Cabinet should issue a total
halt to all temple demolitions in the country and set up a Royal Commission
of Inquiry into Tuesday’s Kampung Rimba Jaya Sri Maha Mariaman Temple
demolition and to draw up national guidelines for all future demolitions to
ensure they do not trample on religious sensitivities
by Lim Kit Siang
The Cabinet on Wednesday should
issue a total halt to all temple demolitions in the country and set up a
Royal Commission of Inquiry into Tuesday’s Kampung Rimba Jaya Sri Maha
Mariaman Temple demolition in Shah Alam and to draw up national guidelines
for all future demolitions to ensure they do not trample on religious and
All temple demolitions should stop until the Royal Commission of Inquiry
has come out with its report and recommendations for national guidelines
for all future demolitions of places of worship which take fully into
account the Merdeka social contract 50 years ago which assured all
religions a rightful place in the country, the first Rukunegara principle
of “Belief in God” as well as the religious and cultural sensitivities of
a multi-religious and multi-racial Malaysia.
What happened at Kampung Rimba Jaya on Tuesday, where brute and naked
force was displayed by the Shah Alam City Hall (MBSA) enforcement
authorities in utter disregard of proper procedures, religious and
cultural sensitivities in the demolition of the 40-year-old Sri Maha
Mariaman Temple, resulting in many injured, 20 people including four
lawyers arrested, has caused great damage to Malaysian nation-building and
is most shameful especially in a year when the country is celebrating 50
years of independent nationhood.
The highhanded and reckless manner in which the Sri Maha Mariaman Temple
was demolished had raised the question, not only in Malaysia but
internationally, whether Malaysia really respects the fundamental and
constitutional rights of Malaysians to “freedom of religion” as enshrined
in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution.
It is no exaggeration to say that to a significant section of the
Malaysian population, the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations have been
rendered meaningless by such arbitrary actions by those in authority which
are completely contemptuous of the legitimate rights and sensitivities of
different communities and religions in the country.
This is why SUHAKAM, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism,
Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), Malaysia Hindu
Sangam and various organizations including political parties had deplored
and condemned the MBSA demolition actions.
This was also why DAP MP for Ipoh Barat and National Vice Chairman M.
Kulasegaran had sought to have an emergency debate in Parliament on the
temple demolition on Thursday but his motion was rejected by the Deputy
Speaker, Datuk Lim Si Cheng on completely unacceptable grounds.
The Cabinet can go a long way to make amends for the great harm done to
Malaysian nation-building and the country’s reputation of respect for all
religions by Tuesday’s temple demolition by issuing a directive on
Wednesday for an immediate halt to all demolitions of temples and places
of worship, as well as establishing a Royal Commission of Inquiry tasked
with two terms of reference:
• To inquire into Tuesday’s
high-handed demolition of the Sri Maha Mariaman temple in Kampung Rimba
Jaya near Shah Alam and to identify the state and local authority
officials responsible for abuses and excesses of power; and
• To draw up national guidelines for all future demolitions of places of
worship which do not trample on religious and cultural sensitivities by
taking fully into account the fundamental right of “freedom of religion”
assured to all Malaysians.
If the Cabinet on Wednesday can
issue such a directive and set up such a Royal Commission of Inquiry, it
will be the best Deepavali gift of the Malaysian government.
Let all Cabinet Ministers, whether MIC, MCA, Gerakan, UMNO or from the
Sabah and Sarawak Barisan Nasional parties, prove that they can act in
unison in the larger Malaysian interest on the occasion of the nation’s
50th Merdeka anniversary to lay a firm basis for a plural nation by ending
all high-handed demolitions of temples and places of worship which trample
on religious and cultural sensitivities, and in so doing, making a
magnificent Deepavali present not only to Malaysian Hindus but to all
Malaysians as well.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman