KINIGUIDE | Salak South temple 'conflict' explained

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KINIGUIDE | Salak South temple 'conflict' explained
KINIGUIDE | Salak South temple 'conflict' explained

KINIGUIDE | On Sept 28, several video clips made rounds on social media ostensibly depicting a group of angry people at a temple facing off against some police in riot gear and a backhoe.

The incident attracted public attention and eventually led to 24 arrests.

No single authority had offered a coherent explanation for what happened and that could be because it involved several interested parties.

This instalment of KiniGuide will attempt to clear up the confusion.

Was any temple demolished?

No. The temple in question - Chee How Temple in Salak South, Kuala Lumpur - was untouched.

Why did the authorities show up with a backhoe?

The authorities wanted to seize a narrow strip of land separating the Chee How Temple and SJKC Tai Thung to the south.

Why are the authorities seizing the land?

The land belongs to the federal government. It is needed to access a plot of land west of the Chee How Temple where a new secondary school will be built.

However, Chee How temple had fenced off the land for their own use for years because it was vacant.

Why was there a commotion involving the police on Sept 28?

A group of men and women, believed to be supporters of the temple, confronted the police, thinking the officers would encroach on temple grounds.

The incident was live-streamed by lion dance troupe members associated with the temple. That video has since been removed.

Speaking to Malaysiakini, Chan Quin Er, the temple's legal advisor, cited the "aggressiveness" of the authorities and the overreaction on the part of the temple supporters for the confrontation.

"Actually this should be something that could be handled in a harmonious way. But because of miscommunication and misunderstanding, the conflict has regrettably occurred," she said.

Chan added that the temple will continue to negotiate with the authorities to reach a win-win solution.

So far, the police have arrested 24 individuals for "rioting".

The temple had also apologised and confirmed it will relinquish its claim over the land.

How is SJKC Tai Thung involved in the affair?

SJKC Tai Thung's main entrance is located where a new secondary school will be built.

Now that the site for the new school has been surrounded by construction hoarding, teaching staff and students have to use a smaller rear entrance.

The school board's chairperson Lim Teong Kwee told Malaysiakini that the school had sought help from three deputy education ministers since the time Najib Abdul Razak was prime minister.

The school's aim was to convince the government to allow them to continue using their old main entrance.

"The matter has been dragging on until May 6 this year, when the land office suddenly wrote a letter, requiring us to vacate the land within 14 days," Lim said.

He added that the government should not seal off their main entrance until the matter is resolved or the safety of teachers and students will be compromised.

Currently, teachers and students have to use an emergency exit to enter the school, which Lim said cannot be a long-term solution.

Why is SJKC Tai Thung using government land as an entrance?

The school has been lobbying the government for ownership of the land since the late 1990s. The school entrance has been there since.

The fight for land ownership came to a rest in 2015, when the Education Ministry and the Federal Territories Land and Mines Office allowed SJKC Tai Thung to occupy 2.607 acres of government reserve land for free (Marked as #6 on the map).

Malaysiakini has sighted the written agreement between the school and the Federal Territories Land and Mines Office in 2015, which stated that the school must surrender the land without compensation when the government needs it back.

So far, SJKC Tai Thung had spent RM700,000 to convert the once barren land into a carpark, the main entrance, and a basketball court.

However, in 2017, the government revoked the agreement and claimed the land back to build a new school.

Since then, SJKC Tai Thung has embarked on a campaign to convince the government to allow them to continue occupying the land.

Why can't the government build the new secondary school elsewhere?

According to Deputy Education Minister Dr Mah Hang Soon, the Education Ministry was convinced that the land next to SJKC Tai Thung and Chee How temple was the most strategic location for a new secondary school.

It will serve 7,000 units of low-cost flats in the vicinity, he said.

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