Temple demolition and the ‘strange’ happening

November 10, 2013 at 1:49 pm 37 comments

Below: The Malaysian Insider photo of the Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman temple that was demolished this morning.

According to today’s The J-Star report ‘City Hall resumes demolition of temple in Jalan P Ramlee (Update)‘, the temple was built in 1911. It was the only Hindu temple within the Bukit Bintang Golden Triangle.

temple_11102013_tminazirsufari_002_540_351_100

You can see that adjacent to where the temple was yesterday (today the temple is no more after a dawn raid), is a just completed 30-storey building. This spanking new office tower can only get its Certificate of Fitness (CF) if the contractor builds a 8-foot walkway.

The developer Hap Seng Land will build the walkway required of it on the piece of land on which the Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman temple was located.

This land is Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) reserve land.

BukitBintangtemple

Standoff with the DBKL: Photo by The J-Star today

The ‘illegal’ Hindu temple has apparently been squatting on the Jalan P. Ramlee land for more than 100 years.

What’s odd is the following sentence in the J-Star report today — “Hap Seng sued City Hall which, in turn, sent an eviction notice to the temple”.

While we can follow the logic of DBKL sending an eviction notice to recover its reserve land from the temple, where is the logic for Hap Seng suing the KL City Hall? Why is a private developer suing the government and what right has it got to do so?

Does our gomen owe Hap Seng a living or are we missing something here?

belong to second-class citizens

menarahapsengnew

Menara Hap Seng belongs to Malaysia’s downtrodden second-class citizens

Aside from commercial buildings in the KL business district, Hap Seng Land most recently built posh bungalows (photo below).

It is quite obvious that Hap Seng’s residential housing projects belong to a different class from the Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman temple and other houses of worship serving Hindu devotees in Malaysia.

HapSengUrbanaProject

BukitBintangtemple2

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37 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Setem  |  November 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Indians just have to curb their tendencies to build Hindu temples in reserved lands. I never understand the obstinacy of some of them who consistently refuse to abide with the law.

    I was not surprised when an insider told me that the city has money provisions to demolish illegal worship places being built on city’s reserved lands, and Cityzens are encouraged to quickly file a report to the cit council if they found illegals worship places being built.

    Reply
    • 2. Helen Ang  |  November 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm

      There are a few problems inherent to this.

      (1) Community under siege

      Their temples previously in the plantations were demolished when the rubber estates were fragmented and converted into new housing estates. Sime Darby, for example, has become a property developer, evolving from its beginnings in the plantation industry.

      Indian estate workers were displaced and their temples not rebuilt after the rubber boom ended.

      Compare with the Muslim situation. The surau is provided everywhere as a privilege. Even the stylish Utusan headquarters newly completed has one in situ. You see new suraus everywhere in tandem with the development of new housing estates.

      What the above development indicates is that the spiritual needs of a religious community has to be catered to. With Muslims, all of this is done in an organized manner and that is why we don’t hear about the problem of surau or masjid being demolished or accused of squatting on ‘illegal’ land.

      If you can put yourself in the other man’s shoes, then you will see the Indian predicament, particularly Hindus here that are being converted both to Christianity (recall Jacyln Victor’s tweet saying she did not celebrate Deepavali) as well as to Islam.

      (2) Lack of capital to build new temples

      It’s understandable that the Indian temples are not generally big, impressive or heritage buildings. In my readings, I came across a factoid that something like 70 percent* of Indians were labourers in the estates during the height of Malaysia’s dominance as the world top rubber producer.

      (*recalling from memory, I’ll provide the proper citation later when I reread.)

      As estate workers, they would not have had money to build grand temples. However, temples were constructed for them by the estate owners as one of the facilities provided. As a comparison, the new evangelical churches which are build as ‘convention centres’ cost hundreds of millions, and this can be done because the urban middle class who are sucked into the evangelista cult have the capital.

      (3) The municipal council roadblocks

      The Herald editorial quoted below tells of how church and temple construction is blocked by the authorities

      “In the allocation of land for places of worship, Muslims are allocated a ratio of 1:800 in the population with a spatial requirement of 0.4 hectare for a mosque, and 1:250 and 0.1 hectare for a surau.

      With non-Muslims the ratio is 1:4000 with a spatial requirement “suitable for a church or temple”. In other words the bureaucrats will decide what you get – not what you need.

