KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — The commotion, which took place outside a Chinese temple in Sungai Besi, Cheras yesterday, stemmed from a misunderstanding between authorities and temple devotees who thought the building was about to be demolished, a deputy minister asserted today.
Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Jalaluddin Alias explained that officials from two government agencies and contractors had initially gone to the Wong Low Shen See Chee How Temple to set up a construction hoarding beside the house of worship.
The two agencies present were the Kuala Lumpur Land and Mines Office and the Department of Director General of Land and Mines (JKPTG).
A construction hoarding is a fence or barrier between a construction site and areas accessible to the public.
Jalaluddin noted that a site vacation notice had already been issued several months prior, on May 6 this year, by JKPTG in regards to a basketball court, guard post, parking lots, pedestrian bridge and walkway located near the temple.
“As announced, two schools are located in the vicinity of the temple — SJKC Tai Thung dan SMK Jalan Sungai Besi — where 24 classrooms involving the secondary school are due to be constructed.
“The agencies along with the contractors had gone to set up a hoarding beside the temple to pave way for an entry route to the aforementioned construction site at the school and not to demolish any temple structures as claimed by a group of devotees.
“In the viral video shared on the temple’s official Facebook page, it was seemingly portrayed as the authorities seeking to demolish the house of worship. This has generated an unhealthy and negative perception among netizens, especially on social media,” he said in a statement here.
Although the incident has now been resolved, Jalaluddin said he viewed the matter seriously as it involved public misconception between the temple devotees and their trust towards the authorities, especially when certain quarters had attempted to manipulate and exploit the incident through social media to sow public disorder.
In the incident, four individuals aged between 19 and 50 were arrested by the police after a viral video that was posted on social media depicted a group of people armed with sticks and metal rods clashing with police.
The group could also be seen vandalising an excavator parked nearby.
Jalaluddin then implored the authorities to speed up their investigations so that the incident’s cause could be identified and follow-up action can be taken.
“I am advising all quarters, whether devotees, authorities or even netizens on social media, to come to an understanding and halt all efforts to single out one’s differences so that an ideal agreement could be formed.
“Such an incident should never have to happen again elsewhere,” he said.