Two opposition lawmakers booted out of Parliament for bringing up temple issue

November 27, 2013 10:12 AM

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Two opposition lawmakers were booted out from Parliament today for bringing up the demolition of the 101-year-old Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman Hindu temple.

PKR Subang MP R. Sivarasa (pic, right) and DAP Batu Gajah MP V. Sivakumar became the second and third opposition lawmakers to be ejected from the House after PKR Padang Serai MP N. Surendran was booted out two weeks ago for the same issue.

Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia today kicked out the two-term MP Sivarasa after the lawmaker said he wanted to discuss the solutions to the temple issue.

Sivarasa was then shot down by the speaker who said the ministry had explained the matter at length and that a court order had also been issued for the temple's demolition.

"The issue has been settled. It was previously raised before. Do not waste the House's time," said Pandikar.

Despite Sivarasa's repeated attempts to explain his stand, a clearly irate Pandikar was having none of it and ejected the former out of the House despite objections from other Pakatan Rakyat MPs.

An hour later, Sivakumar suffered the same fate for insisting that deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk J. Loga Balan Mohan state the latest updates on the temple issue, despite being told by the deputy speaker Datuk Ismail Mohamed Said to adhere to Pandikar's earlier ruling on the matter.

The first MP to be suspended over the temple issue was N. Surendran two weeks ago.

Later at a press conference, Sivarasa said Pandikar was "not objective" and "emotional".

"As an MP, I have the right to raise the issue but unfortunately, I was stopped by him. He does not seem neutral at all, as what a speaker should be."

He said the court order did not state that demolition work can be carried out on any part of the temple, adding that he would bring a copy of the court order to Parliament on Monday to prove Pandikar and the ministry wrong.

City Hall demolished the annexe of a 101-year-old Hindu temple on November 10, eight days after the Deepavali celebrations, after failing to do so in September following a protest from Hindu groups and politicians from both sides of the divide.

In the course of the demolition work, PKR activist S. Jayathas was detained by the police for trying to stop the work.

Earlier in September, MIC Youth chief T. Mohan was held by the police in a protest to stop City Hall from demolishing the temple in Jalan P. Ramlee in the Federal capital.

Police had also arrested a few others after a commotion outside the temple as more supporters streamed into the area to try and stop the demolition.

Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had at that time defended City Hall’s demolition of the illegal extensions to the temple, claiming the place of worship may have been used as a "facade" for illicit activities.

He also said the temple – which its devotees said has been around for 101 years – was only a "shrine", and did not meet the religious requirements to be labelled as a full-fledged temple.

The minister, however, refused to elaborate on the type of illicit activities that had allegedly been carried out within the temple.

Tengku Adnan also said his ministry had asked a Hindu “sami” (or priest) from India, who is based here, to examine the Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman temple before Deepavali this year.

He claimed that the priest was shocked at the condition of the house of worship: "The sami was appalled. He said the temple should have been demolished that day itself. "

Tengku Adnan added that the Hindu holy man had also found bottles of liquor in the temple’s bathroom.

Tengku Adnan had also said that the ministry would be upgrading the "shrine" into a tourist attraction and was looking into gazetting the land where it currently sits.

"Why do we always have problems with temples? Not with churches, mosques nor Chinese temples... Why? Ask yourself. Don't ask me," he asked.

"We will take action against anyone who does not abide by the laws, regardless of Christians, Hindus or Muslims."

He had insisted that the temple would be identified as a "shrine" and would not be given the entire land on which it currently sits on.

The first land clearance attempt by the City Hall came a day after Malaysia celebrated its 56th National Day.

The temple, which was built in 1911, sits on reserve land meant for roads or walkways and has to make way for a pedestrian walkway.

Last year, the temple committee received an eviction notice after Hap Seng Land, which is constructing a 30-storey office building on the adjacent plot, was told that it would only be given a Certificate of Fitness if it built a 2.4m walkway along the building according to City Hall requirements.

But that could not be done as the temple occupies the land. – November 27, 2013.


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