RM2 mil raised so far for temple fund, says Vincent Tan

Business tycoon Vincent Tan hopes Ayala Corporation will give a very big discount or donate the entire land to the temple to settle the dispute. (Bernama pic)

SUBANG JAYA: Business tycoon Vincent Tan has managed to raise RM2 million so far for a fund he started on Friday to buy the land where the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple is located from its owners.

The temple is resisting efforts by the developer, One City Development Sdn Bhd, to vacate the land and relocate to a nearby place provided. Violence broke out over two nights last week over the dispute.

Tan hoped that Ayala Corporation, the largest conglomerate in the Philippines, will be “charitable” in resolving the issue.

Ayala has a stake in MCT Bhd, which owns One City Development Sdn Bhd, the owner of the land on which the temple is located.

On Friday, it was reported that Tan had pledged RM500,000 for the fund he set up in order to raise some RM15 million to buy the plot of land, which is at the centre of a dispute that has since led to a violent protest.

He said the idea behind the fundraising initiative was to buy the land from the developer and allow the temple to remain at its current location.

Tan said it would be “difficult” to expect the Selangor government to buy over the land.

This evening, Tan said the matter can be resolved but he needed the help of Ayala, a company which he said is “very charitable”.

“I’m sure they will come up with a solution.

“So, let’s wait for them. They could be very charitable and maybe give a very big discount or donate the entire land. We leave it to them,” he told reporters when met at the site.

The 1.1-acre temple land is estimated to be worth between RM14.37 million and RM15.33 million.

The dispute over the land, namely between temple devotee M Nagaraju and the temple management, represented by K Chellappa, has been going on for many years.

Nagaraju was a party in a civil suit which included the Selangor government, One City and the temple management, represented by Chellappa.

According to a consent judgement reached in court in March 2014, the parties agreed that One City would provide land for a new temple, as well as a donation of RM1.5 million, in return for vacant possession of the temple land at USJ25.

The temple was slated for relocation on Nov 22 as part of the consent judgement.

But in an about-turn, Nagaraju supported a faction at the temple that insisted that it remain at its present location.

Violence broke out at the temple on Monday after a group entered the temple and was involved in a clash with those inside. This led to 18 cars being torched and several people being injured. The violence continued the following night.

Police have detained 58 people for investigations.

Tan also announced that he will be donating RM50,000 to fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, 24, who was injured by rioters in the violence when he was rushing to put off a fire.

“We are making the contribution to Adib on humanitarian grounds to help with his treatment and wedding this month,” he told journalists.

Adib is now recovering at the National Heart Institute (IJN).