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Cabinet should order immediate halt to demolition of Hindu temples and all places worship to allow formulation of new guidelines which uphold constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion
(Parliament, Thursday) : DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam, Chong Eng yesterday called on the Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting to take immediate action at the Cabinet level to halt the demolition of Hindu temples to respect Article 11 on freedom of religion during the committee debate on the Housing and Local Government Ministry 2007 Budget estimates.
It is most regrettable that in his reply, Ka Ting ignored the subject altogether despite repeated protests by Chong Eng. The latest case in the spate of demolition of Hindu temples was the Kaliaman Alayam Hindu Temple in Ipoh by the Ipoh City Council on Monday.
DAP MPs had invited MPs from all the other political parties to a parliamentary roundtable discussion on the demolition of places of worship by the local authorities in utter disregard of the fundamental right to freedom of religion entrenched in Article 11 of the Malaysian Constitution, but no Barisan Nasional MP turned up for the roundtable on Monday.
The parliamentary roundtable led by DAP MP for Ipoh Barat (DAP National Vice Chairman) M Kula Segaran and DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam (DAP Deputy Secretary-General) Chong Eng adopted a resolution expressing “concern, uneasiness and animosity among the various communities” at the recent spate of demolition of places of worship by the local authorities as they are contrary to Article 11 of the Federal Constitution and illustrate the lack of appreciation of the various international covenants on freedom of religion.
The Parliamentary Roundtable resolution said:
Many of the worship areas are ungazetted and or occupying state land. The rapid development in the country has resulted in the encroachment of temple lands which are being taken over for commercial development.
On 18th July 2006 the issue of demolishment was raised in Parliament. The Housing and Local Government Ministry asserted that due discussion would be held between the local authority and the temple committee before the demolishment takes effect. Further the demolishment would only take place after the notice has expired. Many temples are still being demolished in violent disregard of the directives.
The Ministry of Housing and Local Government has a set of rules known as “ Garis Panduan Perancangan Tempat Ibadat Bukan Islam” We note many local authorities are ignorant of this directive and some are even oblivious to this rule. In the process the authorities have clearly exhibited a lack of understanding, appreciation and feelings for the other religious communities
Many of the Temples which were demolished are said to be over 100 years old. This is our national treasure which we should preserve for the sake of the multi racial country of ours.
It is pertinent that the issue be addressed urgently by our country’s top leadership, including taking appropriate legislative and administrative measures to reaffirm the constitutional right of Malaysians to freedom of religion.
The Cabinet should step in to order an immediate halt to the demolition of Hindu temples and all places of worship so as to formulate new guidelines which fully uphold the constitutional guarantee on freedom of religion in the Federal Constitution.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman