KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 — Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) started demolishing illegal extensions to the Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman Hindu temple at Jalan P. Ramlee this morning, amidst claims that the government promised to stay its hand until it concludes discussions with interested parties.
A demolition squad from the local authority, accompanied by police, is understood to have turned up at the temple at around 7.30am to tear down the annexe of the temple, believed to be 101 years old.
Police also arrested PKR leader S. Jayathas, who was among the first to arrive at the temple after word got out that demolition work was underway.
“Jayathas’ arrest was totally without basis. He went there to demand an explanation as to why the demolition was carried out without any notice. We regard it as an attempt to intimidate with unlawful arrest,” PKR vice-president and Padang Serai MP N. Surendran told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.
Surendran, who arrived at the scene after Jayathas’ arrest, also slammed the government for tearing down all but the main shrine of the century-old temple, going beyond the initial eight feet clearance that was demanded for to make way for infrastructure work for a nearby commercial development.
“This is an act of vindictiveness and revenge by the authorities against the temple committee for refusing to budge from the temple land.
“The main question now is why they suddenly went back on everything they promised? The main dispute was for eight feet (of land). All the while that was all that they demanded, but this went way beyond what they demanded,” he said, adding that he will file an emergency motion in Parliament tomorrow on the demolition work.
MIC Youth social and welfare chairman Arvind Krishnan, who was also on site along with DAP’s former Teluk Intan member of parliament M. Manogaran, claimed that there was supposed to be a meeting scheduled for this November 19 with Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk Loga Bala Mohan to discuss the status of the temple.
“But they are very cunning. They planned this ahead, waiting for our Johor MIC convention because they know that we would not be able to come out in full force.
“DBKL even brought along these bodybuilders as bouncers, and they roughed up one of my youth members... MIC Youth will not accept any apology from Ku Nan or Loga Balan,” he said, referring to Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and his deputy Datuk Loga Bala Mohan.
Arvind also claimed that the authorities did not produce any court order or order from the Land and Mines Department (PTG) to support their action.
Temple secretary WM Nalini said they were not informed of this morning’s demolition work, claiming that no explanation was given to them by the authorities.
According to Nalini, DBKL tore down the temple’s kitchen, priest’s court, washroom and meeting room while smaller statues were moved to the main shrine that was left intact.
“There was a meeting (scheduled) on (November) 19, but I don’t know why they came with surprise (sic). They don’t want to speak to us. We have no idea who’s the person in charge,” she said when met at the temple site.
Temple legal advisor and former DAP Teluk Intan MP M. Manogaran, meanwhile, said they will likely lodge a police report on the matter and launch a legal challenge against the demolition, apart from holding protests and taking the issue up to Parliament.
It is understood that demolition work has stopped and excavators are now working to remove the rubble.
The temple is at the centre of an on-going controversy surrounding the planned demolition of its annexe to make way for infrastructure work for a 31-storey office building to be built by Menara Hap Seng Sdn Bhd.
Nine people were arrested last September 1 during a scuffle between protesters and DBKL officers on duty to move statues of deities erected in the annexe, including MIC Youth chief T. Mohan.
Earlier in September, Tengku Adnan promised that the government would not tear down the temple, saying that only a small portion of the canteen and an illegally erected restaurant adjacent to the temple would be demolished.
He added that the government would foot the bill to beautify the temple compound and put up a fence on its perimeter.