The Johor government should have halted the demolition of a Hindu temple on a humanitarian basis, said Johor Jaya assemblyperson Liow Cai Tung today.
Located in Liow's constituency, the Sri Sakti Sri Sinna Karuppar Aalayam temple had served the local Hindu community in Seri Alam, Masai for the past 80 years.
It was demolished two days ago and temple committee members claimed police personnel and contractors had barred them from entering the site to salvage any statues. They also claimed they were previously given until today (Jan 13) for the demolition.
Liow, who is also DAP Youth deputy chief, contended that a resolution should have been achieved between the authorities and temple committee members before any demolition work was done.
“Despite the fact that the temple did not own the land it sat on, on a humanitarian basis, the government should have halted all plans for the land until issues with the temple were solved.
“For example, in Selangor and Penang, either compensation or the moving of religious structures will be discussed and done before any demolition.
“The state government should have held discussions before demolishing the temple, and it should have given priority to conserving the temple.
“However, this incident shows the state government has failed...it has neglected the interest of local communities,” she said in a statement after visiting the demolition site with Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy today.
Both Selangor and Penang are opposition-run states.
Johor Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin called for calm yesterday, saying that the temple’s demolition stemmed from a longstanding land dispute.
He noted that the present landowners had acquired the land in 1995 and had obtained a court order last year after sending several unsuccessful eviction notices to the temple authorities.
The state government had previously offered a new plot of state-owned land to the temple as a replacement, but the proposal was rejected by temple management.