The politics of the Batu Caves condo controversy

The Batu Caves condo controversy

Another political ploy

The recent demonstration by about 300 people against the construction of a 29-storey condominium near the iconic Sri Subramaniar Temple in Batu Caves opens up another controversy that was created and is being capitalised on by politicians as the general election draws ever nearer.

It is strange that the very people who approved the project in 2007 are now publically demonstrating against it being implemented by another party.

The reason given for their opposition to the condominium is that it is too close and poses a danger to the temple which is the focus of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year from all over the world. They are also deeply concerned about its unfavourable effects on the surrounding environment.

While admitting that citizens have the right to demonstrate against any project they feel will be harmful to the people and environment, some questions remain as to the timing and the people who are demonstrating against it.

Why were there no official complaints whatsoever since the project was approved five years ago? Why is that that the very people involved in its approval are now vehemently against it?

Why has the temple committee allowed itself to be manipulated by members of the ruling party led by none other than the former works minister?

The initial reaction by representatives of the Selangor government as usual was to engage in a blame game and absolve themselves from any responsibility as the project was approved and implemented by BN in 2007.

The issue is not about who is responsible but whether things were done in accordance with the laws and in good faith with the welfare of the people at heart.

Obviously this issue is being politicised where both BN and Pakatan are blaming each other for approving the project.

However the prompt intervention by Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim to issue a stop-work order and a review of the project by independent experts is commendable. Delaying such action may lead to things becoming ugly and racially exploited by our opportunistic politicians.

It was a right and timely move by him to put a stop to the further escalation of the blame game.

Khalid's decision may not be politically expedient but it is the right thing to do. For far too long we had leaders who placed political expediency above righteousness and Khalid's action brings some reassurance to the people, whose will must prevail at all times.

The people must always be the winner in any dispute between politicians and their parties.

The Batu Caves condo controversy reveals a gross defect in our system of administration - irresponsible local councillors who are subservient to their political masters who appointed them.

It is time for our local councillors to be democratically elected by the people to truly represent their interests and not theirs or their political masters.