As an organisation championing and promoting freedom of expression and of religion, Aliran is deeply disturbed by the reported demolition of three Hindu temples by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) over the last few months. The latest of these demolitions involved the Aum Sri Siva Balakrishnan temple in Setapak.
Such drastic and insensitive action by the authorities could easily and understandably evoke frustration, anger and even hatred among the faithful. It is tantamount to being sacrilegious and disrespectful. In a society that is supposedly multiethnic, multicultural and multi-religious, these demolitions are totally unacceptable and could endanger our precious unity and harmony.
In the wake of the controversial Moorthy case and others, such demolitions could also reinforce the feeling among members of cultural minorities that their democratic and religious space is slowly and unjustly being squeezed.
Worse, unscrupulous politicians from both sides of the religious divide may try to capitalise on tense situations such as these for their own selfish, political ends – at the expense of national interest.
We therefore call upon the authorities to engage in a sober and civilised dialogue with the affected parties to prevent the situation from worsening. We also call upon religious leaders of various theological backgrounds to appeal for calm and for a peaceful resolution of such disputes among the parties concerned.
Let not such religious intolerance as demonstrated by the DBKL scuttle the professed efforts by our political leaders to make Malaysia known as a Muslim-majority country that is tolerant and moderate in its religious practices. Let us instead be a nation where the adherents of other faiths feel safe to practise their traditions as a matter of right.
Dr Mustafa Kamal Anuar
26 May 2006