By P Ramasamy
If housing developers could take their corporate responsibility seriously, the number of Hindu temples being abandoned or subjected to vandalism by mysterious forces, can be minimised greatly.
Why are so many Hindu temples vandalised in Penang? Is there some extreme mysterious curse against Hindu places of worship? Within a matter of two months, three temples were vandalised – two within a matter of one week in Penanti, the mainland, and two days ago one temple in Sg Nibong Kecil, on the island.
About two years ago a Hindu temple and Buddhist temple were desecrated in Penang. Although the culprit was nabbed, the police, however, claimed he was mentally unsound.
The question is why are Hindu temples being targeted in Penang? Is this the work of extreme forces, or due to internal divisions within the Hindu community or the work of hired contractors who have to clear temples and squatter settlements for development?
In the case of Sri Mathurai Veeran temple in Sungei Nibong Kecil, in the Southwest district of Penang Island, the temple was supposed to be relocated. In fact, I met the owners of the land, Hunza Properties, twice to see whether they could allocate an alternative piece of land.
Hunza Properties have not responded to me to date. Meanwhile I am also trying to obtain land allocated for non-Muslim places of worship to accommodate this temple.
I doubt that this temple was unused as stated by the police. Even if the temple was not active, it does not give any excuse for the developer or his agents or others to remove or destroy the deities.
The police must act and act fast before other Hindu temples in the state are destroyed. In the case of the temples in Penanti, the police have not made any arrests.
Hunza Properties is a major developer in Penang. They should not delay in the granting of land for the relocation of the temple. Neither should they pass the burden to the state. State land for the relocation of temples is fast shrinking.
Due to the high cost of land and the great profits to be made in selling houses, developers in Penang are shirking their social and corporate responsibility. Although they are some who take their social responsibility seriously, there are others who are prone to pass this responsibility to the state.
I am sure the state and relevant agencies have imposed rules and regulations on developers to set aside land for non-Muslim places of worship but the implementation seems to be problematic.
Related article: Vandals damage statue of Hindu deity
P Ramasamy is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.
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