KL CHRONICLE: After being attacked mercilessly, Chettiars strike back at Penang Hindu Endowment Board

Monday, January 16, 2017

After being attacked mercilessly, Chettiars strike back at Penang Hindu Endowment Board

The Penang Chettiars who run the famous 126-year-old silver Thaipusam chariot procession are not amused over allegations hurled at them by the state’s Hindu body.

This was after the Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) alleged the Chettiars carted away local Thaipusam donations back to India, among others.

Nattukottai Chettiar temple managing trustee M Renganathan said the allegations by the Penang Hindu Endowments Board was “without an iota of proof”.

“Despite our tireless rebuttal after rebuttal, there appears to be no respite to the attacks we have received.

“We would like to say this again, there is no truth to the allegations put forth by the PHEB,” he told FMT.

Renganathan said all the trustees’ accounts have been vetted by the Auditor-General’s Department and the Prime Minister’s Department.

He also denied claims that money was sent overseas.

Last week, PHEB chairman P Ramasamy wanted the authorities to deport the foreigners in the Nattukottai Chettiar temple board of trustees.

Ramasamy alleged the Chettiars running the silver chariot procession had “amassed billions over the past 100 years” and sent donations collected during chariot processions back to India.

He had also asked the Chettiar trustees to show accounts of the donations, if they had nothing to hide.

Ramasamy also said he had nothing against the silver chariot and would proceed to run the Hilltop Murugan Temple’s golden chariot procession as planned. The Hilltop temple is run by the PHEB.

He also said the temple never had an official chariot procession and would only serve to correct a “historical injustice” over the years.

In response to Ramasamy’s remarks, Renganathan said it is likely the PHEB wants the donations received during the silver chariot procession.

“The bottom line is, they want to collect money. We have said many times that all the funds were accounted for as shown in our books,” Renganathan said.

Renganathan said the Chettiars have helped Penang ever since it was founded as a trading port by the British, setting up the first financial system in the state.

He added that a large tract of Chettiar-owned land was leased to the PHEB to be used as burial grounds.

“If our ancestors wanted to rob money, why are we doing this?

“We are just businessmen who are benevolent. We have built temples. We have given out scholarships. If they feel we have done wrong, they should have reported us to the authorities long ago.

“For over 100 years, we have been doing this for Lord Muruga (Hindu deity). This is not a parade. We have not chased away devotees coming to pray at our chariot every year,” Renganathan said.

He also said calls to have foreigners removed from the trustees board was a “ridiculous suggestion”.

“If that is the case, the same principle should be applied on foreign-owned businesses, or foreigners working in companies. It is a global village.

“If it was run by foreigners, they would have taken action against us a long time ago, right?”

1 comment:

Malaysian Indian said...

Greetings to all! I am not in the habit of writing to the press on issues that I disagree, but this one has crossed that line. I am not into politics and I haven’t voted for the opposition yet, so no one should rush and accuse me of any political expediency. Now, I have been a regular worshipper in temples run by the Chettiyar community and to other temples as well. I am thankful for their administering of the places of worship. They are great devotees who have done a lot for the religion and I have deep respect for them. Now comes this issue of the golden chariot and with it, a hornet’s nest has been disturbed.
Now, when was there no divide and rule – “Caste”, not present?
Are these persons who profuse otherwise really so warped up in their own reality as to not only deny it but denigrate, viciously and personally others who stand up to it? IT has always been there, not seen in the open, but lurking just beneath the surface. The essence of this issue is neither politics nor economics, but one of basic self respect; of certain segments of people who have always been sidelined because of their ‘lower caste’ status. Is Athi Shankar genuinely unaware of the discriminatory practices in the Indian society or precisely, in our temples or more to the point, in the Chettiyar temples? Now, anyone who has been to these temples regularly, know of such discriminatory practices. Can anyone truthfully deny these? Attacking people like Prof. Ramasamy doesn’t serve justice to the issue. The 3 million cost has been mentioned. And yes, it could have been used for other purposes. In the same vein, wouldn’t it be proper to enquire about all the money that would have been collected in all the Thaipusam chariot processions all over our country these past 100 years or so?? Can anyone comprehend the actual amount that would have been collected? Can anyone answer? And can anyone show any records as to where all that money went? And why hasn’t anyone raised this issue before? Is it because of vested interests? Now, I do not know the motive of those who attack Prof. Ramasamy on this issue, but to me and others like me, he is our Deputy Chief Minister, a position where due respect has to be given, – more so when he’s the only Indian DCM in our country. Now, if the incident is true, when you don’t show due respect to our DCM, (irrespective of the political divide), when he visits your temple, then that is deemed an affront to the whole community. Now, while having witnessed many an affront to temple goers and having taken it with a pinch of salt, I do not want to sit back and let this go unanswered. If he isn’t good enough to be given due respect, than who is? NO! Enough is enough! This is 2017! If anyone does not want to leave their age old practices of showing superiority over others just because of their caste, then I say, ” Let them be. But let me and others like me, be too! As for me, I have decided not to step into temples that discriminate based on a person’s birth. There are other temples where all are treated equally.
Now, to all those who look into this from the outside, appreciate if you could get some perspective of the real issues, before jumping onto the bandwagon, jumble up the issue and shooting from the hip.
And finally, is the golden chariot necessary and worth the price? Well, to me and others like me, it certainly is, even if there’s an extra zero there beside the 3.

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