Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hindu Sangam to Khir: what about us?

January 6, 2008
Hindu Sangam to Khir: What about us?
The Malaysia Hindu Sangam (MHS) is the rightful body for the Selangor state government to consult in regards to Hindu temples, said its deputy president Thiagaraja Ratnasamy today.

Thiagaraja was responding to news reports that Selangor Menteri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo had a meeting “700 temple representatives” to discuss the controversial state demolition of temples.

Formed in 1965, MHS is the biggest Hindu temple umbrella group in the country and had a track record of handling such issues, said Thiagaraja.

This includes liaising with the late K Sivalingam who was a Selangor state exco member in charge of non-Muslim affairs and drawing guidelines for Kuala Lumpur City Hall regarding demolition of temples.

“Before the Menteri Besar implements any guidelines in Selangor, he must first have an actual and meaningful dialogue with the actual representatives of temples.

“With 1,802 temples nationwide as members of the MHS, it would appear that we are best placed to assist the state government in this,” said Thiagaraja in a statement today.

Politically motivated?

MHS’ role as an umbrella body for Hindu organisations looks shaken with the establishment of the Malaysian Hindu Council (MHC) and its influence on Hindu temple affairs.

MHC is headed by Jalan Bandar Maha Mariamman temple and Batu Caves temple president R Nadarajah. Nadarajah is a notable businessman who is also known for his close links with MIC president S Samy Vellu.

The meeting with the temple representatives was facilitated by the MHC yesterday, where Khir announced that the state government would not demolish any Hindu temples over the next six months.

During that time frame, the temple committees within Selangor have to form a self-regulatory body to deal directly with the state government on erecting, demolishing and relocating temples.

Observers note that the move by MHS and Khir to set up the committee was likely to drum up support for the Barisan Nasional in the upcoming general election.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Representative from about 700 Hindu temples in Selangor met in a close-door dialogue with Menteri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo yesterday to discuss problems faced by the temples.

The meeting was facilitated by the Malaysian Hindu Council (MHC), a newly-formed umbrella body that claims to represent Hindu temples and Hindu-based organisations in Malaysia.

The purpose of the meeting was to allow the temple representative to discuss matters pertaining to temple demolition, renovation and building of new temples in the state with Khir.

After the dialogue, Malaysiakini asked temple representatives for their comments on the dialogue.

One temple committee member who declined to be named said the menteri besar didn't answer most of the issues raised by the Hindu temples. Instead he is claimed to have chimed in with projects the Barisan Nasional government had done for the Hindu community.

“He didn't say much, but just (speaking to) gain support for BN in the election,” he said.

However, the representative from a temple in Klang welcomed the financial allocation for Hindu temples as promised by Khir as it was what they are duly entitled to.

In his speech, Khir had asked the audience whether they agree to set up a body to self-regulate Hindu temples in Selangor. There were no response from the audience at first.

Khir then reiterate his question for the second time asking “agree or not?”. Only then majority of the audience said “agree” and gave an applause.

Problems with the new body

However, another temple representative approached by Malaysiakini at the event told that he did not understand why the state government wanted to set up a new regulatory body for Hindu temples.

“In his speech, he (Khir) said the state government already have a committee to take care the Hindu matters. So why (need to set up) a new committee?” asked the temple representative from Banting.

The temple representative was referring to the committee for non-Muslim places of worship in the Selangor government, whose members include non-Muslim state executive councilors.

He also said the setting up a new regulatory body will only cause more problems to Hindu temples as there would be overlapping regulations by the government and the body.

Another temple representative said that he did not see any concrete outcome from the dialogue.

When asked to comment on the memorandum submitted to the Selangor government, he said, “we support the memorandum but if the government is not doing anything about it, (there is) no use (to send any memorandum),” he added.

Demanding government assistance

At the event, a memorandum was submitted to the state government by Malaysian Hindu Council on behalf of Hindu temples in the state:

In the 13-paged memorandum, MHC proposed, among others, that:

- all Hindu temples to be legalised and state government draw up a guideline on legality of Hindu temples upon consultation with Hindu bodies

- certain procedures should be followed in the event of demolition and removal of temples

- government to give a waiver for utilities like electricity, water, sewerage, quit rent and and also assessment

- Hindus should be given the liberty to build a temple to their own specifications

- registration of temple committees with the Registrar of Societies should be made easier

The event was held at Perangsang Templer Golf Club in Rawang. It was originally planned to be held at Batu Caves but later changed to the golf club to accommodate the big number of attendees.

Objections to MHC and Nadarajah

The event started at 5.00pm with speech by MHC chairperson R Nadarajah followed by Khir's speech. Members of the press was asked to leave the venue to allow Khir and temple representatives to talk in private.

During the dialogue, Khir answered the issues raised by temples representatives for about one and a half hour. State exco A Kamala Ganapathy took over from Khir when he left the hall for a press conference with Nadarajah.

The meeting between Hindu temple representatives and Selangor mentri besar had received objection by a group of Indian NGOs earlier. The NGOs questioned the credibility of MHC and Nadarajah to handle the meeting.

Last year, Selangor government took action to demolish all places of worship claimed to be illegally built. The matter was at its height when a 100-year-old temple in Rimba Jaya demolished by the local authority with use of violence and force.

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