Malaysia: Buddhist folks in Subang cry foul over town planning

By LIM CHIA YING, The Star/Buddhist Channel, January 30, 2008

Subang Jaya, Malaysia -- Representatives from the four Buddhist organisations - the Subang Jaya Buddhist Association, the Fo Guang Malaysia Buddhist Association USJ branch, the Serdang Buddhist Association in Seri Kembangan and the Kinrara Metta Buddhist Society of Puchong - handed over more than 4,000 signatures to the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) with regard to the allocation of land for non-Muslim places of worship.

Subang Jaya, a bustling township of 250,000 residents, is situated about 20 km north of Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital.

Group spokesman Loka Ng said that according to the manual guidelines for state planning published by the Selangor Urban and Rural Planning Department in June 2006, provision for places of worship for non-Muslims was one place of worship for every 2,600 devotees or 5,000 residents.

“However, based on the draft local plan, there is no land allocation for the building of Buddhist temples in all areas of planning except for the Small Planning Block 3.4 Puchong where only one temple is being allocated,” Ng said.

Subang Jaya Buddhist Association (SJBA) president Chim Siew Choon said he hoped the authorities would seriously consider their objection and take the welfare of the Buddhist community that made up 42.6% of the population in the Subang area.

“There will be urbanization, and more people are expected to stay here within the next few years. Also, our contention is that the Selangor Urban and Rural Planning Depart-ment has allocated for the temple in Puchong to be 1.2 acres, but in the draft plan, the allocation is only for 0.41 acres,” Chim said.

“We urged the MPSJ to adhere to the Federal Government guidelines in relation to this and we are prepared to attend the committee public hearing later on,” he said.

The Buddhist organisations also submitted their proposal to reserve a piece of land or allocation for the purpose of a crematorium.

Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) deputy president Mohamad Yusoff Ghazali received the submission made during the weekly council's meet-the-people session last Friday.

Residents Committee (JKP) Zone 1 deputy chairman Theresa Ratnam Thong said she hoped the objections submitted by the residents would be considered.

“We have also proposed that once this draft is gazetted, the local council should have a tri-sector dialogue with us so that we could also review the plan's progress,” she said.

“This way it would say much about the responsibility and accountability in implementing the local plan,” Thong said.