Temple demolition caused poll defeat: Malaysia’s ex-minister

April 18th, 2008 - 4:30 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, April 18 (IANS) The demolition of a Hindu temple in October last year was the “atomic bomb” that “chased away” the Indian vote from Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in last month’s general election, says former minister and ethnic Indian leader S. Samy Vellu. “That one temple that was demolished in Padang Jawa became a big atomic bomb which chased away the Indian community. We blindly smashed the temples and we paid the price for it. If we had ‘jaga jaga’ (looked after) the temples, we would have won the Indian vote,” he told reporters at the headquarters of his Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) here.

Vellu, who is president of the MIC that represents the ethnic Indians’ interests in the BN, himself lost his ninth re-election bid.

The BN paid the price for the “rash actions of some leading to the Indian vote going largely to the opposition”, he said.

The former works minister said the BN would have Indian support if it had addressed the issue of the temples properly, the New Straits Times reported.

The demolition of the temple by the Selangor state government last October was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, Vellu said.

The demolition had taken place a week before Deepavali, the biggest festival of the Hindus worldwide, a point that rankled with the community in Malaysia.

In the run-up to the elections, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had admitted to “mistakes” in handling the sensitive issue.

In the election, BN lost its two-thirds majority advantage, emerging weaker with a simple majority.

Ethnic Indians, predominantly Tamil Hindus, form eight percent of Malaysia’s 28 million population.

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