      Even if you have the land to build your place of worship you are made to jump through hoops to get what you want and only if you are lucky.”

      http://www.heraldmalaysia.com/news/Burial-land-lacking-13845-3-1.html

      What The Herald details above are two different set of standards applied to Muslims and to non-Muslims.

      Meaning the local authorities will not give you permission (permit) to build unless you can prove that there are for example 4,000 Hindus in your area who want to use the temple. Whereas for the Muslims, you’re only required to show that you have a qariah of 800 to build a mosque, and 250 ummah to build a surau.

      Furthermore, the authorities will allow you to build a new mosque in grand size. e.g. the Crystal Mosque in Kuala T’ganu, the floating mosques in KT and in Tg Tokong Penang, etc whereas new impressive designs for houses of worship of the other religions do not get council approval.

      e.g. the long protracted saga of the Church of the Divine Mercy in Shah Alam, objections to the building of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kota Kinabalu, and to the building of the Hindu temple in Shah Alam, in relation to the ugly “Cow Head” protest by the Muslim extremists.

      Reply
      • 3. Setem  |  November 10, 2013 at 10:09 pm

        So, you support the Indians to build illegal temples at any places they wish because they find it “difficult” to get approval for putting up the legal ones?

        Reply
        • 4. Helen Ang  |  November 10, 2013 at 10:18 pm

          Setem,

          You fail to understand the gist of my posting …(?)

          I asked what right has the developer Hap Seng got to sue the GOVERNMENT? Do you have any comment on this issue?

          Even Nambikei Najib appears to be puzzled when the 8-foot walkway could have been built on Hap Seng’s own land instead of on the DBKL’s reserved land, see http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/06/27/reprieve-for-temple/

          Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah asked: “Who gets the benefit from the [DBKL eviction] notice? It is the developer. What is the relationship between the developer and DBKL? Is there an element of bribery?”

          http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2012/10/13/temple-lodges-police-report-against-dbkl/

          Reply
          • 5. Helen Ang  |  November 10, 2013 at 10:51 pm

            It looks like in my annoyance I haven’t properly answered your question.

            No, I don’t support that they simply build anywhere. What the DBKL tore down is an illegal extension.

            However, the main structure that might be construed as a temple (or a shrine) could possibly have been constructed before there was a DBKL or a Federation of Malaya if the claims are true. So how could the temple be said to be illegally sitting on DBKL land if in 1911 there was no such entity as DBKL?

            If there was more understanding from the government so that the building of temples can be properly approved, then the entire business of temple maintenance/refurbishment, temple expansion/relocation or new construction can be better regulated.

            However there is no such duty of care show by the government of the day to the adherents of the minority religious communities. What we see is a lot of ill will.

            Reply
            • 6. Setem  |  November 11, 2013 at 11:41 am

              Many pre-war buldings in KL which sat on ‘Tanah Melayu’ lands which is now called Kuala Lumpur and being taken cared of by DBKL, had been demolished.

              There’s no proof that the temple was built in 1911. There is clear evidence that it sits on ‘Tanah Melayu’ land under DBKL and hence is illegal status.

              Hope you get the gist of what I was trying to say.

              Reply
              • 7. Helen Ang  |  November 11, 2013 at 11:56 am

                re: “There is clear evidence that it sits on ‘Tanah Melayu’ land under DBKL and hence is illegal status.”

                By your argument, EVERYTHING that lies between 2°30’N and 112°30’E sits on Tanah Melayu and if there is any dispute, you will revert to the First Cause: “we Melayu gave you citizenship under the Social Contract (sic)”>. How to argue legality and illegality with you?

                Reply
                • 8. islam1st  |  November 12, 2013 at 7:32 am

                  Tanah Melayu does not stop being Tanah Melayu when we were being colonized!

                  thus Merdeka!

                  Reply
          • 9. LOL  |  November 10, 2013 at 11:01 pm

            The GOMEN should come up with the definition and clear description of a shrine and a temple. In my personal opinion a temple normally has a caretaker or monk who lives there where a shrine doesn’t. In the case of the Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman temple, it was a shrine before as I have seen it many times. As I far as I can remember via living and working in this area since the 1990’s, I had not seen or remembered any major procession or praying session being conducted in masses there before.

