Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Welcome Nazri’s assurance that he will fight to have Vivekananda Ashram preserved



Press Statement by M. Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat in Parliament, Kuala Lumpur on 24th March 2015
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Welcome Nazri’s assurance that he will fight to have Vivekananda Ashram preserved

Last week I issued a statement promising to raise the issue of the ongoing saga of Vivenkanda Ashram in Parliament.

As a follow up on this matter, a number of MPs including YAB Lim Guan Eng, YB Fong Kui Lun (Bukit Bintang- the Ashram is located in this parliamentary constituency), me and others had a discussion with Tourism Minister Datuk Nazri on the Ashram matter.
Nazri expressed shock that the trustees are objecting to declare the Ashram as Heritage.

The issue of the necessity for Heritage status for the Ashram was raised in Parliament late last year. As promised the Heritage Department then, a written notice under section 272(2) of the National Heritage Act was issued on January 14. The notice expired last Thursday.
Just a day before that, the Ashram's Trustees had in the last minute submitted a written objection on the proposed granting of Heritage status to Vivenkanda Ashram.

The Ashram, built over 110 years ago, stands out as a historical icon building in the middle of Little India in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. The Ashram is the single most iconic attracting tourist to this area-the last bastion of a century old culture of the Indian community.

It's most sad and shocking that the Trustees are not with the local community on this issue.

The Vivenkananda Ashram has been earmarked for redevelopment that will see a 23 story residential tower with 264 units and a 8 story car park at the site. All this commercial development is contrary to the peace and tranquility teachings of Vivenkananda the icon.

Datuk Nazri is most accommodative to our suggestion to proceed to declare the Ashram grounds as Heritage. He said in view of the trustees’ open objections, a formal open Hearing of the matter will be conducted soon. He said all parties will be given an opportunity for their views, suggestion and opinions to be heard.

He further said his office is in touch with the Federal Territories Minister's office who has the sole power to hear and decide on the proposed redevelopment go the Ashram grounds. Apparently many local residents have put in objections on the proposed redevelopments plan.

The Ashram is located in one of the most expensive areas of Kuala Lumpur. The proposed condos will cost millions when sold in open market. Who among the locals can afford to purchase it?
With the Vivenkananda school next to this Ashram will the building of condos be conducive to the school going children?
The trustees must publicly state why monies and for what purposes it is so required?

Nazri said that the need to confer Heritage status to the Vivenkananda ashram is over whelming. He said he has met many from local leaders to politicians who all want the Ashram to be preserved. He promised not to let the people down.
I welcome Nazri’s assurance and once again call on the Trustees to abide by the wishes of the people who want Vivekananda Ashram preserved.




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