Ten people including MIC Youth chief T Mohan and PKR activist S Jayathas were today arrested when trying to stop Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) from erecting a wall at a 101-year-old temple at Jalan P Ramlee.
Also arrested in the standoff, which lasted at least five hours today, were two representatives of the Golden Triangle Muneswarar Kuil.
The rest are MIC Youth exco members and an aide to PKR’s Padang Serai MP N Surendran. They are believed to have been brought to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters.
The activists had tried to stop DBKL from entering the temple as they said the temple committee were not notified of the construction work, as claimed by the DBKL.
Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Mansor’s aide R Ramanan, however, said that notice will be issued tomorrow as the mayor is currently overseas.
Speaking after an hour’s meeting with MIC and PPP representatives, he added that work will continue despite protests, as this is a government decision.
Ramanan, who came an hour after the scuffles broke out, said the work was to mark off eight-feet-wide strip of land which the government is giving to Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd.
“It is not to demolish the temple,” he said, adding that the temple had encroached into government land and the wall will serve as a boundary.
The first scuffle broke out after DBKL contractors hacked off deities which were cemented onto an altar placed at the temple annexe, located within area to be cleared.
This resulted in the arrest of Jayathas and two temple representatives.
Temple committee chairperson RK Bala said that DBKL personnel had also entered with their boots on, while some were smoking.
He said that the removal of the deities should have been preceded with prayers and not in such a thuggish manner.
DBKL halted operations temporarily upon the urging of Padang Serai MP N Surendran and PPP Federal Territories chief A Chandrakumanan (middle, seated) but continued after Ramanan left.
“They removed our Lingam. I had tears in my eyes,” Chandrakumanan told Ramanan at the meeting.
Chandrakumanan also pointed out that the prime minister, in a note to Tengku Adnan dated June 26, instructed that no action should be taken on the matter until a final decision is taken.
At the meeting, Ramanan also promised to put in the notice that only eight feet will be taken, and that Hap Seng will help beautify the temple as part of their corporate social responsibility.
Hap Seng is building a 30-storey office building next to the temple.
The MIC youth leaders were all nabbed in subsequent scuffles, with one breaking out after a DBKL personnel securing the worksite asking the activists whether they “had brains”.
No notice from DBKL
Shouting and shoving, which happened while the temple bells rang in the background, carried on for several hours with activists even attempting a sit-in protest.
Work proceeded while about 20 activists sat cross-legged chanting “Om Shanti“.
Also clearly upset was temple caretaker RA Saroja, 57, who was also manhandled when she tried to push DBKL officers off the temple grounds and into the eight-feet boundary.
“Yesterday, we were all ‘1Malaysia! Merdeka!’ Is this what Merdeka is about?” she shouted.
The temple was also due to hold Merdeka prayers today, but it was cancelled following the incident. DBKL’s completed erecting most of the wall at about 3.30pm.
Meanwhile, the temple’s legal advisor M Manogaran said the temple committee had snubbed meetings with the government as they refuse to concede the disputed land.
He also stressed that today’s work, which was done by DBKL with the help of police, was also without notice.
“They say they sent (a letter), but it was not received. In other cases, they even paste the notice to ensure it is served, but here there is nothing,” he said.
Later this evening, all 10 detainees were released. Lawyer Michelle Yesudas told Malaysiakini that they were investigated under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing public servants in discharging their duties. – Malaysiakini