KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — A RM10 million budget to renovate a Hindu temple in Klang, Selangor has drawn the ire of Muslim activists who today claimed the project promotes “infidel religions” and jeopardises Malaysia’s position as an “Islamic country”.
Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) said the Sri Sundaraja Perumal temple renovation, if allowed to proceed, would lower Malaysia’s image as a modern “Islamic country” in the eyes of Muslim tourists—especially those from the Middle East.
“A project like that has gone beyond the Constitution’s meaning which guarantees freedom of religion because it has exceeded the Constitution’s provision which promises the right to practise a religion,” said ISMA president Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman in a statement.
“The Prime Minister has pledged to uphold and raise the syiar (glory) of Islam. Any desire to renovate holy sites over what is necessary, such as under the name of tourist attraction goes against that pledge.”
Abdullah claimed that the renovation is an attempt by non-Muslims who are trying to promote their religion using an “unhealthy” competition without respecting Malaysia’s alleged status as an “Islamic country”.
Sri Sundaraja Perumal is currently being rebuilt as a tourism icon for Klang, and is expected to open its doors to global worshippers and tourists from 2015.
It was the first granite temple in the country, which structure followed a design formulae defined by southern Indian temple builders thousands of years ago, according to temple president S. Anandakrishnan.
The Hindu temple—dubbed the Thirupathi of South-East Asia after a famed temple in India—has enlisted the efforts of 50 stone carvers and their families in Kanchipuram, 60km from Chennai, India, to craft the all-granite temple.
Last month, ISMA had attacked a planned 500-acre mega tourism project in Pahang called the “1Malaysia Spiritual Tourism” project, calling it a challenge to the position of Islam as the religion of the federation.
The project, which is undertaken by a company called Enchant Acres Sdn Bhd, will include the creation of a religious and cultural retreat in Pahang that promotes Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Christianity, as well as the Sai Baba and I-Kuan Tao movements, according to the company website.
The group had also criticised the recent construction of Calvary Church’s Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur that is touted as the largest church building in Southeast Asia.
The Pentecostal church is 600,000 square-feet large and has a 5,000 seat auditorium, as well as a multi-purpose hall, a nursery, lecture halls, and classrooms. Retail stores and cafes will also be built soon.