THE Government is planning to set up Hindu Endowment Boards in all states to ensure credibility and transparency in temple management.
Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said the board would ensure conformity and uniformity in the running of temples nationwide, as well as make public the financial accounts of temples.
“We want to model it on Penang’s Hindu Endowment Board, but expand on that and implement an improved version.
“We hope to enact a law on this as well,” he said, adding that such an endowment board in every state was part of Pakatan Harapan manifesto.
When asked for the details of the board, Kulasegaran said it was too soon to decide but the people’s opinion and input would be taken into account.
He said this in response to Hindu organisations calling for a full audit of the Batu Caves temple management committee when it was discovered that the committee was not registered with the Registrar of Societies (RoS).
“The Reform Batu Caves movement agenda will be one of the first issues to be dealt with once the Hindu Endownment Board is set up.”
He also said that he would be a guest speaker at the Reform Batu Caves Public Conference organised by Persatuan Hindu Agamam Ani Malaysia tomorrow at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre at 2pm.
“We will get the feedback from the people and will see what they want done about the current Batu Caves committee.
“Then we will take up the case to the relevant government departments based on the people’s wishes,” he added.
In Penang, the endowment board hosts and organises the yearly Thaipusam and Ponggal festivals.
They oversee the governance of temples, landed property, buildings, houses, burial grounds and money donated for the benefit of the Hindu community in Penang.
In StarMetro’s exclusive report yesterday, Batu Caves’ Sri Mahamariamman Temple Devasthanam committee was said to be operating based on a 1930 court order from a civil suit and was not registered with the RoS.
The committee also oversees the operations of the Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Jalan Bandar and the Kortumalai Pillayar Temple in Pudu, both in Kuala Lumpur.
While acknowledging that they were not registered with RoS, committee chairman Tan Sri R. Nadarajah said the committee submitted detailed accounts every year to the Attorney-General’s Chambers and followed the administration procedure as stipulated.
Thaipusam Task Force coordinator G. Gunaraj, who is also Sentosa assemblyman, said the endowment board stated by Kulasegaran was good as it could act as a guardian of the temple funds on behalf of the Hindu community.
He suggested that the trustees be properly selected and the board should be financially autonomous.
Term of office, he said, should be limited and new temples should not be constructed without the board’s approval.
He added that Indian MPs and assemblymen from Pakatan met yesterday evening to find ways to implement the manifesto for Indians.