Saving the cave temples


By IVAN LOHILI AQILAH

Temporary reprieve: An eviction notice served on the 155-year-old Nam Thean Tong Cave Temple has been revoked.

IPOH: An ad hoc committee will be set up to tackle land-related issues faced by cave temples in the Kinta district, says Perak MCA chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon.

He said he would chair the committee and hold discussions with the Perak Land and Mines Department to hopefully come up with solutions for the cave temples to continue operating at their locations.

“I will also assist the temple committees to prepare the necessary documentation to resolve the issues in a long-term and stable way.

“As for now, the department has agreed to revoke the eviction notices served on the 19 cave temples,” he told a press conference after leading cave temple representatives to meet with state Land and Mines Department director Datuk Mohamad Fariz Mohamad Hanip here yesterday.

The cave temples, including the 155-year-old Nam Thean Tong Cave Temple, had been served with notices last Friday to vacate their premises within 30 days.

In an interview with The Star on Saturday, Nam Thean Tong Cave Temple trustee chairman Chan Kwai Hoong acknowledged that the temple had operated without a lease but said it had been applying for one for decades without success.

On Sunday night, Dr Mah held a meeting with representatives from the cave temples to try and resolve the problem.

Moving forward, he said there would be several things to be discussed between the department and the cave temples.

These, he said, included suggestions to gazette land for temple use or granting Temporary Occupancy Licences to the cave temples to continue using the land they are situated on.

“We also recommended the department send experts to survey and evaluate the cave temples and assist them in making the premises safe for the public, while protecting the environment and historical monuments.

“We will also continue to raise awareness and to have the cave temple committees ensure future activities at their premises will not damage the environment and is safe for visitors,” he added.

At a separate press conference, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad said he would meet with the department and Kinta district officer to discuss the issue further.

“I will also bring the matter up during the state executive council meeting to see what we can do,” he said.

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