Will they or won’t they demolish that shrine again?


Steve Roads

The silence until now of the Selangor government over the destruction last week of a Hindu shrine inside the house of Gopikumar in Sepang had many people questioning the sincerity of Pakatan Rakyat in protecting religious rights in the state. The news made page one headlines in the Tamil papers but the Selangor government chose to remain silent for almost a week. 

In the incident, officers of the Sepang Municipal Council used sledgehammers to demolish the shrine built inside the porch. Yesterday, EXCO member Dr. Xavier Jayakumar issued a press statement defending the action. In the statement he also said the house owner did not get official approval to build the structure. Since when was it necessary to get permission to set up a shrine in one’s own home? As I understand it, it becomes illegal only when approval is not sought for any house modification that affects it structurally. 

A shrine does not in any way affect the structure of the building. An extension of Dr. Xavier’s rationale is that all the hundreds of religious shrines in the compounds of Chinese homes in Selangor must also face the sledgehammer. They were all built, and rightly so, without any need for official sanction.
Also, if that Gopikumar shrine was illegal, the Sepang authorities should take a ride in all the housing estates in the area and destroy the hundreds of extensions and modifications that have been built without permission.
It has been reported that Gopikumar’s shrine has since been rebuilt, in defiance of the Municipal order. If the Selangor state Government wishes to be credible, its officers should go in and demolish the shrine again. The question is, WILL IT?