Stop quarrel over temple demolition: Badawi

April 30th, 2008 - 4:16 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, April 30 (IANS) Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has asked two of his senior colleagues to stop a verbal duel in public over demolition of a Hindu temple last year, an issue that upset the ethnic Indian community here. Threatening disciplinary action, Badawi said a directive would be issued to ensure all component parties of the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) and individual members stop pointing fingers at one another.

Asked whether his warning would restrict freedom among the component parties, Abdullah retorted: “We have discipline in the party. Which party does not have discipline? It will be a problem if the party does not have discipline,” The Star newspaper said.

The controversy surrounds demolition of the Kampung Rimba Jaya Hindu temple near Shah Alam in Selangor state Nov 15 last year, a week before Deepavali.

Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) President S. Samy Vellu said the demolition so close to the festival acted as the “atom bomb” during last month’s general elections, when disenchanted Tamil Hindus voted for the opposition.

Vellu, who himself lost his ninth bid to enter Parliament, blamed Selangor’s then Mentri Besar (Chief Minister) Mohamad Khir Toyo for not heeding his entreaties made in the presence of Badawi.

Toyo has hit back with his own version of the events saying that at one time, Vellu had himself suggested that the temple be razed since activists of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) planned to seize it and occupy it.

“The prime minister was there when Samy Vellu asked me to put off the demolition of the temple in Padang Jawa in the interest of the Indian community and we stopped the exercise despite having a court order to go ahead,” Toyo said Tuesday.

In an interview to Malaysiankini journal, Vellu said that the idols had been taken away and the inner portion of the temple already vacated Nov 15 despite his pleas. There was no point in keeping the temple’s exteriors.

Ten days after the demolition, Hindraf, alleging that some 35,000 Hindu shrines have been destroyed in Malaysia since 1957, staged a 10,000-strong protest rally. Five of its organisers have since been detained.

BN lost its two-thirds majority in the last election. A post-poll study said that an estimated 69 percent Tamil Hindus, who form the bulk of the ethnic Indian population, voted for the opposition.

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