Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Local Draft Plan doesn't allocate enough space of worship

Wanted — more places of worship
The Star Metro, Tuesday, November 2, 2010

THE Buddhist and Christian communities in Ampang are worried over the lack of space to build temples and churches following the final hearing for the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) draft plan yesterday.

Selangor Buddhist Development Committee (SBDC) secretary Bro.Chua Teck Seong said the Selangor Planning Guidelines and Standards from the Town and Country Planning Department, released in June 2006, stated that for non-Muslims, there should be a place of worship for every 2,600 devotees or 5,000 residents.

“Taking the figures from the 2000 census carried out by the National Statistics Department, there are 160,748 Buddhists in Ampang and therefore there should be 62 temples here,” he said.

He pointed out that there were only three sites in Ampang allocated in the draft plan for non-Muslims’ places of worship.

Another religion-based issue discussed at the hearing was Charis Christian Association spokesman Chok Poi Fong’s request for a Christian crematorium in Ampang.
Making his point: Ee speaking at the hearing as Lee (seated right) looks on.

“The nearest one is in Cheras and there is one in Petaling Jaya and Seremban respectively. Not only is the one in Cheras far away but it often breaks down and has a long wait-list,” Chok said during the hearing, adding that the crematorium could be shared by churches in the area.

State Housing, Building Management and Squatters Committee chairman YB Iskandar Abdul Samad, who chaired the hearing, said there was a discrepancy in the statistics provided by the religious groups who attended the hearing.

“For instance, we have been told at the hearing by SBDC that there are fewer than 10 temples in Ampang, but we know of two registered ones and another 24 which operate in homes and shoplots,” he said.

He said that according to state records, there were 10 Hindu temples, two Gurdwaras and 22 churces in Ampang.

“The state Town and Country Planning Department will have to meet with these groups and figure out these discrepancies,” he said.

Another issue heard was the proposal to allocate land for a Muslim cemetery in Taman Bukit Permai 2 that was met with both objections and support from the residents who turned up.

Pangsapuri Anggerik Joint Management Body (JMB) chairman A. Karim Mohd Esin said there was a critical need for a Muslim cemetery in Ampang.

“We support the gazetting of the land which is just next to our apartment and separated by a ditch.

“However, we would like to suggest that the community hall that will be built in the buffer zone to also have a surau and a funeral parlour,” he said.

Opposing the cemetery plan was resident Julia Long, 48, who said that it was unfair to the residents who had been living there since 2000 to have to put up with a cemetery beside their homes.

“When we bought our houses, the master plan indicated that the land next to our area was a forest reserve. I would prefer it to remain as such,” she said.

She added that bulldozers and excavators had tried to level the forest in 2008 without residents’ knowledge and it was only stopped after the latter appealed to MPAJ.

“A cemetery will mean increase in traffic in the area, she said, adding that she did not want any kind of development taking place at the site.

Another resident, Sara Chan, 44, said she would approve of the building community facilities like playgrounds at the site.

“Our property value will drop if a cemetery is built and I do not think that is right,” Chan added.

Another hot topic at the hearing was the issue of primary vernacular schools.

“We have received objections from five residents of Bukit Indah who do not want SJK (T) Ampang to be relocated to their area.

“We have also received petitions from residents who want part of a land to be used for a national school in Taman Saga to be given to the building of a Tamil vernacular school,” said Iskandar.

Taman Pandan Glades Residents’ Association chairman Terence Ee and Teratai assemblyman YB Jenice Lee voiced their support for the construction of a vernacular Chinese primary school in the open space along Jalan Perdana 6/2 in Pandan Perdana.

“I believe only a portion of the 2.45ha land is needed for such a school. The rest can still remain as an open space,” said Jenice Lee.

Iskandar said that the hearing, the last of four held for the MPAJ draft plan, was very good as residents came armed with facts and relevant arguments.

“All the information, suggestions and objections we have heard will be discussed at the State Planning Committee along with experts in December,” he said.

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