,” Khir said.

He also added that a newly build temple must comply with the regulations set by the committee and, the committee, after agreeing that the temple has met the requirements, will meet the state government for approval.

“We don’t want temples being built without approval. Suggestions from this committee will be discussed at the executive council level before approval (for building new temples) is given,” he added.

He said that MIC’s state exco member Kamala Ganapathy would assist the proposed committee.

Matter of legality

He also said that while waiting six months for the committee to be set up, the state would avoid taking action against temples built without approval.

However, relocation exercises would proceed for the temples that had agreed to be relocated, he added.

“We want everybody to work together in this matter. Once this regulatory body is put into frame, it will be easier for us to move on to the next step,” Khir said.

The dialogue session set up between Khir and the temple representatives, held at the Perangsang Templer Golf Club in the outskirts of the city, was to discuss the problems of the series of temple demolitions that have occurred in Selangor throughout last year.

The Indian community have accused Khir’s government of intolerable ruthlessness when it comes to dealing with the temple issue.

Khir and his government however pointed out that the temple issue was just a matter of “legality”, saying that the temples that have been demolished are those that were not built according to law.

“We must not look at this (temple demolition) from a prejudicial and cynical perspective. It is not race or religious bias that made us act on the temples, but a legal one,” stressed the chief minister in his speech earlier.

‘I have always been fair’

He said that in Selangor, besides Hindu temples, other religious edifices like the Muslim’s surau, the Chinese’ tokong have all faced state government action because they were built not in accordance to regulations.

“The only religious building that the state government have not taken action against are churches. Why? Because they were built in accordance with the law set by the state and the federal government,” he noted.

According to the chief minister, his government has always been fair to all races in the state.

To counter allegations that his administration practices religious bias, Khir said the accusers should look at the facts.

“In Selangor, the state government have approved the construction of 146 Hindu temples. If I practice religious bias, why are there 146 Hindu temples in Selangor?” he said.

In support of his claim, he added that his administration have allocated RM20 million for the construction of a Hindu Cultural Centre, which will be located at Batu Caves.

“I want people to understand the culture of the Indian Malaysians here so that all that the racial unity that our forefathers have strived to build will be safeguarded by future generations,” he said.

MIC’s council of temples

Following the meeting the temple representatives and the state government in Selangor, another such meeting would be held in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 13 involving all temple representatives from the city.

This was announced by MIC president S Samy Vellu today. He would be chairing the KL meeting. Many cases of temple demolitions are confined to Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

According to Bernama today, Samy Vellu said that without political support, the fate of temples, especially those built illegally would be in limbo.

He also said that MIC would be forming a council of Hindu temples in every state to protect the temples and resolve their problems through the state governments.

“The MIC considers the demolition of temples as a very serious political matter and it requires consultations from various parties,” he said in a statement.

As such, the council would be tasked with several functions, among others, to safeguard temples and to protect the integrity of the Hindu religion; to register temples which comply with the requirements; and to obtain permanent and suitable alternative sites for temples.

Samy Vellu said that if a temple was found to have been built on private or government land, the council would seek an alternative and suitable site for it.

“The council will also ascertain that the plans for all the temples have been submitted to the local authorities to prevent future problems. The council will get the approval for the plans once they have been submitted,” he said.

However, it would not interfere in the running of the temple or its administration, he added.

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