            Otherwise, pardon me my language, every single object that deems sacred to the Hindu will become a temple. I studied Hinduism in college before thus I understand how and why the ‘sacred” thing come about i.e. 330 million gods and goddesses in Hinduism.

            Reply
            • 10. Helen Ang  |  November 10, 2013 at 11:13 pm

              Agree that there should be a guiding framework. Like you say, the major festivals or processions that the temple hosts, number of devotees (qariah), how frequently it is in use (weekly prayers?), historical significance, quality of architecture (e.g. maybe the artisans who carved the statues and temple decorations are renowned craftsmen), to which god is the temple dedicated, etc

              Having said the above, it does look like we need officers in the Gomen who are Tamil-speaking Indian Hindus to be able to uraikan kekusutan in this kind of matters. The demolition was supposedly to have been postponed until a meeting was held with the FT Deputy Minister (MIC man) but the DBKL still went ahead disregarding the scheduled appointment.

              According to Malaysiakini’s report,

              “[Temple secretary] Nalini said the demolished portions comprise of adjacent structures that make up the temple’s washroom, kitchen, meeting room, and living quarters for the temple’s priest and cleaner.”

              http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/246211

              What she says seems to imply that there is a resident priest.

              Reply
              • 11. LOL  |  November 10, 2013 at 11:47 pm

                Re. “[Temple secretary] Nalini said the demolished portions comprise of adjacent structures that make up the temple’s washroom, kitchen, meeting room, and living quarters for the temple’s priest and cleaner.”

                It must be a new structure. When they covered the parking area last time, people couldn’t notice that there is even a SHRINE there. I used to take a short cut from Jalan Tengah to get to MUI Plaza last time (Now Hup Seng Building) through the car park.

                This is the thing that I don’t like about the Indians where they like to exaggerate and fabricate things most of the time.

                I don’t think the shrine is more than 50 or 60 years old.

                Reply
                • 12. LOL  |  November 11, 2013 at 12:09 am

                  BTW, do you remember the Hindu Shrine under the big tree in front of Public Bank Building at the junction between Jalan Ampang and Jalan Yap Kwan Seng last time. The Shrine was already there before the Public Bank Building was built. It is nowhere to be seen now.

                  Plus I am quite surprise that the Hup Seng owner, is not sensitive or so particular about this particular shrine, for normally the Chinese business people is quite wary about the Feng Shui matter, just like the case of the Hindu Temple in Midvalley Mall and part of the reason why it still remains there.

                  Fyi, the former owner of MUI Plaza now Hup Seng Building is the Tan Sri that you can see in the evangelista video in Australia last time. The new owner must be from the same clan and cult I think.

                  Reply
                  • 13. islam1st  |  November 12, 2013 at 7:37 am

                    It was a kedai makan before. I have seen no priest when I was there in 2008.

                    Reply
    • 14. HY  |  November 10, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      kalu ikut proper n legal way, i rasa i diri dah jadi buddha temple tu pun belum siap, unless itu temple committee terdiri dari advisor menjulang macam hapseng punya boss.

      kat mid valley pun ada satu temple surrounded by all the tall building n big mall, not sure how the nego was done, seem like everyone is happy.

      Reply
      • 15. Setem  |  November 10, 2013 at 10:11 pm

        you should live in some bukits far away from the civilisation if you do not want to live by the laws. your ancestors used to live in those bukits, so you shouldn’t have problems moving to the same bukits.

        Reply
        • 16. islam1st  |  November 12, 2013 at 7:43 am

          Setem please don’t ask them to do that, look at what had happened to our beloved bukits and guas which had been turned into tokong worship centers.

          Batu Caves and Ipoh comes to mind, but there are many others out there.

          ‘kalu ikut proper n legal way, i rasa i diri dah jadi buddha temple tu pun belum siap, unless itu temple committee terdiri dari advisor menjulang macam hapseng punya boss.’

          No HY, you don’t have to do that at all. Just use your imagination, a little bit economic sense and a lot of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ gung ho, will do!

          Reply
      • 17. HY  |  November 10, 2013 at 11:07 pm

        my dear civilised man, u start to sound like a judeo-christians, we r talking about justice though.

        Reply
        • 18. Setem  |  November 11, 2013 at 11:46 am

          what justice are you talking about?

          the case is so clear. go read up the rest of the comments.

