May 25, 06 5:29pm Malaysiakini
Some 100 Hindus and rights activists took to the streets today to voice their anger with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) for demolishing three temples since February.
The crowd, carrying placards and banners, had gathered outside the DBKL office to hand a memorandum to Mayor Ruslin Hasan.
The protest began with prayer chants and a coconut breaking ritual before a delegation of lawyers, priests and devotees led by Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) chief P Waytha Moorthy attempted to enter the building.
A confrontation between several City Hall officers and the group ensued, as the former attempted to limit the amount of protestors into the building to five.
Faced with a stalemate, the group decided against handing the memorandum as Ruslin was away on official business while the designated City Hall representative, deputy director of services Mohd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz had refused to meet the protestors.
Disappointed but undeterred, Waytha Moorthy told reporters later that the memorandum would still be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Department to ensure that the issue is given due attention.
The bellowing discontent among the country’s Hindu devotees appears to be over the present administration’s failure to recognise the sanctity of places of worship.
According to Waytha Moorthy, Hindu temples nationwide were build by Indian migrant labourers on private land acquired by local and state authorities, who now argue that the temples are illegal buildings.
Such temples, are often more than a century old, serve devotees mainly from the lower income groups who are unable to afford legal action to protect the buildings.
Also present at the protest was Parti Keadilan Rakyat information chief Tian Chua, who said it is sad that the authorities failed to recognise these temples as national heritage.
“Preservation of these temples is what it means to be multi-cultural and multi-religious Malaysia,” he added.
Waytha Moorthy observed that even the hardline Islamist party PAS, who is governing in Kelantan and formerly in Terengganu had never taken such actions against Hindu temples.
Based on the memorandum, the latest temple demolition case involving City Hall was reported at the 60-year-old Aum Sri Siva Balakrishnan Muniswarar temple in Setapak on May 11, allegedly involving a 100 City Hall officers and riot police.
Waytha Moorthy contends that such actions are in violation of Article 11 of the Federal Constitution on freedom of religion and blatant criminal offences as stipulated under Section 295 of the Penal Code for “injuring or defiling a place of worship”.
The memorandum also suggested that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi issue a firm directive to all federal, state and local authorities to stop any planned demolishment and to recognise the rights to existence of such temples.
Furthermore, Hindraf is seeking for allocations of sufficient places of worship in all new townships, by including such provisions in the Local Government Act read in accordance with Article 11 of the Federal Constitution.