DAP Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, today issued the following statement:
Call on Kumpulan Guthrie Sendirian Berhad not to interfere with freedom of worship of Malaysians and to stop its attempt to take over the Kovil Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, at Bukit nanas Estate, Negri Sembilan
I have received representations from the workers of the formerly Guthrie-owned Bukit Nanas Estate, Negri Sembilan, that the Kumpulan Guthrie Sendirian Berhad is trying to evict the management committee of the Kovil Sri Maha Matiamman Temple at Rasah Road, Seremban by the appointment of a now committee, nominated by the Kumpulan Guthrie and the Chemara Research Station management.
The Sri Maha Mariamman temple, one of the oldest and biggest Hindu temple in Negri Sembilan, was built by the efforts of the estate workers of Bukit Nanas Estate some 70 years ago, and have a long been managed by the workers themselves. Only a few years ago, the workers raised over $30,000 to renovate the temple.
About three years ago, the Bukit Nanas Estate was sub-divided and sold by Guthrie Group Sdn. Bhd. The workers at Bukit Nanas raised money to buy the labourers’ quarters, and are still staying there, and have continued to manage and run the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple.
The present attempt on the part of the Kumpulan Guthrie to evict the management committee of the temple and the appointment of a new one has caused great unhappiness and resentment among the workers who have bought their own land and settled at the Bukit Nanas estate.
Although the land belonged to the Kumpulan Guthrie Sdn. Bhd., the temple belongs to the workers and the management committee, and the workers should be allowed freedom of worship without any form of interference whatsoever.
Last year, when the Minister of Labour and Manpower, Tan Sri Manickavasagam, went to the Bukit Nanas estate to chair a meeting between the management committee of the Temple and the Kumpulan Guthrie Sdn. Bhd. representatives, Tan Sri Manickavasagam ruled that the temple should be run and managed by the workers of Bukit Nanas Estate who have settled there, while Guthrie acted as trustee.
Unfortunately, the Minister’s ruling has not been upheld, and attempts on the part of the estate workers for the Minister’s help have been fruitless.
I call on the Minister of Labour, Tan Sri Manickavasagam, to immediately intervene again in this case and get the Guthrie Kumpulan to respect the freedom of worship of the Bukit Nanas estate workers who have settled there, in conformity with his ruling. The Kumpulan Guthrie should restrain form interfering in the freedom of worship of Malaysians, for it is highly objectionable that a foreign company should not only be dominating the economy of Malaysia, but dictating the manner in which worship and religion is to be conducted.