THE Save Vivekananda Ashramam Action Committee (SVAB) wants the Vivekananda Ashram trustees to open the gates to the historical landmark in Brickfields.
This follows Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz’s announcement in Parliament on Monday that a notice had been served to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the trustees to gazette the 110-year-old ashram on Jalan Tun Sambanthan as a heritage building.
The building has been under lock and key ever since the story was highlighted in StarMetro a month ago.
SVAB chairman, G. Gunasegaran said Nazri’s move to initiate the process was a boost for all those who had worked day and night to save the iconic building.
“Now, we want the gates to be opened, and the public to be allowed to go in and check the books including their membership records.
“Up until now, our request to check the books have not been granted by the trustees,” Gunasegaran said.
He added that the rules state that new members must get the endorsement of two current members to join as members, but he explained that it was difficult to look for these endorsements if they did not know who were the members.
Gunasegaran said the trustees had to date not revealed the number of members or their whereabouts.
“We want to have a dialogue with them and help them initiate a membership drive,’’ he added.
DBKL has been organising free guided tours of Brickfields every Saturday in Little India since 2011.
The walk starts at the Vivekananda Ashram and tourists often pose for pictures at the bronze statue of Vivekananda. “Since the gates were locked, tourists have to take pictures from outside,” said a DBKL spokesman.
The spokesman said that DBKL would be moving the meeting point to another location next week.
Meanwhile, Sungkai assemblyman A. Sivanesan and Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran held a joint press conference calling for the trustees to open the ashram to the public.
“Tan Sri Dr K. Ampikaipakan is a trustee and not a beneficiary.
“He is holding it in trust for the community,” Sivanesan said.
He added they were planning to hold a ceramah in Brickfields on Nov 29 on the matter, including on the legal standpoint.
Attempts to get Ampikaipakan to comment proved futile.
Responding to a question from Kulasegaran in Parliament on Monday, Nazri revealed that he had served a notice to DBKL and the trustees that the Government intended to gazette the building.
Nazri added the trustees of Vivekananda were served with the notice on Nov 12.