Sunday, April 5, 2015

“Tell the truth boldly, whether it hurts or not. Never pander to weakness. If truth is too much for intelligent people and sweeps them away, let them go; the sooner the better.” – Swami Vivekananda



Press Statement by M. Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat at Vivekananda Ashram, Brickfields KL on 5th April 2015
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“Tell the truth boldly, whether it hurts or not. Never pander to weakness. If truth is too much for  intelligent people and sweeps them away, let them go; the sooner the better.” – Swami Vivekananda

Numerous open protests and signature campaigns have been carried out by concerned citizens to show their objections to the proposed redevelopment of the Ashram and the surrounding area. The Vivekananda 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 Vivekananda the icon.

This proposed redevelopment will change the character of the Brickfields forever and will erase the Ashram an icon sitting in this area permanently.  This must not be allowed to happen. 

After I had raised the issue of heritage status for the Ashram in Parliament late last year, the Heritage Department has as promised, issued a notice on January 14 to designate the Ashram as a heritage site under Section 27(2) of the National Heritage Act.

All good minded and caring people thought for sure the Board of trustees of the Ashram would agree to accept the Departments’ proposal.  Yet what happened was most shocking. The Board rejected the government’s proposal and as a result, the government cannot automatically gazette the old building a heritage site.

The stand taken by the trustees is most shocking, objectionable and unjustifiable. 

The Ashram is not the only site where places of heritage are in danger of redevelopment. Many other places in the country if left unchecked in the name of “modernization” will erase our cultural and heritage links by the overriding and powerful interest of the commercial people.

It is obvious and sad that the trustees of the Ashram have lost touch with the needs of the people. They should just leave. Let it be managed by people who have the heart and soul to manage the Ashram in the interest of the people.

We should  all remember the great words of Vivekananda on truth.

 He said “Tell the truth boldly, whether it hurts or not. Never pander to weakness. If truth is too much for intelligent people and sweeps them away, let them go; the sooner the better.”

 So let us tell the Trustees the so called “intelligent people” the truth and demand they leave the sooner the better.

Last Thursday I had the privilege to meet and discuss the issue of heritage status with the Minister in charge of Heritage status in Parliament, namely Datuk Nazri. He has promised to do what is best for the community and the people of Brickfields, that is, to bestow heritage status to the Vivekananda Ashram.

I had earlier submitted a parliamentary question to the Minister enquiring on the latest situation of the Ashram. The Minister has agreed to make an announcement in Parliament on the issue this coming Tuesday. I am sure the Minster will stand by the people and announce a far reaching and a ‘” win win formula” on this issue.



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