Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Vivekananda Ashram must be preserved at all cost

Press Statement by M. Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat in Kuala Lumpur on 18th November 2014

Vivekananda Ashram must be preserved at all cost

I wish to welcome and commend Culture and Tourism Minister Datuk Nazri‘s announcement in Parliament yesterday his ministry’s decision to declare Vivekananda Ashram as a heritage site. 

I salute the boldness and far sightedness of the Minister and applaud his saying that heritage is color blind and Vivekananda Ashram is a national legacy.

His move will not only prevent the nation’s treasure from being demolished or destroyed due to any development or redevelopment, it will also permanently preserve what ought to be preserved. 

In making the announcement yesterday, Nazri also revealed that on 12 Th November, his ministry has sent out notices to the trustees and the Federal Territories Minister of the intent to declare and gazette the Ashram a national heritage. He further said that the due process to gazette the Ashram as national heritage within a year and if there are no objections by the Ashram trustees, it can be completed by March 2015.

Though the process of making the site as a heritage site will take time, we are hopeful and believe that the right and bold move by Datuk Nazri will come to fruition.

On 6th November 2014 in Parliament after a policy debate on heritage buildings, I had further discussed the issue with Datuk Nazri and he agreed to do a ground study to consider declaring the Vivekananda Ashram as a national heritage. 

When he and the relevant heritage department subsequently visited the Vivekananda Ashram, all agreed that the place has to be preserved to protect the purpose for which the land was alienated in 1904. The land was given apparently specifically for the construction of the Ashram. 

At the site visit, I conveyed to the Minister that government quarters adjacent to the Vivekananda Asharam (next to Rozzaro Road) need to be preserved so as to maintain the actual historical surrounding of the area as well as to enhance the true historical situation of Little India at Brickfields. 

Nazri agreed and promised to take the necessary steps to get back the land from the commercial developers and enlist it as a national heritage site

I welcome the agreement by the Minister to declare the status of the Ashram to be upgraded from the present grade two to grade one. It's also hoped the Federal Territories Minister will give the necessary green light and support to speed up the process to declare the Ashram as national heritage site.

The Trustees of the Vivekananda Ashram are said to be keen to develop the area into a commercial area so that the monies capatilized could be used to financially strengthen the cash strapped partially aided Tamil school known as Vivekananda school. 

I will not dispute that the school and more so the students need financial assistance. But to develop our Ashram is a no deal. If the school and other activities of the ashram need financial assistance, I urge the Trustees of Ashram to disclose what expenses they have difficulties to meet.

I believe that the government and the well wishers alike can chip in to help. Let's have a "win win" position for all.
The noble morality of Vivekananda and his vision must be preserved and maintained at all cost.

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