Temple Fiasco Revisited

Almost a year ago, I talked about the temple fiasco faced in the state of Selangor and the latest protest by Section 23 residents had somehow prompted me to revisit this delicate issue

In my post titled ‘Temple Fiasco & MP Resigning”  I laid down 6 steps that the state government could look at when dealing with the many Hindu temples in the state.

The steps, nothing new, are as follows:-

Step 1

Register all temples and proper classify them into large, medium and small temples. Just how many temples are there in Selangor or in other states – anyone has the right figure? And how many of it is illegal? When it comes to registration of temples, the temple committee cannot act ignorant and wait until it is too late – there is no way the Government is going to know each and every temple before registration. The committee members must be proactive to get their temples registered and ensure the existence and future expansion of the temple is done by the book. So that if there is any dispute in future, the temple will have a stronger case to fall back to.

Step 2

Verify the number of years the temple has been in existence – we cannot afford to have a temple sprouting out every time someone decides to worship different deities. 100 years old temples on the hand should be relooked from the angle of preservation of heritage and tourism as well

Step 3

Verify the status of land where the temple is situated – this is one of the biggest issue in the past – it’s funny how 100 years old temples are “overlooked” by some officials and reclassify them as “squatters”. It is not like the temples been hidden somewhere for the past 99 years and decide to pop up in recent years!

Step 4

If the temple is “wrongly” situated in the land, then what’s next? Make a study and decide whether the status of the land need to be changed to accommodate this temple OR whether the temple need to be demolished and merged with another temple in the same area OR relocated with a proper documents and better facilities.

Step 5

If demolishment is really, really needed, then define what would be the right way of doing it? High-handed tactics must be strictly avoided and a closer working with the devotees, temple committee and representatives from the State and NGOs must be done

Step 6

Proper guidelines must be drawn out for future development. The existence of legal and registered temples must be acknowledged and the developer needs to revise the development layout plan that takes these temples into consideration. No more having major highway or future commercial development running in the middle of 100 years old temples

The question is what has been done todate?

Has the temples in the state has been duly registered? Has some kind of studies been made with the help of various NGOs and temple committee members so that ‘feasibility’ of having too many temples in certain areas and so on. Has some guidelines been drawn-up?

The State Government, to be fair, have taken the necessary steps in handling this sensitive issue – read here on steps taken todate

But then again, there is a limit on what the state government can do. The rest is up to the various temple committee members themselves. And one major step that the committee members can do is to consolidate.

Let me illustrate the problem with the temples in Puchong:-

Temples1

Listed here is the many temples situated within about 5 kilometres radius.

Temple 1 is about 2.6 kilometres away from Temple 2 and Temple 3 is about 4 kilometres away from Temple 4. Out of the 5 temples listed, let’s focus on Temples 1, 2 & 3. From the start Temples 1 & 3 (both are more than 100 years old)  has been ‘screwed’ by the previous BN led government when the layout for the LDP Highway was laid down for approval. The highway squeezed the said temples and they are now precariously situated at the edge of a busy highway.

I recall several years ago when Litrak wanted to expand the lanes and they wanted to relocate / demolish Temple 1. There was a huge protest and Litrak backed off – end result, a tight bottle-neck near the temple. Temple 3 faced a similar problems.

With plans to relocate / demolish disbanded, one would have expected that the temple committee members would  now have enough time to properly save the temple from potential problems. Nothing much spectacular came out from this. The temple remained as it is but increasingly being squeezed by surrounding developments, making traffic and travelling to pray a nightmare.

temple2

Look at Temple 1 (red) closer – it is surrounded by the LDP highway, commercial buildings (green) and a police station (blue). There is no more room for further development. And when there is religious celebrations, there is hardly any place for the devotees to pray comfortably.

As for Temple 3 (remember the “snake magically appearing” incident couple years ago), there is some space for expansion at the back of the temple but having the temple at the fast corner of the highway seems way too dangerous. This is so during certain temple festivals where the worshippers simply park their cars along the side of the highway and put the other highway users in danger.

Temple 2 fared better between the 3 temples – it has been properly renovated to accommodate a large number of worshippers, has more room to expand in future, ample of parking spots (provided there is no developments at the front of the temple) and situated at least 100 metres away from edge of the busy highway.

Given the close proximity of the 3 temples, it makes more sense that Temple 1 & 3 to merge with Temple 2 as one temple.

Now think of the potential benefits of consolidation!

Cash from sale of land where Temple 1 & 3 now situated (if any) can be reused to purchase the land next to and on the front of Temple 2 (the temple can also organise fund-raising event to collect the money needed). The additional land then can be used for future expansion of the temple (perhaps to place the deities from Temple 1 & 3), building of a proper wedding hall (which has a separate area for dining) and more organised parking area (perhaps 7 storey building just for parking). Booking fees from wedding halls and parking tickets should generate more income for the temple to organise religious and cultural activities.

At the same time, temple management can be more streamlined (with healthy cashflow) and the devotees would have one place to go for their prayers, religious and cultural activities.

That’s the way that various temple committees need to look at and start moving on – consolidate and expand properly instead of jealously guarding their turfs whilst adding pressure on its current location.

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