Temple chairman ready to cooperate with AG, says money safe in trust

K Chellappa says he is committed to finding a solution to the temple dispute. (File pic)

PETALING JAYA: The legally recognised administrator of the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple said he was prepared to cooperate with Attorney-General Tommy Thomas in finding a solution to the dispute over the temple’s relocation.

Speaking to FMT, K Chellappa also said money from One City Development Sdn Bhd, given as compensation for the temple’s relocation as agreed under a consent judgment in 2014, was kept in a trust managed by the developer’s lawyers.

“The society is prepared to account for the expenditure incurred so far if required by the relevant authorities,” Chellappa said.

But he said only one third of the RM1.5 million had been released to the temple society for the construction and maintenance of the temporary temple structure as well as for legal fees.

Chellappa said lawyers representing the temple had a meeting with their counterparts from the group protesting the relocation and officers from the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“I also want to stress that we were not involved in the protests on November 26 and 27, nor are we in any way associated with those involved in the protest,” he said.

Chellappa dismissed suggestions that he had absconded with the RM1.5 million compensation.

He said he had remained committed to the High Court consent judgment, and had never supported those against the temple’s relocation.

According to the judgment agreed by One City, the Selangor government, Chellappa, and M Nagaraju, the Sri Maha Mariamman temple land would be handed back to One City.

In exchange, the developer would give a piece of land for a new temple (Land A), another piece of land for the benefit of the temple (Land B), as well as a donation of RM1.5 million.

Nagaraju had lost a separate suit against Chellappa in his bid to take control of the temple management.

Chellappa said the court decision on the rightful temple manager was never challenged.

“Despite this, there were numerous failed protracted litigation by Nagaraju and others to set aside the consent judgment or impeach the decision on the management of the temple,” he said.

Chellappa said Nagaraju was subsequently declared a vexatious litigant in matters concerning the temple.

“By reason of this protracted litigation the society was unable to take possession of the temple.”

Meanwhile, Chellappa said the temple was advised that Land A was not suitable for its new site, as it was situated on a piece of land for the construction of a highway interchange.

As such, he said the temple waived its rights to Land A to One City which paid it an additional RM1 million, and opted to move to Land B.

Chellappa said the facts of the dispute were clear, and hoped there would be no more misunderstanding.

“In the meantime, we will not be issuing any more media statements as the AG looks into the matter.”