Fund to buy back Malaysia temple land reaches RM2 million

The Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Subang Jaya, Selangor.
The Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Subang Jaya, Selangor.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SUBANG JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The fund set up to buy the land where the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple is located - the scene of violent riots last week - has reached RM2 million (S$655,000).

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.

"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.

Asked how much would be needed to buy back the land, he said a valuation had not been carried out yet.

"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 told reporters after visiting the temple with Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar on Sunday (Dec 2).

Thanking Tan Sri Tan for his contribution in figuring out a solution, Dr Xavier said it was a good idea as the Selangor government had no power to take back the land as there was a court agreement in place that both parties had signed.

 
 
 

All parties, including the state and federal governments, were working closely to find an amicable solution, he added.

Last week, a group of men had stormed into the temple. Scuffles between the group and devotees over the temple's relocation later led to riots.

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin later said that the men had been hired by the developer's lawyers and paid between RM150 and RM300 to take control of the area.

The developer One City Development, which is owned by Ayala Corporation via Malaysian company MCT Bhd, has denied the allegation.

Several people were injured in the incident, including fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, who was admitted to the National Heart Institute with critical chest wounds.

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

Mr  Tan, along with prominent businessman David Kong, founder and executive chairman of death care service provider Nirvana Asia, and Tan Sri Barry Goh, who previously headed MCT Bhd, have each donated RM500,000 to the fund.