“It is a venerable building and gives character and resonance to an area where there are several places of worship,” said the head of the Catholic Church in the Malacca-Johor diocese.
“If the ashram is redeveloped, it will be a loss not only to Hindus but also to the reverential character of the whole vicinity wherein Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian places are located cheek by jowl,” opined the Jesuit-trained prelate.
“The close proximity of places of reverence of the different religions in the Brickfields area is a wonderful testimony to our country’s multi-religious character and should be preserved, especially in these times of foreboding and concern that we are losing our relish for precisely these features that make us a unique nation,” elaborated the bishop (left).
On Monday, Parliament was informed that the landowners of Swami Vivekananda Ashram have refused to allow the Culture and Tourism Ministry gazette the area as a heritage site.
The landowners want to build a 23-storey apartment block with an eight-storey car park on the site where the ashram sits.
The owners want to redevelop the site to generate income for the several communitarian and charitable causes they support.
The move has drawn protests from the public.
DAP MP for Ipoh Barat M Kulasegaran has urged Kuala Lumpur City Hall to review the redevelopment plans for the site where the ashram stands.
The ashram was built in 1904 to commemorate the visit of the venerable Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda to Malaya.
Vivekananda was renowned for introducing Hindu philosophy to the West, thereby fostering interfaith consciousness.
“He was ahead of his time at engendering interfaith dialogue and because that effort is so relevant now in our country, we should preserve his memory, preferably in the form we find it today,” commented Bishop Paul Tan. – Malaysiakini