Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ashram trustees’ spurning of gov’t offer draws ire

3:28PM Mar 21, 2015

By Terence Netto

Ashram trustees’ spurning of gov’t offer draws ire

The decision of the trustees of the Vivekananda Ashram in Brickfields to reject the government’s proposal to designate the premises as a national heritage site was described by a DAP lawmaker as “painful and shocking.”

The rejection means a multi-storey condominium, slated to come up at the site once approval for the ashram’s redevelopment is obtained, will go ahead.

DAP national vice-chair M Kulaasegaran said the trustees’ rejection of the government’s proposal to preserve the site as historically resonant ignores the wishes of the Indian community long domiciled in the area.

“The community had made known its desire to preserve the ashram through public protests and a signature campaign,” said the MP for Ipoh Barat.

Kulasegaran (left) also noted that Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Aziz visited the site in November last year and after that announced in Parliament that a notice would be issued to the trustees to agree voluntarily for the ashram to be preserved as a national heritage site.

He said the trustees’ decision to reject the government’s offer must be hugely dismaying to the Indian community resident in Brickfields area as Swami Vivekananda, who visited the country in 1904, was a renowned religious figure for his contributions to inter-religious dialogue.

The ashram was erected in 1908 in the swami’s memory.

Kulasegaran aired the speculation that mercantile motives may have factored in the decision of the trustees to reject the government’s proposal to preserve the site.

“If so, who stands to benefit from the site’s redevelopment?” he queried.

He said he will raise the issue in Parliament and will enlist the aid of minister Nazri in finding a satisfactory resolution of the issue.

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