Timely intervention of minister stopped DBKL officers from tearing down the place of worship.
KUALA LUMPUR: A temple, which was in the midst of demolition by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), was saved in Kepong today, after timely intervention of Federal Territory and Urban Wellbeing Minister Raja Nong Chik Zainal Abidin.
The Veppam Kaliamman Amman temple, along Jalan Kepong, received an eviction notice only at 8.30 this morning, and work to break down the temple began 15 minutes later.
The temple committee, stunned at the speed of the whole exercise, immediately called the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Deputy Minister M Saravanan, who is in charge of temples in the federal capital.
FMT learnt that the deputy minister had in turn called top officials of the Federal Territory land office under the purview of the ministry but they refused to take orders to stop the demolition.
Saravanan was told that the land division was only answerable to the minister and when he contacted the minister, Raja Nong Chik Zainal Abidin, the latter immediately ordered the demolition stopped.
“Luckily the minister was available to talk… otherwise, I do not know what would have happened.
“But within 15 minutes, before I could reach the spot, DBKL enforcement officers had already torn off the temple’s awning. I am very disappointed with DBKL. They know if any temple was to be demolished, a proper discussion must be held but in this case this was not done.
“The eviction notice was prepared only yesterday and handed to the temple committee at 8.30am this morning and demolition started at 8.45am. This is utter nonsense… this is a classic case of little Napoleons running the show,” said Saravanan, who was clearly irked with the incident.
Who changed land status?
The deputy minister said he did not even ask the demolition be cancelled but just asked for it to be postponed until a proper discussion was held.
The temple even had a letter from Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak allowing it to operate on a temporary basis as it sits on government land, he said.
“The land was originally reserved for place of worship… but somehow along the way the status of the land was changed to a Muslim place of worship… it can’t be because the land is beside a sewerage treatment plant. I don’t think Muslims would want a surau or a mosque there.
“How was the land status changed without prior notice? Who changed the status of the land without any knowledge of the deputy minister?” Saravanan asked.
“I am really sad that this has happened… while the prime minister is working hard to win support of all Malaysians, we have little Napoleons running about creating havoc and damage to the Barisan Nasional-led government,” he added.
Meanwhile, the temple committee has lodged a report at Jinjang police station against DBKL for trying to tear down the temple.
B Periasamy, the patron of the temple, wanted the police to act against DBKL for not giving proper notice before attempting to demolish the place of worship.
“I am also disappointed with DBKL enforcement officers. They were very arrogant and totally refused to hear our pleas for them to stop the demolition… They seemed so heartless,” he told FMT.
No alternative land given
Periasamy, 43, an odd-job worker, said the temple was originally founded in Segambut some 20 years ago but was transferred to Metro Barat, Kepong, last year.
“The temple is a registered temple and the current land was given by Saravanan. In May this year, a DBKL officer approached me and asked me to relocate the temple as the land had been earmarked to build a surau.
“However, no alternative land was given. All this was only done verbally. DBKL didn’t give any notice.
“And all of a sudden this morning they came, wanting to tear down the temple. We did not see any eviction notice until today and the notice was dated yesterday.
“When you want to evict someone, don’t you need to give time for them to move? Furthermore, this is not a house or business dwelling… it’s a temple,” he added.
Asked to elaborate on the incident, Periasamy said about 35 DBKL enforcement officers with 15 policemen arrived at the temple at about 8.30 this morning.
“We rushed to the temple after being told of this development. We tried to convince them by showing the deputy minister’s letter and other evidence to stop the demolition but they started to smash the shrine with backhoe machines,” added.
“I feel very sad that when the prime minister is promoting the 1Malaysia concept, we have this kind of civil servants. His own civil service is sabotaging him,” he said.
He also said if the BN government was serious about the 1Malaysia concept, then DBKL should apologise for the incident while all DBKL officers involved must be severely punished.
“We also want DBKL to rebuild the temple,” he added.
On another development, PKR vice- president N Surendran who visited the site this afternoon, expresed shock over the incident.
“Why are they [DBKL officers] so eager to demolish the temple when they were the ones who allowed the temple to be here a year ago?” he asked.
He added that it was ridiculous for DBKL to try demolish the temple without any proper notice.
He said Raja Nong Chik must provide a proper explanation and ensure incidents like this do not recur.