Monday Newspaper – Politicians and Temples

Opening the newspaper on a Monday morning and reading some of the unbelievable stories in there can be heavy on your senses – especially if you had a very relaxing day, the day before.

Classic Politician Talking

Reading what our local politicians have said on current issues is not a good way to start the day. First it does not make sense and second it makes us, the rakyat, to look really stupid.

I am referring to this statement “Abdullah urged residents who had any information about development projects at hill slopes to alert DBKL”. This is Pak Lah’s response to the reports that Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had approved a residential development project just 100m from the landslide site at Kampung Pasir, Ulu Klang.

Read it again and you will find something that does not make sense. Why do you need the residents to alert DBKL when DBKL would have better information at their end? Aren’t they the one who approve such development in the first place? So, why alert when it is too late – when the developer had already started work and the damage been done to residents’ live and property? Shouldn’t DBKL be doing some kind of site inspection before approvals was granted to developers?

Ok, maybe I am wrong – perhaps The Star has misquoted the PM. After all, aren’t the word “being misquoted” has become the usual defense by politicians and high ranking civil servants these days? Is Pak Lah talking about illegal development on the hill slopes? Nope, that can’t be it? How do you illegally develop a 7 storey apartment and without the people or the authorities not knowing about it? Unless of course, if the local authorities are too busy shaking their leg in the office and does not have the time to carry out the necessary enforcement tasks. Does it sound like another foot in the mouth incident?

Feeling a slight headache now? Let’s move to the next news…

Hindu temples – is there double standards?

I am not sure why this piece of story is in the news today but it's fine with me. It seems ok that it is not the “same” local authority in the news (unless you are talking about local authority that is in the “hot soup” for landslides in Ulu Klang) but doesn’t it make you wonder?

[Long story cut short] The Sri Maha Nageswary Amman Alayam began as a small shrine in 1960 and is located along Jalan Bukit Belachan, the temple stands by the banks of Sungai Ampang. The wooden structure gave way to a brick building. During annual festivals, the temple receives about 5,000 devotees. Ampang Jaya Municipal councillor Balagurunathan Sambasivam said the temple had powers to fulfil prayers and vows. Kumara, the current temple chairman said MPAJ's decision to allow the temple to remain at Parcel B was “godsend''. “We have been told that the temple grounds would be gazetted and MPAJ has asked us to beautify the temple,” he said. “The new look will include a dome and statues incorporated into the temple's facade, '' said Balagurunathan.

In 1985, the Gurdwara Sahib Lembah Jaya came to be along the same road. “It will also be upgraded,'' said its chairman Gurdev Singh of the temple that began out of a squatter house. It was the place where Sikh devotees offered prayers. Now, it is an air-conditioned structure with a carpeted prayer hall, dining hall and kitchen.

Both the Hindu and Sikh temples are located on reserve land. “When MPAJ proposed to upgrade the area, the Indian and Sikh communities requested for the temples to be spared,'' he said. Their prayers were answered

Ok, have read the story above? It is not a hundred year old temple that “deserved” to be demolished and somehow MPAJ acted in a better understanding than it’s counterparts in MBSA and DBKL (despite the fact that the origin of the temples a bit questionable and the story in the paper was almost like from Tamil serials – with snakes & all that but that is not the point now).

The temple committees may be jumping in joy now but I wonder whether they have taken the necessary legalistic steps to ensure that the legal rights of the temples to be on the reserve land will not questioned in future. We do not want to see 100 hundreds years (or rather another 54 years) down the line and the temple committee is crying fault when MPAJ is all up with bulldozers demolishing the temples because it is illegal and on reserve land earmarked for development. In 54 years time, there might new development on that area which requires relocation. Will these temples be adequately protected by then?

You may highlight that the newspaper mentioned that the temple grounds would be gazetted. My reply would be is watch out for the word “would be”. In time, the “would be” act may be forgotten if no one follows it up. The word “would be” does not have a good track record among Malaysian politics; otherwise the tragedy at Ulu Klang would not have happened (if you get my drift).

The story is titled “Their prayers have been answered”. The question that begged to be answered is “For how long?” If no one is following up on the matter, I dare say that it may not be for long.

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