Malaysia

Selangor to proceed with temple in Section 23

By Syed Mu'az Syed Putra
October 19, 2010

 A protester holds the severed cow-head as the group makes its way to the Selangor state secretariat after Friday prayers. A protester holds the severed cow-head as the group makes its way to the Selangor state secretariat after Friday prayers.SHAH ALAM, Oct 19 — The controversial relocation of a Hindu temple to Section 23 here which sparked off a racially-charged cow-head protest one year ago will proceed.

State Welfare executive councillor Rodziah Ismail said the decision to proceed with the relocation was made after taking into account the views of all parties, including the Sri Maha Mariamman temple management.

“We have decided that the temple will be relocated to Section 23, Shah Alam. The temple management has also agreed with this decision and we hope all parties including those staying in Section 19 will accept this decision,” she told The Malaysian Insider. In September last year, the Selangor government’s decision to relocate the temple was met with heavy protest by the predominantly Muslim community of Section 23.

Protesters stomping on a severed cow-head in front of the Selangor state secretariat.Protesters stomping on a severed cow-head in front of the Selangor state secretariat.The residents instead urged the temple to be moved to the originally proposed site in Section 22.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim was forced to temporarily shelve the relocation of the 150-year-old Sri Mahamriamman temple to Section 23 after a state organised town hall meeting was hijacked by protesting residents.

“Construction on the temple in Section 23 is scheduled to begin early next month and we expect it to be ready in early December. I hope that the construction will run smoothly without any interruption,” Rodizah said.

She added that a meeting with residents at Section 19 will be held to explain the state’s decision.

The Selangor State government heckled by protesters during a town hall meeting held last year.The Selangor State government heckled by protesters during a town hall meeting held last year.“We will explain to the people here (Section 19) to inform them of this decision. It is important that they know what the status on this issue is,” she said.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the temple will be constructed in an industrial area far from residential areas of Section 23.

When The Malaysian Insider visited the middle class neighbourhood last year, the faded graffiti on the zinc fence surrounding the disputed site reflected the feelings of residents.

“We object to this temple”, “Pakatan Rakyat cannot be trusted” and “Rodziah babi” were written on the fence. Rodziah Ismail is the Batu Tiga state assemblywoman, which covers the area, and an executive councillor in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government.

The Malay residents said that the cow-head protest underlined their anger and frustration against a government unwilling to heed their views.

They argued that the location was not strategic because it was unsuitable for a temple to be built in a predominantly Muslim community.

Graffiti near the proposed site of the temple makes it clear how residents here feel.Graffiti near the proposed site of the temple makes it clear how residents here feel.In July, 12 cow-head protesters were fined RM1,000 each for illegal assembly by the sessions court in Shah Alam. Two of the protestors were fined RM3,000 for sedition while one of the two was also ordered to serve a week in jail.

Eyzva Ezhar Ramly, 31, was charged under the Section 4(1)(a) of the Sedition Act 1948 for “inciting racial animosity with carrying a cow-head”  along with the other accused, Mohd Azmir Mohd Zain.

Mohd Azmir was also charged under the same act for carrying and stepping on a cow-head with “the intention to create racial tension”.

Cows are considered a sacred animal to Hindus.

Mohd Azmir was fined RM3,000.

Four others who were also originally charged under the Sedition Act were given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal after they pleaded not guilty to the charges.