The Selangor Government’s use of force to demolish the Sri Maha Mariaman temple, a surau and 200 houses cannot be justified by any standards in a civilized democratic country. By deploying more than 300 police and enforcement personnel armed with automatic rifles to accompany the workers from the Shah Alam City Hall, it is clear the authorities were prepared to use deadly force to accomplish their mission, the demolition of a 100 year old temple.
As it turned out scores of residents and devotees were injured and about 15 people were detained by the police. Among the injured was a16 year old boy and a 52 year old woman. It appears excessive force may have been used. It was fortunate that no one was shot as had happened in Batu Burok.
All civil governments that practice democratic principles have guidelines and standards for the use of force. The guidelines provide that police and enforcement agencies are only permitted to use such reasonable and necessary force to protect themselves from bodily harm or to preserve life or liberty. There is absolutely no cause for bringing 300 police personnel armed with automatic rifles to effect the demolition of a place of worship.
There is also no justification for the urgent demolition of the temple, surau and houses after all they had been there for 100 years. There is no good reason for not allowing the devotees sufficient time to remove their deities and properties.
In ancient times conquering armies meted out abusive treatment to cultivate an atmosphere of terror to subjugate and control the conquered nations. A blatant unrestrained use of force by any regime is perceived by its people that the regime has developed a sense of authority that they tolerate no dissent and believe they are above the law. The Selangor Government must be sensitive that the people do not end up with a perception that the Government is insensitive to its own people. The fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Constitution for the right of every citizen to practice their religion under Article 11, the rights to property under Article 13 and the right to life under Article 5 must be respected by the Selangor Government.
We, Parti Keadilan Rakyat, call on the Selangor Government to stop this demolition of temples and instead work with the people by providing them with suitable sites to build their place of worship and to practice their religion in peace.
1 November 2007
William Leong Jee Keen
Parti Keadilan Rakyat