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Friday, November 9, 2007

Delegates slam Indian anger over temple demolition

STS From Malaysia Today (8/11/2007): Many Umno delegates yesterday took issue with the reaction of the Indian community to the recent demolition of a Hindu temple in Selangor, calling on the government to take steps to stop the indiscriminate building of temples and shrines.

Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim of the Umno Women's Wing called for the enactment of a new law to govern the affairs of non-Muslims.

'There should be specific laws governing the setting up of places of worship. We now see places of worship all over the place, from under the tree to on the roadside,' said Datuk Kamilia.

She also warned other races 'not to play with fire' and undermine racial unity.

Another delegate, Mr Ahmad Kuris Mohd Noor of Selangor, said many small mosques on private land had also been demolished.

'Other races must also be willing to give way for the sake of national unity,' he said.

Last week, officers from the Shah Alam City Council demolished a Hindu temple sited on private land in Selangor, sparking anger among Hindus nationwide, including the head of the Malaysian Indian Congress, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

On Monday, he had called off his Deepavali open house celebration and asked his party chieftains to do the same as a sign of protest. He withdrew the decision a few hours later.

But the Works Minister is not holding an open house himself as a sign of respect for the death of his brother earlier this year.

After attending the opening of the Umno assembly yesterday, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu told reporters that he would be attending a national-level Deepavali open house hosted by the government.

'The Muslims have always accepted other religions in this country. But there are certain actions done by certain people. That is the problem.

'This has nothing to do with religion. This is something to do with the administration,' he said.

Meanwhile, the Selangor state government has clarified the situation relating to the temple demolition. In a statement yesterday, it said that the temple, a small mosque and several hundred squatter houses were demolished because they were sited on land belonging to a private company.

There were 1,121 squatters living on the land that the company wanted to develop. The state government had promised to build low-cost houses for the families and to provide land for a new temple and new mosque for free. Notice was given in 2005 to vacate the land. Most of the squatters did so, but some held out, resulting in the forced demolition last week.

Illegal temples are a major problem in Malaysia. The country has about 17,000 Hindu temples and shrines, most of which were built illegally.

Ms Norhamizah Mat Tahir of Umno Puteri (the young women's wing) also touched on the issues of race and religion, reprimanding non-Malays who carped on racial issues.


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