“People don’t come to temples to see the person who has built the temple, but rather to pray to God, and temple leaders should bear that in mind,” he said during the inaugural congress for Hindu temple associations from all over Selangor yesterday.
Xavier was addressing over 1,000 leaders and representatives from temples all over Selangor in a first-of-its-kind congress that was meant to address and engage temple leaders on issues that plague Hindu temples in the state.
Xavier was referring to the mushrooming of unregistered temples, also stressing on the necessity of proper paperwork before building temples.
“If a temple is unregistered and was built on a land that was not gazetted exclusively for the temple, then we have to implement the law and take measures to demolish the temple,” he warned.
“There is not enough land in Selangor. We also need to allocate spaces for churches, Gurdwaras, and Chinese temples. So I urge the people to ponder whether a temple is really necessary in a place before proceeding to build it,” he said.
The congress was held in light of controversies surrounding the demolition and relocation of Hindu temples, the erection of small shrines under trees and also the trend of building private ‘family temples’.
Xavier admitted that he does not know the exact count of temples in Malaysia, with a majority of them still believed to be unregistered.
“When I first assumed office in March 2008, I was surprised to know that there were no documents whatsoever on the Hindu temples in Malaysia. Only after I sent the registration forms to temples around Selangor and over 500 of them have registered so far,” he explained.
“All the temple committees are obliged to explain to the authorities and also to the people who contribute on how they utilize the funds that they get from both parties.”
Xavier’s reminder that temples should be built according to the law was echoed by Malaysia Hindu Sangam deputy president V Kandasamy.
“Temples should have a functioning organization and they should always collaborate closely with the local councils and authorities,” he said.
Kandasamy however stressed that temples should not remain as temples alone.
“Gone are the days when temples are used for prayer purposes alone. Temples serve the role of morally educating the society in its vicinity, so temples should also operate as community centers.”
Kandasamy also announced the introduction of a 1 Hindu 1 Ringgit scheme which is set to be launched by the Malaysia Hindu Sangam later this month.
“This scheme will see each Hindu donating RM1 per month to MHS, which would mean that every individual could contribute RM12 per year. This would amount to roughly RM 1.5 million a year, which will be used to maintain temples and to boost religious programs.”
The attendees were handed a complete manual on how allocations are provided for religious entities within the state law and how Hindu temple leaders can register their temples with the state government.
MHS will be holding a nationwide gathering of temple leaders scheduled for December 18 this year, and Xavier had announced on the stage that the Selangor government is ready to sponsor the event for MHS.
The congress was also attended by fellow Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu, Kota Alam Shah assemblyperson M Manoharan and Senator S Ramakrishnan.