Tuesday 13 November 2012

Promise to cancel Batu Caves project is political bribery, says Pakatan

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 ― Selangor Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers said today it was “political bribery” for Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s to promise cancelling the controversial Batu Caves condominium project if Barisan Nasional (BN) recaptures Selangor, and accused the prime minister of abusing an emotive issue to woo Indian support.

“It is bribery... very unbecoming of the Prime Minister, I think,” Selangor state executive councillor Xavier Jayakumar told The Malaysian Insider.

At the MIC’s national Deepavali open house at Batu Caves this morning, Najib promised to cancel the controversial luxury condominium being built near the venue but provided that the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition wins back Selangor from PR.

Jayakumar pointed out that despite holding state power, the Selangor PR government had not seen it fit to turn the issue into a political one, and chose instead to resolve it via consultation and discussion with the relevant parties.

He said it was unfair issue such ultimatums on voters, particularly since the issue was clearly a sensitive one to the Indian community.

“We in the Selangor government do not say ― if the Indians vote for us, we will definitely cancel the project.

“What we have done is, we have issued a stop work order and our task force is now workin on looking at different angles to solve this. In the end, we will ensure that it is resolved amicably,” Jayakumar said.

DAP’s Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo agreed with his party colleague and accused Najib of threatening the Selangor Indian community with his promise.

He said Najib’s words were similar to his “you help me, I help you” promise to Sibu voters during the 2010 by-election, which had earned the prime minister widespread criticism.

“Najib should make an effort to resolve the issue, not issue a conditional promise,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Selangor has ordered a temporary halt to the construction of the 29-storey condominium near Batu Caves pending the findings of an independent state-level task force to be set up soon, Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said on Octber 30.

He, however, offered the state’s assurance that the matter would be resolved as soon as possible, admitting that the stop-work order would cost the developers financial losses.

The 29-storey Dolomite Park Avenue condominium project has turned into a political crisis as Batu Caves is the religious focal point of Hindu Indians, who form the majority of the 1.7 million Indians and are a key voting group in many urban seats in Selangor.

About 300 Hindu and non-governmental activists joined a “Save Batu Caves” rally in the Batu Caves temple complex to protest against the condominium construction on October 26, saying it was an environmental risk that would jeopardise the temple grounds but did not furnish proof to substantiate their allegations.

The project was given the nod by state authorities in 2007, but MIC and Barisan Nasional (BN) have in recent weeks pressured the current Pakatan Rakyat (PR) administration into calling a halt to the project amid a battle for Indian votes.


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