Ex-MIDA chief snubs Selangor invite to head Batu Caves taskforce

(The Malaysian Insider) – Former Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) chief Datuk N. Sadasivan has rejected the Selangor government’s offer for him to lead the state’s taskforce on a controversial Batu Caves condominium project.

Sadasivan, who received the offer yesterday, confirmed with The Malaysian Insider this morning that he had declined the appointment but did not state a reason.

“Yes, I did receive the Selangor government’s offer but I rejected it. At this juncture, I cannot comment,” he said when contacted.

Yesterday, Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim announced the state executive council’s decision to appoint Sadasivan to the taskforce, two weeks after the state issued a temporary stop-work order on the Dolomite condominium pending the committee’s findings.

Khalid had cited Sadasivan’s vast experience, noting that the latter had previously served as a director in private companies and two government-owned financial institutions ― Bank Negara and Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Berhad ― as well as on state oil firm Petronas’s board of directors.

Khalid said he would meet with the committee this week to inform them of the state’s purpose and added that the committee would also be tasked with studying other construction projects within the Batu Caves area.

“Among the committee’s scope are to re-evaluate all the development projects that have been done and planned in Batu Caves, and take into account each aspect – including the people’s welfare, the Hindu community’s interest, environmental safety and existing legislation.”

“The state government is of the opinion that this committee’s scrutiny will benefit and add value to efforts to make Batu Caves a UNESCO World Heritage site,” he said.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in his speech at MIC’s Deepavali open house at Batu Caves, promised that Barisan National (BN) would stop the project were it to recapture Selangor in the next polls.

He had also said the BN government would apply to make Batu Caves a UNESCO World Heritage site after Malaysia’s term as a member of the World Heritage Commission ends in 2015.

The 29-storey Dolomite Park Avenue condominium project has turned into a political crisis as Batu Caves is the religious focal point of Hindu Indians who form the majority of the 1.7 million Indians and are a key voting group in many urban seats in Selangor.

About 300 Hindu and non-governmental activists joined a “Save Batu Caves” rally in the Batu Caves temple complex to protest against the condominium construction on October 26, saying it was an environmental risk that would jeopardise the temple grounds but did not furnish proof to substantiate their allegations.

The project was given the nod by state authorities in 2007, but MIC and Barisan Nasional (BN) have in recent weeks pressured the current Pakatan Rakyat (PR) administration into calling a halt to the project amid a battle for Indian votes.