Thursday 15 November 2012

Batu Caves condo: A Pandora's box of deception

  • S Ramakrishnan
  • 3:16PM Nov 15, 2012
COMMENT The announcement by PM Najib Abdul Razak to scrap the 29 storey condominium has turned the condo issue into an open BN vs Pakatan Rakyat row.

By making the announcement, Najib has flexed his muscles to impress the Indian community into believing that he can better serve them than the Pakatan Selangor government.

But he contradicted himself by the transfer of the president of Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) for disclosing the minutes of 2007 meeting which clearly showed that it was BN councillors who approved the project.

If not for the Pakatan government in Selangor state, the PM would not have bothered to come to Batu Caves and called for the project to be scrapped.

Umno leaders were never bothered about Batu Caves before 2008 election.

The authority to issue and cancel the development order of the 29 storey condominium, lies with MPS and the state government, not with prime minister.

Being a premier he must respect the rules and regulations and promote good governance.

Why in the first place did the premier not express his displeasure at those who approved the project and call for action against the guilty parties?

NONELooks like Najib (left) wants to politicise the condo issue to win Indian votes.

Since MIC has become a liability to BN, Najib has to use his authority win the Indian votes.

This project was approved without the environmental impact assessment and no thorough consultation with all the stakeholders.

It is unfortunate that all these deficiencies in the approval process did not bother the PM.

He was only concerned with scrapping the condo project and applying for Unesco heritage listing.

He should have expressed his concern over the approval and need for good governance.

He failed to use the condo project to highlight the larger issue of corruption and disregard for the sanctity of the temple by the relevant government departments, during the approval process.

Investigation must be initiated

If Najib is really concerned about the temple and Batu Caves issue, he must initiate an investigation into the temple management committee and appoint respectable people to it.

The current committee is self-appointed does not reflect the wishes of the community.

The 1930 court order has to be done away with and let the committee come under a new Hindu endowment board.

protest at batu cave temple 261012 05Batu Caves is a heritage and environment issue. It is a site and legacy that must protected.

Therefore the temple committee must be headed by a respectable public figure who is more transparent and accountable.

The Selangor menteri besar has appointed N Sadasivam to review the whole condo project approval along with all other projects approved in the vicinity of Batu Caves.

This is a timely and a professional approach to a lasting solution.

Najib should emulate the Selangor government's way of handling the Batu Caves condo controversy created by the BN government.

He should not look at Indian community from vote bank perspective but as minorities who have equal rights.

S Ramakrishnan is an senator in the Upper House of Parliament.

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