          Reply
        • 19. HY  |  November 12, 2013 at 12:57 am

          equal justice under law?

          yes i read n reread, conclusion is u guys rebuttal is repeatedly, predictably, and completely ending in the same elegance manner, pretty impressive.

          Reply
          • 20. islam1st  |  November 12, 2013 at 7:46 am

            We just don’t want to complicate things for you. We understood, it is a great challenge for you and your kakis to even digest the simplest logic repeatedly lay out. Kan?

            Reply
    • 21. Colin  |  November 12, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      Setem, the Malaysian Government should have told the Hindus not to build that temple, explaining to them that the temple was standing on DBKL land……. 112 years ago…. Right

      Reply
  • 22. LOL  |  November 10, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    It wasn’t looking like that in the mid 90’s fyi i.e the yellow color stone structure. The so called temple was located inside a Mamak (Indian) Stall. If my memory serves me right, the so called temple was just a very small room with idol just like what you normally see by the road side. Even before the building was completed in mid 2000’s, it was never that obvious. I remember that because I used to walk past by the car park where the new building is currently located on my way to visit my doctor in Menara Hup Seng. I know this area very well, since the day the St Mary Girls School was still operating there in the 90’s.

    Is there any record to confirm that the temple is actually more than 100 years?

    Reply
    • 23. Helen Ang  |  November 10, 2013 at 5:46 pm

      re: “If my memory serves me right, the so called temple was just a very small room with idol just like what you normally see by the road side. Even before the building was completed in mid 2000’s, it was never that obvious.”

      I believe you’re right.

      re: “Is there any record to confirm that the temple is actually more than 100 years?”

      Fair point, LOL. The news reports, including The J-Star‘s, unaminously put the temple age as over 100 years. Logically thinking, it’s possible because Bukit Bintang is the heart of KL and it makes sense that it could have been built very early on.

      However does the original structure qualify as a temple (Ku Nan insists it is only a shrine) and as you’ve correctly pointed out, what encroached into the DBKL land was an extension built later and more recently.

      Reply
  • 24. maae  |  November 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    ….and there are others too, on other gov. land. Scattering all over places. Just simply build illegally, do ext and renovations and claim the temples have the privileges of religion rights. Absurd !

    I do hope, gov. do total clean up. Some temples are being used for personnel purposes. Let them build on paid legal land that comply with Majlis Daerah or Perbandaran rules and regulation. No more cat and mouse.

    But Hap Seng… helen got to tell us more…

    Reply
  • 25. kawekoambo  |  November 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Hap seng buat building berdasarkan approved plan DBKL. Tanah depan Hap Seng digazet sbg jalan/laluan. Access kpd hap seng adalah melalui jalan ini. Bila mana CCC/CF tidak dikeluarkan, bila jalan tidak ada, maka hap seng berhak saman dbkl yg meluluskan pelan tersebut.

    Reply
    • 26. Helen Ang  |  November 10, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      Terima kasih atas penjelasan.

      re: “Tanah depan Hap Seng digazet sbg jalan/laluan.”

      Bila ia diwartakan?

      Dan kenapa tanah untuk jalan (walkway) itu tidak disediakan Hap Seng dan perlu pula ia disediakan oleh DBKL?

      Reply
      • 27. achik  |  November 10, 2013 at 8:05 pm

        Berita bulan Jun yang lalu. Perdana Menteri pun tertanya2 soalan yang sama.
        http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/06/27/reprieve-for-temple/
        Ini mesti pegawai DBKL yang punya angkara.

        Reply
        • 28. Helen Ang  |  November 10, 2013 at 8:22 pm

          Thanks for the link.

          Reply
      • 29. LOL  |  November 10, 2013 at 11:50 pm

        Re. Dan kenapa tanah untuk jalan (walkway) itu tidak disediakan Hap Seng

        Tanah diorang lebih sesuai dan untung dijadikan sidewalk cafe. You know they are just across the beach club the most happening place in B Bintang.

        Reply
      • 30. kawekoambo  |  November 11, 2013 at 12:46 am

        “The temple, which was built in 1911, sits on reserve land meant for roads or walkways and has to make way for a pedestrian walkway.” (http://tinyurl.com/lxvvfw2)

        Tanah yang dirizabkan untuk jalan.
        Bangunan Hap Seng terletak disebelah tanah yang dirizabkan untuk jalan.

        atas peta, tanah tersebut adalah jalan.

