Khalid Ibrahim promised to settle issue…

and he is doing it quickly with his team – Rodziah Ismail, Khalid Samad, PKNS Chairman and the Datuk Bandar of Shah Alam…

Published: Monday September 7, 2009 MYT 4:06:00 PM
Updated: Monday September 7, 2009 MYT 4:16:47 PM

New site for Hindu temple in Shah Alam

SHAH ALAM: The Selangor Government has identified a new, more suitable site for the relocation of the 150-year-old Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu temple in Section 19 here.

A press statement from the state government said that the new site is still in Section 23 but was more strategic and located 100m from the original relocation site and 400m from the residential area.

The state government would discuss the matter with the temple committee and look for an amicable solution acceptable to all parties, the statement said.

It said that the identification of the new site was the result of the efforts of Batu Tiga assemblyman Rodziah Ismail, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, Shah Alam Mayor Mazalan Md Noor and PKNS chairman Othman Omar who checked out suitable sites in Section 18, 19, 20 and 23.

The Star Online

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‘Cow-head’ protesters to face charges
// Sep 7, 09 6:30pm

Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail today said that he would be charging those who took part in the ‘cow-head’ protest 10 days ago.

“I have decided to charge those who carried (the cow head) and spoke while stepping on the cow head under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act, alternatively under Section 298 of the Penal Code,” said Abdul Gani in a statement today.

He added that all the demonstrators will also face another charge under Section 27(5) of the Police Act for illegal assembly. [see below for details of the sections]

He said that the decision was based on the investigation paper submitted by the police to him this afternoon.

“I am satisfied based on the facts and evidence gathered by the police that the demonstrators should be taken to court,” he said.

The investigation paper was the result of a two-week long police investigation into the protest which has put Malaysia on the international stage for the wrong reason after public outcry over the issue.

Abdul Gani however did not state when the charges would be preferred against the demontrators. He also did not reveal the number of people to be charged.

New site identified

On Aug 28, the demonstrators, residents of Shah Alam’s Section 23, marched to the state secretariat to protest the proposed relocation of the Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu temple from nearby Section 19.

They were reportedly unhappy that the 150-year-old temple is to be relocated in the Malay-Muslim majority neighbourhood.

The protest turned sour when several unidentified men came forward with a dismembered cow’s head and placed it in front of the building gates.

Several individuals then proceeded to spit and step upon the animal’s head while uttering threats apparently directed at Selangor executive councillor for health, plantation workers, poverty and caring government Dr Xavier Jayakumar

An attempt by the the state government to hold a dialogue with the residents last Saturday turned rowdly (photo, above) when the residents vehemently objected to the temple being relocated to their neighbourhood.

Following this the state government shelved the plan to relocate the temple but today announced that another site has been found in Section 23 for the relocation.

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When herd mentality ruled the day
Comment by Maria J.Dass


IF anything coherent came out of Saturday’s dialogue – if you can call it that – on the relocation of a Hindu temple from Section 19 to an industrial zone in Section 23 Shah Alam, it is this: that minority rights and peaceful discourse has lost out to mob rule.

Rowdy protestors disrupt the breifing by the panellist at the dialogue with Section 23
residents on the proposed relocation of a temple to the area. The proposal has since been
shelved due to the ‘strong’ protest.

The dialogue was meant for residents of Section 23 but in the end, it was hijacked by a mob determined to disrupt the proceedings.

The 50-odd protesters — made up of residents and non-residents — threatened to throw shoes and a chair at the state representatives which included Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, Shah Alam MP Khalid Abdul Samad and Batu Tiga assemblyman Rodziah Ismail.

Amid the boos, insults and threats, the Selangor state reps sat through the whole two-hour session held at the banquet hall of the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) and tried to deal with the hotheads.

This was especially evident when a resident expressed her fears that crime rate would rise if the temple was built in Section 23. In reply, Khalid Abdul Samad countered that this was precisely why a temple was needed so that Indian youth and children could have a place to congregate and where strong religious and moral values could be inculcated.

But his effort seemed futile as the rowdies were intent on disrupting the proceedings even before they stepped into the hall. It is also noted that police were conspicuously absent from the meeting, which at times threatened to turn ugly.

Rowdy protestors disrupt the breifing by the panellist at the dialogue with Section 23
residents on the proposed relocation of a temple to the area. The proposal has since been
shelved due to the ‘strong’ protest.

Social planning gone wrong

These loud protests over the temple relocation, however, fail to take into account the larger issue here — that it is a direct consequence of social engineering with poor planning on the part of the Selangor State Development Corporation or PKNS and the Shah Alam local authorities.

Just 50 years ago, large tracts of what is now Shah Alam were plantations. In the late 60s, PKNS started buying land from the Sungai Renggam estate, with a plan to build a township where 60-80% of the residents would be Malays.

As the area developed, many of the temples, some of which were more than a century old, ended up being surrounded by housing estates.

This is what happened to the 150-year-old Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Section 19. Originally built in a sparsely populated plantation, it slowly found itself surrounded by houses. But the Section 19 house buyers claim the temple was not in the brochure when the housing project was launched, and as such want the temple to be relocated.

Similarly, Section 23 residents are using the same argument — that they would not have bought their property if they knew a temple would be located nearby.

Another key point in the issue is the relocation of a temple to a Muslim-majority area. But where one can find a non-Muslim majority area in Shah Alam?

Nowhere to go?

With nowhere else to go, the only alternative open to the state government is to relocate the temples to industrial areas within the city. But this too is no easy task as it requires that all parties — the temple committee, the MBSA, PKNS and the state government — come to an agreement.

The temple committees are understandably unhappy as sites offered are isolated and not accessible by any form of transportation. Such was the case with the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple committee, which objected to a site in a remote area in Section 22.

Now it is back to the drawing board for those involved to fix a problem which resulted from a lack of foresight by past administrators.

Saturday’s dialogue ended with the mentri besar shelving the proposal to relocate the temple to Section 23. He has also said he will meet with the Hindu community to find a solution.

At the end of the meeting, some residents from both sides of the divide shook hands with each other as they said goodbye, but the underlying tension was evident.

If anything, the encounter has forced some Hindu residents of Section 23 to take a hard look at their neighbours.

One woman said: “We have been close to our neighbours all this while and have looked out for each other, but this incident has shown how our neighbours view us and where we stand.”

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