Heritage Department holds private hearing for Vivekananda Ashram

Vivekananda Ashrama trustees, Tan Sri K. Ampikaipakan (right) and M. Thiruselvam leaving the National Heritage Department after the hearing.

THE highly anticipated objection hearing to designate the century-old Vivekananda Ashram as a national heritage site finally took place at the National Heritage Department’s office in Jalan Istana, Kuala Lumpur.  

The private hearing this afternoon, which invited the trustees of the Vivekananda Ashram, Kuala Lumpur, 
was chaired by Heritage Commissioner Dr Zainah Ibrahim. Also present were National Heritage Department deputy director Mod Zaky Din and ecology director Syed Khalid Syed Ali. 

Attending the hearing were ashram chairman Tan Sri Dr K. Ampikaipakan, treasurer M. Thiruselvam and their legal team. When approached for comments after the hearing, which lasted about an hour, Ampikaipakan said: “No comment." 

The Heritage Department officers continued with their meeting for at least another hour. Later, when asked about the outcome of the hearing, Syed Khalid merely said “let the department do its work.”   

The Vivekananda Ashram board of trustees turned down the Government’s proposal to turn the 110-year-old building into a national heritage site on March 19. This was the second time the trustees have said no. 

Without approval from the board, the Government cannot automatically gazette the old building a heritage site.

Following the disagreement, a National Heritage Commission spokesman said there was a need to hold a hearing to decide the future of the premises.

The Government, through the commission, had notified Vivekananda Ashram on Jan 14 to designate the place as a heritage site under Section 27 (2) of the National Heritage Act 2005. 

Vivekananda Ashram in Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Brickfields, was earmarked for major redevelopment consisting of a 23-storey residential tower with 264 units and an eight-storey carpark built within its grounds.

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