Non-Muslim shrines to get more space in Malaysian state

June 7th, 2008 - 1:15 pm ICT by IANS  


Kuala Lumpur, June 7 (IANS) Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Christian shrines in Malaysia’s Selangor state will be allowed to utilise more space than currently permitted as the state governmnet proposes to lift curbs on the size of non-Muslim communities’ places of worship. The religious minorities in the Muslim majority state are currently required to build their shrines within 10,000 square feet. The state’s health, plantation workers, poverty and caring government committee Chairman A. Xavier Jayakumar said this limit was “impractical”.

No predetermined limits on size, length and height would be imposed on any religious community, the Indian origin official said, adding that town planners must consider the size and needs of the communities.

“The proposed places of worship should be big enough to cater to the needs of a particular religious community in any area,” he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.

The state has also decided to allocate more development funds than the present three million ringgit ($800,000).

Jayakumar said that places of worship would no longer be built next to sewage ponds, high-tension wires or power substations.

“These matters should be decided through discussions between the communities and the local authorities and dealt with on a case-to-case basis,” he told a press conference Friday after meeting representatives from various faiths at the state secretariat building.

Planners will also be required to set aside more land for non-Muslim places of worship, said Jayakumar. He cited the example of the large Hindu population in Bandar Botanic, Klang, that had no space for a temple because the land set aside for non-Mulsim shrines had been given to other religious communities, The Star newspaper reported Saturday.

Jayakumar urged religious groups to refrain from spreading rumours about the destruction of temples.

“Such rumours only cause tension. The public should contact us first before jumping to conclusions,” he said in a reference to the campaign by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), a body of Tamil Hindus.

The multi-ethnic Malaysia has over two million Hindus from India and Sri Lanka, besides Buddhists, Christians and 100,000 Sikhs whose ancestors settled in the country during the British era.

Indian origin Jayakumar is a dentist by profession, a legislator and a prominent leader of the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) headed by former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.

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