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MIC hands protest memo to Selangor government over demolition of Hindu temple in Ampang (Updated)

SHAH ALAM, 29 Sept 2008: About 300 people from the MIC and non-governmental organisations gathered peacefully outside the Selangor government secretariat building today to protest against the demolition of the Sri Maha Kaliaman temple by the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) on 9 Sept.

According to a Bernama report, the group headed by MIC Youth chief T Mohan gathered at about 11.30am and displayed banners outside the building that houses the office of Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

The gathering dispersed around noon after Mohan handed a memorandum to Abdul Khalid’s political secretary Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

Mohan told reporters the memorandum called on the state government to rebuild the Hindu temple at a different site and provide it legal status.

He said the memorandum also called on the state government to honour the Pakatan Rakyat promise, when it took over from the Barisan Nasional government after the general election on 8 March 2008, that no temples would be demolished.

“We are aware [that] many temples in Malaysia do not have permits and land has to be applied for to build temples but that does not mean you can demolish temples as you like without following procedures,” Mohan was quoted as saying in the Bernama report.

According to past news reports, the Selangor government has clarified that the MPAJ had acted on its own and gone against the state government’s directive that barred the demolition of places of worship.

In a report in The Star on 25 Sept, Selangor local government, study and research committee chairman Ronnie Liu said the state government had issued an order asking all local councils to halt such demolition since the Pakatan Rakyat government came into power after the general election.

In another report, state executive councillor Dr A Xavier Jayakumar said while the MPAJ had the right to take action on the temple, which was built on forest reserve land, the local council should have sought the state government’s permission before demolishing the temple.

“The state government was not informed of this matter,” he was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times on 29 Sept.

“According to our guidelines, local authorities must seek permission from the state executive council before demolishing any place of worship,” he said.

He added that the council had been directed to submit a report on the demolition.

Meanwhile, Kapar Member of Parliament S Manickavasagam has denied rumours that he has resigned as the Selangor Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) deputy chairman, following the spat over the demolition of the temple.

In a Bernama report on 29 Sept, he said he would, however, resign if the state government failed to take action against the MPAJ officers who were responsible for the demolition.

He also did not rule out the possibility of quitting the party if he was not satisfied with the way the state government handled the matter.

In a statement, Manickavasagam said he was disappointed that the temple demolition could happen in a Pakatan Rakyat-ruled state.

He said it showed that there were weaknesses in the state government’s administration, which needed to be rectified immediately.

“As such, I urge the Selangor menteri besar to form a special committee to investigate the incident and take stern action against those responsible for failing to abide by the state government’s directive,” he added.

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