KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 — Nine individuals, including one PKR and six MIC Youth leaders, have been arrested so far in this morning’s standoff with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) over an allegedly “illegal” demolition of the 101-year-old Hindu temple on Jalan P. Ramlee.
Temple lawyer N. Surendran also alleged that “three or four gangsters”, whom he claimed had come with the council’s demolition team, assaulted him when he tried to stop them from tearing down the Golden Triangle Muneswarar Kuil.
Surendran, who is also PKR vice-president, confirmed the arrests of Hindraf-turned-PKR leader S. Jayathas, temple secretary Nalini and temple photographer Prem while MIC Youth information chief S. Subramaniam confirmed the arrests of six wing members.
“The standoff went on from about 8am to 10.30am when the contractors were brought in and they started work.
“These DBKL officers smashed three deities and took them out. We confronted them and asked for a negotiation but they continued to work until 10.30am until the cops came in and asked them to leave,” Surendran told The Malay Mail Online when contacted this morning.
He added that the demolition had been a surprise one as negotiation was still on-going when the contractors came in with their heavy machinery.
“There was no notice, it was a demolition by ambush… they just came in a day after Merdeka and began breaking it down. Negotiation was supposed to be still on-going… and there was no court order permitting it.
“It is illegal — that is my position as the temple’s lawyer,” he said.
Surendran said in the over two-hour long confrontation this morning, several men he labelled as “gangsters” taunted those who were attempting to call off the demolition.
The Padang Serai MP said the “gangsters” roughly pushed him around.
“I will be lodging a report later against them,” he said.
According to a report on news portal Malaysiakini, however, the DBKL officials at the site were not there to demolish the temple.
Quoting Raman Ramakrishnan, an aide to Federal and Urban Wellbeing minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, the portal reported that the officials were merely there to erect a retaining wall.
Meanwhile, The Malay Mail Online understands the arrested individuals have been brought to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters for questioning.
The six MIC leaders arrested today are its Youth chief T. Mohan, Youth secretary C. Sivaraj, Youth treasurer J. Dinagaran, federal territories youth deputy chief D. Tharmakumaran, youth exco members Somasundram and K. Kesavan.
A check this afternoon at the temple showed that its main building was still standing, with hoardings set up by one side of the building.
It is understood that the temple’s annexure will make way for a pathway for a development by Hup Seng.
According to The Star Online, the temple owners had received a notice from DBKL last year informing them they would have to make way for the construction of a new building on the temple grounds by developer Hup Seng Bhd.
The news portal reported that the century-old temple, the only Hindu place of worship within the Golden Triangle, currently sits on DBKL reserve land.
The Malay Mail Online understands that the temple committee protested the demolition plans and all involved parties agreed to take their grouses to the negotiation table.
The temple committee’s legal adviser M. Mamogaran said he would meet with the committee within next week to discuss their next move.
“This is a loss for the community and minority in the country,” he said, saying that the temple does not want to relocate.
He claimed that the prime minister had previously gave his assurance that the temple will not be demolished.
By Ida Lim and Clara Chooi, the Malay Mail.