This appears to be the first time Samy Vellu had spoken out strongly on the issue which has been dogging the Hindu community, particularly in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, for the past few years.
Samy Vellu, who is also the works minister, said he had raised the issue several times during meetings with state government leaders but temples were still being demolished.
The most recent example, was the demolition
of a temple in Kampung Karuppiah (in Kampung Rimba Jaya), Shah Alam, yesterday which Samy Vellu said had “hurt the feelings” of residents there.
“It is common knowledge that the majority of Indian voters, if not all Indians in Malaysia, support Barisan Nasional.
“Thus, I urge the relevant authorities not to resort to the drastic action of demolishing temples even though they are not built legally,” he said in a statement faxed from the Works Ministry. 'We have no choice'
Samy Vellu said the Hindu community was forced to build temples on private or state land because the community did not have land to do so.
“I have on many occasions asked state and local governments to allot land for temples in every residential area, but it has yet to be implemented.
“Thus, the Hindu community has no choice but to build temples on land that is not theirs,” he added.
The veteran politician went on to quote the first pillar of the Rukun Negara - Belief in God - adding that no one should be punished for practising their respective religion.
He also urged the relevant authorities to seek alternative land for temples which have been demolished or were scheduled to be demolished. 'No compromise'
The MIC president suggested that small temples be combined together on a larger piece of land.
“I will not compromise or tolerate anyone that does not take this issue seriously. I would also advise the Hindu community to only build temples on land where they are allowed to,” he said.
Yesterday, Samy Vellu visited Kampung Karuppiah after the demolition had taken place.
According to vernacular press reports, he was pelted with sticks and stones by angry residents.
He also reportedly lodged a complaint with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who was attending a function nearby.
Temple row: Suhakam slams authorities Andrew Ong
Oct 31, 07 5:02pm
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has condemned the manner employed by the authorities to demolish a Hindu temple in Shah Alam yesterday.
Suhakam commissioner Dr Denison Jayasooria (photo: left) said the incident showed that the authorities did not have respect for religious and cultural sensitivities.
“The authorities may have state or legal right to carry out the demolition, but the manner in which it was conducted requires far greater consideration,” he told a press conference at the Suhakam headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today.
“Suhakam has been repeating this so many times. But the authorities seem to be deaf. They cannot display simple human decency in responding to a crisis.
“Why make it a crisis when it can be settled amicably?” he said, adding that the demolition was untimely since the Hindu festival of Deepavali was only a week away.
Yesterday, scores of Hindu devotees were injured when they resisted attempts by the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) enforcement officials to demolish a temple in Rimba Jaya.
Some eye witnesses described the situation as a “near riot” as the two sides clashed. MBSA were backed by the riot police and other enforcement authorities.
The authorities claimed that the demolition was carried out based on a court order. Devotees, on the other hand, claimed that they were never notified of the demolition.
Based on information received from eye witnesses and press reports, Denison said Suhakam’s preliminary findings is that the devotees had asked for a two-day grace period in order to carry out necessary preparations to relocate.
Denison said the way the temple and the sacred items within the structure were destroyed by the authorities would be taken as great offence by the Hindu community.
He said that rightfully, the authorities should have respected the rights of the Hindu devotees to carry out the necessary rituals to safely remove the items.
“These processes take time. What is (the enforcement authorities’) hurry? Can’t they wait two days, three days or one more week?
“If they can cool down emotions, that achieves far more than bulldozing the issue,” he added.
Another Suhakam commissioner N Siva Subramaniam condemned the use of violence by the authorities to subdue the devotees.
“Based on press reporters, the enforcement authorities pelted the devotees with stones. Their actions must be condemned. As enforcers, they should not subject the people to cruelty,” he said.
Siva added that the authorities had displayed blatant abuse of power during the incident.
Numerous press reports today highlighted pictures of head and body injuries sustained by several devotees.
Both commissioners would try to convince Suhakam to hold a public inquiry on the matter. A decision on whether to hold a public inquiry would be made on Nov 12.
Siva added that the problem seemingly stems from the Selangor government’s policy as such occurrences are rare outside the state.
Denison said Suhakam had previously issued guidelines for the authorities on the demolition of places of worship and expressed regret that they had been ignored.
He stressed that the authorities needed to consult political parties and other stakeholders before taking action on places of worship because of the sensitivities involved.