        Reply
        • 31. Helen Ang  |  November 11, 2013 at 12:55 am

          Tapi bila – tarikh atau tahun – tanah DBKL tersebut telah dirizabkan khusus untuk dibuat jalan?

          Bukankan jalan tersebut hanya perlu dibina kerana sudah siap didirikan kompleks 30-tingkat oleh pemaju Hap Seng itu? Kalau tiada bangunan tinggi yang terdesak mahukan (sijil) CF, maka tiada keperluan untuk dibuat ‘walkway’ di situ, bukan?

          Reply
          • 32. kawekoambo  |  November 11, 2013 at 1:32 am

            boleh dikatakan tanah rizab jalan tersebut adalah dormant, sebelum bangunan didirikan, tiada tuntutan khusus untuk jalan tersebut

            sama lah macam rizab landasan keretapi, selagi trek landasan tidak dibesarkan, tanah rizab adalah dormant.

            Apabila tujuan sebenar tanah tersebut mahu digunakan, tanah tersebut perlu diaktifkan.

            Hap Seng hanyalah menggunakan tanah/jalan kerajaan sebagaimana pihak pihak lain menggunakan tanah/jalan kerajaan yang lain.

            Hap Seng tidak perlu menyediakan jalan, kerana jalan kerajaan yang tak aktif, sudah ada.

            Sebagai perbandingan, apabila saya membeli tanah untuk tujuan sub-divide lot lot rumah, saya hanya perlu, mencari jalan diatas peta, walaupun pada hakikatnya, jalan tersebut di penuhi hutan.

            apabila tiba masa, hutan tersebut akan menjadi jalan.

            sama lah keadaan diatas, apabila shrine menjadi jalan

            Reply
            • 33. Helen Ang  |  November 11, 2013 at 1:47 am

              Terima kasih atas penjelasan.

              re: “Hap Seng hanyalah menggunakan tanah/jalan kerajaan sebagaimana pihak pihak lain menggunakan tanah/jalan kerajaan yang lain.”

              Tidak semestinya tanah rizab milik DBKL wajib diserahkan bagi tujuan khusus dibina satu ‘walkway’ untuk membolehkan bangunan Hap Seng itu memperolehi CF, bukan?

              Kalau ia milik DBKL, maka boleh DBKL gunakan tanah itu untuk apa-apa tujuan (lain) yang difikirkan kerajaan sebagai bersesuaian atau mendatangkan manfaat kepada orangramai.

              Jadi saya masih pelik kenapa Hap Seng mahu menyaman kerajaan lalu menuntut supaya tanah itu diserahkan bagi pembinaan ‘walkway’ agar bangunan milik pemaju itu akan boleh beroperasi?

              Reply
  • 34. mharris832Majidi  |  November 11, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Do you really think they were Indian people living at Bukit Bintang area during 1900s? We haven’t form Malaysia yet that time and i believe most of Indians work in rubber estate(don’t get me wrong, I’m not being racist. Just trying to highlight the situation at that time) . Maybe we should ask the Star where did they get that 100-year-old-temple information. Any written document or photograph?

    Reply
  • 36. RINA  |  November 11, 2013 at 1:53 am

    RM500m is like a drop of water for Hap Seng Grp.

    Their early Pdg Meiha and Teluk Merbau plantations in Semenanjung, majority of their ex-workers were Indian Hindus. Sebagai kenangan I sincerely hope Hap Seng will initiate some kind of goodwill gesture and build one beautiful Temple for them – no necessity for all these cheap publicity of suing DBKL nonsense.

    Hai land bank kan berlambak. Allocate 5 acreas pon will not hurt Hap Seng. I am sure the late TSri LGPoh would dearly appreciate this gesture.

    Reply
  • 37. LOL  |  November 11, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Ku Nan: Saya hanya mahu cantikkan kuil

    “Kami akan mencantikkan kuil dengan segera, pastikan ia akan dilakukan dengan cepat,” katanya, sambil berkata pemaju Hap Seng akan datang dengan sebut harga bagi kos pengubahsuaian kuil.”

    http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/246309

    Bowing to the pressure apparently…. sigh.

    Reply

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