There are no details on why MBSA wants to demolish a 100 year old temple or whether inadequate compensation was offered for the land but the news is disturbing.
In part of Puchong where I am staying, there are 3 temples within close proximity – one opposite IOI Mall (at the end), the one next to Tamil School and another near Tractor Malaysia bend. Further up after the toll, there are another 2 more temples (used to be 3 but one was demolished by the local authorities sometime ago). All these temples are more than 100 years old – some even passed the 150 years mark.
A friend of mine who visited me sometime ago commented that there are too many temples here. But you see my friend does not know the history of Puchong. Puchong a 100 year ago did not have all these residential areas; it did not have commercial areas and certainly did not have a 4 lane highway running through it. There were just rubber estates. When the Indians came to work at these plantations, they built a temple to serve their religion needs. So, one temple that you see today is actually representing one plantation in those days. People in those days did not have transportations to go temples situated far away (yes, in those days, the distance between IOI Mall and Tractor Malaysia is far). It was also dangerous to be traveling at night. So, having a temple nearby made sense. Further, it was built with the assistance of the British owners.
Fast forward 100 years, you will find these temples situated at “awkward” places. Couple of years ago, the local authorities wanted to demolish the temple near IOI Mall because it was close to the junction of a highway. Fair enough but the local authorities did not clarify one thing. The temple was not built overnight – it has been there for the last 100 years. So, why didn’t the planning of the highway take into consideration of the location of the temple? If it has been a mosque (ya, brand me racist but that is the fact), I gather the highway would have gone around it, rather through it. Don’t say no.
So, when the local authorities came with the bulldozers, the people stopped it from being demolished (I heard MIC was involved to stop the demolition which is probably why the temple is still standing till today).
Time change and the situation changes too – with easy access, good transportation – going to a far away temple is not impossible. I do that often, going to the temple in Morib. So, demolishing smaller temples so that a big and well built temple can built is a good idea. In fact, the Perumal Temple (next to the Tamil School) can take over the role of the other temples. It has the space and resources to do so. Even now, I rarely go to the other 2 temples and the numbers of devotees are declining in others. We Hindus do not really need many temples to remind ourselves on our religion. We have altars at home which can serve the same need. Established and bigger temples can fill in the gap for others.
Now coming back to the news that a 100 year old will be demolished by MBSA, as I said I do not know the full story but demolishing a temple is a very sensitive issue. It should be left to the temple committee, Hindu Sangam and to some extend MIC to relocate the temple (if it means it will serve the Hindus better). But once you have stories like local authorities going to temple armed with rotans and pulverized the temple deities into smithereens, you will be left to wonder what the real motive behind all the demolitions is.
There is another consideration to be made before such demolitions are allowed – the fact that the temple is 100 years old. It is part of Malaysian heritage and should be preserved. How many building you can find that is more than 100 years old?
The action of the local authorities although maybe valid is highly insensitive especially in a multiracial country like Malaysia. If done in malice, those involved be better be ready to be answerable for their actions one day. If it is happening for Hindus, it can happen for other religions too.
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