KLANG: The Selangor Government has ordered a stop to the massive reconstruction plan for the Goddess of Mercy temple here, citing it as a heritage site that must be preserved.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo has, instead, asked the temple committee to focus on restoring it with the help of skilled craftsmen.
He has given the committee six months to come out with a restoration plan and submit it to the state government.
The directive was relayed by state executive councillor Datuk Chng Toh Eng at a meeting here on Tuesday which was attended by 20 temple committee members.
Also present at the meeting were Klang Municipal Council president Datuk Mohd Sharif Yusof, municipal council member Datuk Teh Chang Yin and the executive director of the heritage monitoring body, Badan Warisan Malaysia (BWM), Elizabeth Cardosa.
At the end of the meeting the committee agreed to work with BWM on restoring the original temple but made a request to demolish an adjacent two-storey building for the construction of a new temple.
Chng and Shariff said the suggestion was feasible and told the committee to prepare a short report.
The temple committee had stated that the temple was severely rundown and might collapse on worshippers, particularly when they come in large numbers during festive seasons.
The main supporting beams are said to be infested with termites and the rooftop had reportedly collapsed during a thunderstorm in December 1999.
The state government is aware of the committees concern about the safety of worshippers.
The state government wants the temple to be preserved as it had been informed by BWM that the temple could be restored without compromising on safety, Chng said.
He said the Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah had taken a keen interest in the temple and would like to see the temple preserved.
Temple committee vice-chairman Khoo Tian Soon said they were not out to destroy the heritage, adding that the temple was no longer in its complete original structure as the left wing was demolished several years ago to make way for a highway.
He said the committee had sought the opinions of many craftsmen and building masters who informed them that restoring the temple would not be as safe as reconstructing a new temple.
A BWM site report concurred that the timber roof framework appeared to have been weakened by borers and termites.
It also stated that the temple doors and window frames were deteriorating and subjected to insect attack.
Cardosa said the temple was restorable without resorting to demolishing and rebuilding it.
BWM had worked with other committees previously in restoring temples in far worse conditions, such as the Cheng Hoon Teng temple in Malacca and the Khoo Kongsi in Penang, she said.
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