Kek Lok Si Temple destruction of Ayer Itam River

By Lim Cheok Siang Jimmy
How can the people of Penang allow this development? Development? It is destruction!!!!! Obliterating further the natural heritage of Penang. Is this not environmental destruction of the worst kind? River pollution downstream. Why were the rocks allowed to be destroyed? If there is anything one could do to hold the Authorities responsible they should be brought to face the music.

It was irresponsible of MPPP to allow this to go ahead! Of course they could stop it. Is there some reason why this destruction has to happen?

The ancient rocks painted by many old artists of Penang. Khaw Sia used to live round the corner.

The temple has expanded so big and so fast that one begins to wonder whether it is about religion or big business? Kek Lok Si was started humbly. Its roots very clearly set out as the fundamental philosophy of fitting in with Nature. Nature was supreme in the founding Foochow Monks’ philosophy. Their monastery outside Foochow was built among rocks. So was the original Kek Lok Si.

This type of insensitive development must stop.

The MPPP must assume responsibility for such destruction.

The view of the Temple as one approaches Ayer Itam from the junction to Penang Hill train station is appalling. All the newer additions to it are out of scale. Dwarfing the original structures including the pagoda. The recently opened Goddess of Mercy Kwan Yin pavillion built at the cost of, I was told, RM40 million, not including the statue, is not only offensive to the eye but also money mis-spent. 

It is of course a great attraction for the proletariats but then, good taste has never been their inclination. Call me elitist … it is good common sense that counts. China’s long history is so full of good tastes and fine lifestyles. Malaysian Chinese are generally descendants of peasants; I am one of them. Being born with bad taste does not mean that you have to continue to consume it. Can people the likes of the monks, Board of Trustees and their consultants crawl out of the gutter of bad environmental taste and contribute towards the preservation and conservation of whatever little that this little Island has?

In this respect, as the custodian of Heritage both man-made as well as natural, PHT should organise a meeting to discuss this issue for members who feel strongly about the destruction of a priceless natural setting of ancient rocks and trees. In the event that PHT is short of manpower, a “KLS Watch Group” could be formed.

It is time for the Local Authority to take stock of their social and environmental responsibilities. I think gone are the days of Local Government running rough shod over the environment for the benefit of a few people. That site adjacent to an Old Temple was God’s gift to the People of Penang.

The Temple in its destruction of these rocks, old trees and stream deemed to be gifts from God, is not setting a good example for us mortals who look toward these religious institutions for our salvation. What would the high priest and the chairman of the Kek Lok Si Board and their architect (oh, almost forgot the engineers too), have to say when they meet God and is asked “Why did you destroy my gifts to people of Penang to enjoy?” I’ll hate to be in their shoes … Goddess Kwan Yin may perhaps show them mercy for their destruction.

It is essential that PHT should be vigilant from being influenced by people with vested interests or those with hidden agendas about preservation and conservation. Organisations that are well established tend to become entrenched as they become ‘gentrified’. Gentrification is getting well endowed and becoming pompous perhaps?? It also means that you are no longer in good condition or fit. Putting it another way, you are not “Lean and Mean”. That is why whenever you have a new change in Government, it is good … until they start to get ‘gentrified’. PHT should not be like many NGOs that have lost their objectives and wallow in their “Gentrification”.

More people should get together to see how the message can get across. Perhaps shome external help? That is what Penang likes … outside ideas.