Johor's Sultan Ibrahim steps in to resolve controversy linked to temple's demolition

Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar (fourth from left) with Johor Unity and Human Resources committee chairman R. Vidyananthan (third from left), temple representatives and other local leaders during a meeting at the palace, on Jan 21, 2018. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Johor ruler has stepped in to resolve a controversy caused by the demolition of a 80-year-old Hindu temple located on private land said to be owned by a Singaporean in Masai district.

Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar on Sunday (Jan 21) met with several representatives of the Dewa Shree Sivasakthi Shree Sinnakaruppar Devotees Association at his palace, Istana Bukit Pelangi.

During the 30-minute meeting, he said that he would personally ensure that a new site would be made available by the state government for the rebuilding of the temple.

The temple in Masai, located to the east of capital city Johor Baru, had encroached into the private land and the landlord had obtained a court order to take it down.

After talks with temple leaders failed, authorities moved in to demolish the illegal structure on Jan 11.

Sultan Ibrahim urged parties involved in the matter to ensure it is resolved amicably, adding that there was no need to blow it out of proportion.

Also present at the meeting was Johor's Unity and Human Resources committee chairman R. Vidyananthan.

Mr Vidyanathan, when contacted, said Johor state has agreed to allocate 0.4ha for the new site, which is about 1.5km from the old site.

He said the state government including Johor Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin was committed in ensuring the issue was resolved amicably.

"I hope everyone will calm down and not speculate on the matter as we have done everything possible to resolve this issue," he added.

There had been claims and counterclaims in the media and in social media in the past week about who was to blame for the temple's demolition, and whether the state government had agreed to provide an alternative land for a new temple to be built.

Datuk Seri Khaled had earlier urged all parties to stop speculating and spreading inaccurate facts over the temple demolition.

He said the state government regretted the incident and sympathised with those affected.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.