“Why must the temple be moved out when the laws allow it to remain where it is? Cowardice, among all parties concerned, is the only word to describe the situation which has arisen.”
Waythamoorthy was commenting on the Selangor government's announcement yesterday that another site had been found in Section 23 for the temple, after vehement objections by some residents to the location first proposed.
“The government should not create unnecessary precedents since the axe in such cases can cut both ways,” said Waythamoorthy, a lawyer before he took up activism.
“The heritage laws must be respected and not cast aside when it doesn't suit someone's politics. If we allow such things to happen, it can come back one day to hit us all again in other ways.”
Backing his claim that the temple has national heritage status, he said that it is over a century old.
“The proper way to date the temple for national heritage purposes would be to dig up the (statues of the) first deities. They would have been buried, in keeping with custom, under the present ones with some items like coins bearing a date. This is for later identification purposes.”
'Get Unesco's help'
Waythamoorthy said he cannot accept that some people have more rights than others since the creation of such a situation, going by the laws and the federal constitution, would be treading on dangerous and uncharted waters.
He cited the example of Malay NGO Majlis Permuafakatan Ummah (Pewaris), which took it upon itself to erect a zinc fence in January across part of the land on which the temple is situated, to "create space" for residents' activities.
Waythamoorthy also said he has great misgivings about the role of the Malaysian Hindu Sangam and the Malaysian Indian Congress, in particular, in their response to the Section 19 temple issue.
“(But) it's not our policy to hit out at other Indian-based organisations. They have not hesitated to fall all over themselves to keep sniping at us, as they compete to please the government,” he said.
“They should re-appraise their roles instead. The people are watching them. They are not here to please the government but to fulfill their mandate. They have failed to do this.”
“This is a process in itself. Only in the case of the Azwan Dam in Egypt were priceless relics and the pyramids relocated. This is because the area was being flooded for the dam. In the case of Section 19, it is not being flooded or anything like that.”