100-year-old Hindu temple in Malaysia razed

via IANS published on December 1, 2006

A 100-year-old Hindu temple in Malaysia has been demolished following a court order. The deities will move to a new site provided by the authorities.

Contractors appointed by the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) bulldozed the Sri Muthu Mariamman temple Thursday at Skudia in Johor in southern Malaysia after a court order Tuesday seeking vacation of the temple premises, reported the New Straits Times Friday.

The temple was situated at the Uniroyal Linden Estate, a rubber plantation that was home to around 1,000 families.

UTM, a public university with its main campus in Skudai, had first made claims on the plantation in 1992. Prior to that, in 1975, Malaysia’s education ministry had bought off the plantation land for UTM.

Since 1992, there have been various attempts to save the temple. Help was sought from the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), the premier political party representing the Indian community in Malaysia, and the Johor state government.

Ethnic Indians, mostly Hindus, comprise around eight percent of Malaysia’s total population of around 24 million.

The New Straits Times report quoted temple president A. Subramaniam as saying that his family had been looking after the temple for three generations.

‘Soon after the sale of the plantation land to UTM in 1975, most menfolk lost their jobs and subsequently in 1987 UTM asked us to move out of our quarters,’ he told the newspaper. ‘We were lucky to obtain low-cost houses through MIC.’

Temple authorities are planning to move the deities to another location provided by the Johor state government.

A UTM lawyer told the dialy on condition of anonymity that the demolition process was carried out smoothly and there were no protests or demonstrations.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Hindu Sangam president A. Vaithilingam has condemned the demolition.

‘While it is true the education ministry acquired the land for UTM, the authorities should have been fully aware that the old temple existed there,’ he said in a statement.

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