GEORGE TOWN, July 13 — Several community leaders expressed concern over the recent spate of vandalism at Hindu temples in the state.
In the past two months, four temples have been vandalised, with two incidents in Penanti on the mainland and another two in Bayan Lepas and in Jalan Tengku Kudin on the island.
Penang Hindu Dharma Mamandram chairman Nanda Kumar said: “The various temple management teams must improve and equip themselves to be alert on matters affecting the temples.”
“Many temples lack security as they are in isolated places. Temple leaders must also take notice of current affairs.
“Temple committees should concentrate on the matters at hand to resolve outstanding issues and matters affecting them,” he said.
He also called for emphasis on religious education for the younger generation as it would teach them to be good and responsible citizens.
Bayan Baru’s Sri Vishwanather Sri Visalatchi Alayam committee member V. Kalimuthu said they were engaging a security guard at the temple.
“With the recent vandalism cases in Penang, we are planning to appoint security guards and also enlist Rela personnel to patrol the premises,” he said.
“We are also putting up lights in the perimeter of the temple to deter anyone from coming inside the temple without permission.
“These security measures can prevent unwanted incidents, such as what we have seen so far,” Kalimuthu said.
He said even closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras could be damaged by vandals.
“CCTV images can sometimes be blurry and if the culprits wear masks, we cannot identify them,” Kalimuthu said.
Consumers Association of Penang education officer N. Subbarow said: “Someone who believes in religion will not do such a thing to a place of worship. It is not proper to vandalise such places.”
He said many temples are in housing areas, adding that residents of the areas must take the responsibility to manage the security and well-being of the temples.
“The residents must be on the alert. They can form teams like the Rukun Tetangga to guard the temples on a rotation basis,” he said.
“Putting up CCTVs can be quite expensive and not many temple committees can afford to install them. Depending only on police is not feasible as they also need to monitor other places and carry out crime prevention.”
Subbarow also called on the community at large to be the eyes and ears against crime.
He also advised temple authorities not to place jewellery in their premises, which could encourage crime.
Penang Hindu Association deputy president P. Murugiah said Hindu temples are lacking in security as many of them are located in deserted areas, especially at night.
He said petty crimes at temples could be the work of jobless people.
“But in this case, it might be something to do with religion. The various Hindu organisations and the Hindu Endowment Boards should meet and discuss ways to provide security for temples in the state,” Murugiah said.
He cited examples of mosques and churches that were used as community centres where religious and moral classes were conducted and called for a review on the role of Hindu temples as learning centres for children and adults.
“Having many people moving in and out of the temples would also serve as a security measure,” Murugiah said.