On the Sri Maha Kaliamman shrine September 30, 2008Posted by elizabethwong in Current Affairs, Human Rights, Malaysia, Note2Self, Politics, Race Relations.
Tags: Ampang, Sri Maha Kaliamman Temple, temple
We have seen and felt the anguish of those who were forced to defend their temples and even suraus in past years, usually due to a parcel of land being subjected to development. I have seen my friend Uthayakumar beaten and arrested defending century-old temples and shrines – and now he has been detained without trial under the ISA for a year.
So when the rakyat gave us an opportunity to govern Selangor on 8 March, this means we have to try to do things differently, and attempt to rectify the mistakes of the past as far as possible. In fact, I touched on this issue in my speeches during the election campaign earlier this year.
The Pakatan Rakyat Selangor state government policy is clear:- That no place of worship (whether surau, tokong, kuil, church etc.) built prior to 8 March 2008 is to be demolished, unless and until a suitable site has been identified for relocation.
So, imagine our horror when we found out a Hindu shrine was demolished recently. No doubt it might have been built in a forest reserve or wherever for that matter, but the policy still stands regardless; we begin with the premise that most of these places of worship were forced over the years into this grey zone, and neglected until recently.
MPAJ should not have done what it did and more so, when it is not within its jurisdiction but of Forestry Department since it is a forest reserve. This afternoon, I checked with Forestry officers and (I am somewhat relieved) they were neither involved nor aware of the operation.
This lack of compliance of directives from the Pakatan Rakyat state government is something we have been battling from Day 1. However, this is not saying everyone is recalcitrant or trying to sabotage us, but there were a number of occasions which raised eyebrows and voices. Still, the MB is somewhat very optimistic that we are able to reason and to convince all the staff that ‘our’ way or the Pakatan Rakyat’s policies are better for all.
But not in the above case of clear defiance which reeks of sabotage. Suffice to say, we have taken action on the high-ranking officer who gave the order for the demolition (and who can’t possibly feign ignorance in this matter) and amends shall be made.
(But since I have stated my preference to the Menteri Besar that only one of us speak, as opposed to four, five spokespersons in the past couple of days, I shall let the person-in-charge give the public the details later today.)
The larger picture is this:- Many of these sites of worship have been built in the last 50 years or so (if not longer) on grounds not gazetted or unsuitable for religious purposes. This is due to the practice of town planning based on politics as opposed to needs and foresight. They should not be forced to go under high tension wired places or on river reserves, or in forests and factory lots – they deserve to be part of our Malaysian public landscape (and in fact, some should be considered part of our history and heritage). Which is why I am proposing to some of the local draft plans that are undergoing review to start putting in areas for religious purposes (apart from more cemeteries, parks etc.). At the same time, the process of registering these places of worship is also ongoing.
This issue is not just an ‘Indian’ issue, but one which every Pakatan Rakyat representative, regardless of one’s ethnic or religious background, is committed to resolving.
To my Hindu friends and readers, please accept my apologies and at the same time, I sincerely urge everyone to allow our Pakatan Rakyat government to continue to make things right and to implement just and sustainable solutions to our multiple, long-standing problems.