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100 year old Hindu temple in Malaysia razed

Author: Indo-Asian News Service


Publication: The New Indian Express
Date: December 2, 2006
URL: http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEW20061201084326
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 on Thursday at Skudia in Johor in southern Malaysia after a
court order on Tuesday seeking vacation of the temple premises, reported the New
Straits Times on 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.