Local Councils must be accountable for their decisions
The Malaysian nature society must be commended for monitoring and protecting the dark caves and lime stone structures within the Batu Caves. In 2007, the federal government had declared the 272ha Batu Caves Reserve as national heritage site, affirming the status of Batu Caves as a unique site of national interest. Yet the Selayang municipal council on 26 Sept 2007 approved the Dolomite Park Avenue condominium project close the Batu caves. The company through its website www.iproperty.com.my has been selling and promoting this condominium project.
In 26/1/2010 the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) express their alarm at proposed plans to convert part of Batu Caves for a high-density housing development.
This incident also highlights the level of unaccountability and non transparencies in local councils. Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim menteri besar of Selangor was telling that local councils need to be reformed. 50 years of BN rule has made local councils a lord unto themselves without any accountability and transparency. To undo this insulation from public consultation is not easy. UMNO has lost the moral authority and leadership to reform them. There must be change of government to initiate reforms and accountability of local councils to rate payers.
Through the effort of MNS, this matter has come to the open. Temple committee should work with MNS and save Batu caves and not play politics using BN against PR. The beauty of Batu Caves is its caves and hill structure. This project was approved in 2007 without any environmental impact study. The caves house many varieties of flora and fauna which are unique and inimitable. Therefore a relook and reevaluation of this project is a must.
In 1930, the Batu Caves Hill was reserved as a site for public recreation (Federated Malay States Government Gazette Notification (G.N.) No. 4712-30, part-revoked by G.N. 652-54; and the Selangor State Government Gazette G.N. 312-59), while in 1980 the state government agreed to stop quarrying at Batu Caves and protect the remaining hills and caves.
Mahamariaman temple committee should make use of this public outcry and sentiment to save the temple, caves and limestone hill structures. Every crisis will provide an opportunity. Temple must make use of the current uproar and safeguard the hills and temple. Never follow MIC leaders for they are incapable of anything.