Fund to buy back Malaysia temple land reaches $664k

Above: Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (in white shirt) speaking with policemen guarding the site of the Sri Maha Mariamman temple yesterday. With him were the Home Ministry's secretary-general Alwi Ibrahim (left) and Selangor police chief Mazlan Mans
Above: Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (in white shirt) speaking with policemen guarding the site of the Sri Maha Mariamman temple yesterday. With him were the Home Ministry's secretary-general Alwi Ibrahim (left) and Selangor police chief Mazlan Mansor (right). PHOTO: BERNAMA
Above: Businessman Vincent Tan has set up a fund to buy the land on which the temple sits.
Above: Businessman Vincent Tan has set up a fund to buy the land on which the temple sits.

SUBANG JAYA (Selangor) • A fund set up by a Malaysian Chinese tycoon to buy the land where a Hindu temple is located - the scene of violent riots last week - has reached RM2 million (S$664,000).

Businessman Vincent Tan, who pledged RM500,000 to kick off the fund, said he was confident that the Philippines-based Ayala Corporation, which ultimately owns the land, would do all it could to help return the land to the temple.

"They are the top corporation in the Philippines and they are good and charitable people. I'm sure they will come to a good decision," said Tan Sri Tan, a well-known businessmen who owns the Berjaya Group of companies.

"They may donate the land altogether to the temple. Even if they can't due to constraints of being a public-listed company, they may give a big discount for us to buy the land back," he said.

The 0.4ha temple land is said to be valued between RM14.37 million and RM15.33 million.

The land owner has secured court approval to relocate the temple elsewhere, but temple devotees have refused to move.

Amid the negotiations that have been going on from 2007, a group of men last week stormed the temple and threatened devotees, sparking riots that caused 20 vehicles to be burnt at the temple site.

Police have arrested 68 people in connection with the riots, and a fireman was seriously injured when he and his team arrived at the temple site to douse some of the burning vehicles.

Said Mr Tan: "We will see what Ayala Corporation decides and, in the meantime, let's all work together to bring the peace back to our great country." He was speaking to reporters after visiting the temple with Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar on Sunday.

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has said the men who entered the temple were hired by the developer's lawyers and paid between RM150 and RM300 each to take control of the area. But developer One City Development, which is owned by Ayala via Malaysian company MCT Berhad, has denied the allegation.

Besides Mr Tan, Mr David Kong, founder of death care service provider Nirvana Asia, and Mr Barry Goh, who previously headed MCT, have also donated RM500,000 each to the fund.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2018, with the headline 'Fund to buy back Malaysia temple land reaches $664k'. Print Edition | Subscribe