Temple protest: Various parties try to resolve issue


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 02 Sep 2009

lester@thestar.com.my

PUTRAJAYA: The Section 23 Shah Alam residents’ committee will meet the Malaysian Hindu Sangam Council on Friday to resolve the issue of the relocation of a Hindu temple to the Muslim-majority area.

They are also expected to issue a joint statement to “clear the air” about the use of a cow’s head in last Friday’s protest by the committee against the relocation of the temple, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

He said after meeting the committee members, he was “convinced” there was no political motive on the part of the protestors.

The protestors had stamped and spat on a cow’s head during the demonstration. The cow is considered a sacred animal in Hinduism.

“They also had no intentions to raise racial or religious tensions by using the cow’s head as accused by certain groups lately,” he told a press conference after the meeting at the Ministry here on Wednesday.

He said also it was not the first instance that irresponsible parties had resorted to using the heads of animals in protests.

“Before there were incidents in which a pig’s head was used by irresponsible parties, including one which was wrapped in the Umno flag and left at the Umno building (in Menara Tun Hussein Onn here),” he said.

He did not say when the alleged pig’s head incident took place.

Hishammuddin said that the organisers of the protest had “not realised that someone had brought a cow’s head to the demonstration until the last minute.”

He added that his Ministry would monitor the discussion “closely” to ensure that a “win-win situation” could be reached.

In PETALING JAYA, the Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry condemned the “acts of idiocy” by the group which carried and desecrated the cow’s head in protest against the temple relocation.

Its president Datuk K.K. Eswaran said members were very much disturbed and shocked to read that such incident could happen in Malaysia.

“The barbaric act by a selfish group of individuals has not only hurt the feelings of the Hindu community but it is also a setback to the very core of religious tolerance that we have been working for in our multiracial setting,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

He added that the action went against the very fabric of all religious beliefs of accommodating other religions and practices and was a setback to the model Muslim country image that Malaysia was trying to project to the world.

“I strongly urge the Home Minister and the Inspector-General of Police to take the necessary action and bring the people responsible to book.

“Inaction on the part of the police certainly gives rise to speculation that there seems to be selective prosecution and this does not bode well for the 1Malaysia concept that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is propagating,” he said.

In SHAH ALAM, Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim advised the residents of Taman Ixora in Section 23 who protested against the relocation of the Hindu temple from Section 19 to come up with “constructive suggestions and not protest for the sake of doing so.”

“Protesting on an issue is fine but it must be done based on ethics and a conscience, and constructive suggestions must come forth,” he said, EDWARD RAJENDRA reports.

“We will hold a dialogue this Saturday to clarify doubts and explain to the residents the issue surrounding the proposed relocation of the Hindu temple,” he said.

He said that the Section 19 temple issue was “inherited” when the Pakatan Rakyat-led government took over the state.

“Now we want to resolve the issue that has been in ‘ding-dong mode’ for the past 18-years,” he said.

Khalid said dialogues had been held much earlier and there were some who suggested that the temple be moved to Section 22, while others wanted it to be relocated to Klang.

He said he has briefed the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, on the issue and added that the state would resolve the matter before the fasting month of Ramadan ends.

“We will act in a fair manner and even invite Umno, MIC and leaders in the various communities to the dialogue session,” he said after the state government’s weekly meeting.

Batu Tiga assemblyman and state executive councillor Rodziah Ismail said the state has been transparent on the issue.

“First we want to organise a dialogue strictly with the residents of the neighbourhood at the Banquet Hall in the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) this Saturday.

“Once this is done, we will call for community leaders from Sections 1 to 24 to brief them on the issue on another date to clear any misinformation,” she said.

After that, the state would hold a meeting with MBSA officials and members of the media to provide an avenue for questions to be put forth, she added.

Related Stories: Taman Ixora residents want to live in peace Home Minister to probe protest allegations Hishammuddin to meet with Sec 23 residents Our protest was hijacked, say residents

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