Panel tries to rope in Buddhist groups

By LEE YUK PENG, The Star, June 14, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- A committee seeking the reopening of a Kajang monastery has asked the Malay­sian Buddhist Association and Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia to help resolve problems which caused the place being closed to devotees for the past four years.

These organisations should help safeguard the interest of the faith and its followers, the committee said in a Saturday posting on its website.

“What is the basis of the current committee to prevent any person from entering the monastery?” asked the committee, which has been petitioning for the reopening of the monastery that was built on public donations.

The petition committee claimed that the monastery, known as a meditation centre, was now open only to its 33 registered members consisting of five monks, 12 former volunteers and 16 people “who had never appeared in person” during the early process of setting up the centre.

“Did they even contribute 1% out of the total effort in the establishment of the monastery?” they asked.

The petition committee also alleged that the monastery had sought public donations from 2000 to 2006, adding that it owned assets estimated at RM10.8mil.

“Shouldn’t its doors be opened to benefit people and to operate for the interests of the public?” the committee asked.

Last Wednesday, The Star reported that the meditation centre, built in 2001, was led by a monk which had a huge following.

But it has been closed to the public since October 2006. The monk, who had many supporters, especially university students who admired his community work, left the meditation centre in 2006 due to internal conflicts with other monks.

It is learnt that the monks currently residing there had decided to close the place to the public, saying that the by-laws of the centre had stipulated that it was only meant for members.

The petition committee, formed in July 2008, has approached the police, the Registrar of Societies (ROS) and the Immigration Depart­ment to intervene in the matter.

It is learnt that Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein referred the matter to the ROS on Oct 1 last year.

Registrar Datuk Md Alias Kalil had said that the ROS would investigate whether the centre complied with the by-laws but it would not intervene in religious matters.

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