KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — A unit of Philippines’ conglomerate Ayala Corporation described as “absolutely inaccurate” news reports saying a developer it owns was responsible for hiring thugs to incite violence at a Hindu temple in Subang Jaya.
Its property arm Ayala Land Inc controls One City Development Sdn Bhd, which in turn owns the land where the temple is currently located.
Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin alleged yesterday that individuals linked to the firm were responsible for paying local youths to terrorise the temple in order to occupy the site.
“Media reports now point to our company for the hiring of unruly people to instigate riots and civil unrest, all for the purpose of relocating the temple.
“These reports are absolutely inaccurate,” Ayala Land said in a statement today,
It repeated One City Development’s previous assertion that the latter’s personnel that were “on site were in fact directed to provide logistical support and assist in the orderly relocation under police watch”.
Ayala Land today insisted that the operations to relocate the temple had “always been coordinated with the local authorities and relevant agencies to ensure its proper and peaceful relocation”.
Three of the firm’s employees were among the over 30 people arrested so far over the violence.
“We are cognisant and respectful of the cultural and religious sensitivities in Malaysia, which we thought were being handled appropriately,” the company said.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said “foreigners” who did not understand local culture and sensitivities had made a mistake by hiring Malays to guard the Hindu temple, adding that it was a criminal matter which was not a racial or religious issue.
The two days of unrest on November 26 and November 27 at the Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam temple in USJ 25, Subang Jaya had resulted in property damage including the torching of cars, and also injuries to several individuals including a fireman who was in critical condition but has now stabilised.
November 26 was when the landowner’s latest attempt to have the temple relocated and the land vacated was scheduled to take place, according to Muhyiddin.
In the statement today, One City Development and Ayala Land said they were both “truly saddened” by how recent events had unfolded over the temple’s relocation, asserting that they had not rushed in having the temple shifted away from their land.
“Our unwavering value for law, order, peace and harmony are the reasons why we have taken our time in exercising the execution of the Consent Judgement for the temple’s relocation which was issued in 2014 by Shah Alam High Court,” they said.
Ayala Land was referring to a 2014 court order, where all parties — including those claiming to be the temple management, landowner One City Development and the Selangor government — had agreed for the temple to be relocated with new land and funds for a new temple to be provided by One City Development.
One City Development’s efforts to take possession of the land it owns has been unsuccessful even though the court-recognised temple administrator K. Chellappa is willing to relocate the temple to the new land, as another faction of temple devotees have insisted on staying put.
“We sincerely regret the situation. We are fully committed to the Malaysian government and the leadership of the prime minister for guidance and appropriate resolution at the earliest possible time,” Ayala Land said.
Ayala Land, reportedly the biggest property developer in the Philippines, has a controlling stake in Malaysia’s public-listed firm MCT Berhad.
MCT Berhad, through its wholly-owned subsidiary MCT Consortium Bhd, fully owns One City Development.