A Hindu temple management committee in Penang is furious that a land parcel alienated to them by the former BN government is now being 'disputed'.
(FMT) - Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy has been accused of trying to ‘seize’ a land parcel belonging to the Sri Veera Kaliaman temple for the Penang Hindu Endowments Board (PHEB).
The 622.7sq metre plot of land plot, situated next to Batu Uban’s Road Transport Department (RTD) office, was allocated to the temple by the previous Barisan Nasional government in 2004.
The temple acting chairman P Janarthanan said the freehold plot was allocated to the temple as a replacement to facilitate the temple’s relocation from its original place in Kampung Selamat in Sungai Dua after Muslim residents protested against its existence.
The lot was given to them free of charge.
He said the temple, registered in 1970, was established more than 100 years ago when the area was a large colonial coconut plantation and occupied by Tamil Hindu indentured labourers.
He alleged that Ramasamy was now a stumbling block between the state authorities and the temple committee over what could have been a smooth transfer of the land title to the temple.
“We are now in dilemma on whether or not our temple will ever be issued its rightful land title by the state authorities,” Janarthanan told FMT.
He revealed that Ramasamy has allegedly rebuffed the temple’s rightful land ownership by refusing to recognise and verify all documents produced by the committee pertaining to it.
He said Ramasamy had even claimed that no documents were available in the Land Office to prove that the land was alienated to the temple.
“He indeed told us that the previous government’s exco minutes and related documents were all missing,” Janarthanan said.
Instead of facilitating matters for the temple, he said Ramasamy had suggested for the committee to handover the temple to PHEB.
Janarthanan said Ramasamy reasoned that since the current government did not recognise the original land alienation, it was only ideal that the temple was handed over to PHEB.
Only by doing so, Janarthanan said, the DAP politician claimed that the land would be given to the temple.
“Ramasamy is misusing his position as DCM 2 and abusing his power as PHEB chairman to seize our rightful land,” slammed Janarthanan.
‘It was only a proposal’
Ramsamy, when contacted, dismissed Janathanan’s claims that the PHEB was attempting to grab the temple land. He also denied abusing his position as DCM2.
Ramasamy said it was only a state government proposal to the committee to handover the temple to PHEB so that the land can be obtained for a low premium.
“The board is not out to grab anyone’s land. It was only a proposal to help the temple,” he said.
Ramasamy said the state made the proposal after it was found that the previous government’s documents were ambiguous on whether the land was alienated for the temple as replacement land or for a premium of over RM200,000.
But Janarthanan insisted that the land was alienated as replacement land as confirmed by memo issued to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on Feb 18, 2010 by the state Land and Mines Department (PTG) director Ariffin Awang
A check by FMT found that the memo clearly stated that the 622.7sqm land on Lot Nos 1668 was alienated under ‘freehold’ for the temple on Sept 29, 2004.
The temple moved from Kampung Selamat to its current Batu Uban site on Jan 31, 2005 after the Penang municipality (MPPP) issued its planning approval for the new temple structure on Nov 10, 2004.
When told this, Ramasamy said that he would need to re-check the files.
Janarthanan chided Ramasamy’s PHEB-takeover proposal as challenging the power of the chief minister, who had actually acknowledged the temple’s rightful ownership of Lot 1668, via an official letter to the temple committee on March 1, 2010.