Below is the article from The Real Singapore speaking about our temple land issue, if you wish to view the article on their website please go to http://therealsingapore.com/content/govt-gives-land-private-company-religious-purposes-rejects-hindu-temples-bid-land
The government would so easily give a parcel of land to a private company with no prior experience managing a religious institution whatsoever but when an actual religious institution was fighting to use a space for 14 years, the government kept repeatedly rejecting their right to use it.
When the Sri Krishna Mandir held their celebration for the Ratha Yatra festival, or the Chariot Festival, in July last year, they had to hold it at the Toa Payoh stadium.
But they have been trying to bid for a site since 2000 to build a temple yet they haven’t been successful.
The reason? Their bid was too low.
“According to our records, Sri Krishna Mandir was not awarded the site in May 2000 as its bid was below the Government’s reserve price for the land,” the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Law Ng Chiu Chin said in 2007.
In 2011, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA)’s Commissioner of Lands also explained that the Sri Krishna Mandir’s tender bid was rejected because it was below the Government’s reserve price for the land.
So, it is not for a lack of trying that Sri Krishna Mandir has not been able to build a temple for itself.
The government didn’t think that their bid was high enough for what the government would let the land go for.
Sri Krishna Mandir, which is also called the Hare Krishna Temple, registered itself as a religious society in 1997.
It currently holds its devotional and outreach activities on two floors in a small building in Geylang, it told The Online Citizen last year.
And since it does not have its own temple, it has been holding the Ratha Yatra at a stadium since 2006.
But even with 15,000 people turning up for it last year, it does not seem that the authorities want to be kind to Sri Krishna Mandir.
Sri Krishna Mandir could also not register themselves with the Hindu Endowment Board (HEB).
“We tried to get ourselves registered with the HEB in 2003. HEB is a statutory board under the then MCDS. But we were informed in writing from MCDS after almost a year of our inquiry that we were not eligible to be registered under the HEB because we were not one of the ‘more established temples’, according to them,” Sri Krishna Mandir was informed.
And because of that, they could not get help obtaining a site for their temple.
The then Ministry of Community Development and Sports (MCDS) had told them in 2004 that “most of the temples registered with the Hindu Endowment Board (HEB) already have premises (temples) permanently sited.”
And since they were not registered not “established”, it does not look like help would come from the government.
This is even after numerous appeals to the government.
On 24 March 2000, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) said that it was “inviting tenders for the purchase of a land parcel at Bedok North Avenue 4 for Hindu temple development.”
Sri Krishna Mandir submitted a bid but was informed on May 17 that they weren’t successful.
This is even so there were only two bids for the land and Sri Krishna Mandir had put in a higher amount.
HDB did not say why at that time.
Sri Krishna Mandir then “made several attempts through the years to seek some clarification beyond the cursory response from HDB”.
They even sought help from were the president of Singapore, SR Nathan; the Deputy Prime Minister and Law Minister, S Jayakumar; and the Member of Parliament for Jalan Besar GRC, Lee Boon Yang.
That was when they were told by the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Law Ng Chiu Chin in 2007 and the SLA’s Commissioner of Lands in 2011 that their bid price was too low.
But the government never revealed what the reserve price they wanted for the site was.
Sri Krishna Mandir even wrote in to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2011 and was referred to SLA with that answer.
Moreover, SLA also said “there are currently sufficient temples in Singapore to cater to the religious, cultural and social needs of the Hindu community.”
It also said that it would consult “community stakeholders” and “continue to monitor the demand from the Hindu population” for such temples.
In 2012, they approached Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam who promised that he would look into the matter but nothing happened.
They also asked Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC, Fatimah Lateef for help as she had helped them with an event before.
However, SLA still said, “Under our policy, state land capable of independent development has to be sold via public tender for fair play and transparency.”
Finally, Sri Krishna Mandir filed a court case against the HDB in July last year to ask the court to review the tender process of May 2000 when the plot of land was first put up for bidding.
However, the court dismissed their case.
And since 2000, “There [have been] no tenders for Hindu Temples since 2000,” Sri Krishna Mandir also told TOC.
However, where now it has been seen that a parcel of land in Sengkang can be easily awarded to a private company – Life Corporation in the guise of Eternal Pure Land – with no experience whatsoever in managing a temple, questions are now being asked of the government’s behaviour.
Why the double standards?
Moreover, Life Corporation only set up the Eternal Pure Land after the tender was opened for the columbarium-cum-Chinese temple at Sengkang.
Yet it won the bid.
HDB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority insisted that Life Corporation is “committed” to managing the temple.
But Fernvale Lea residents, where the columbarium-cum-Chinese temple would be sited next to, have slammed the government for its nonchalance.
Life Corporation had set up Eternal Pure Land for the purpose of the columbarium and has announced its successful bid in relation to it being a columbarium. The mention of the temple was only a passing mention when residents became riled up that they weren’t informed of plans for a columbarium in the marketing brochures for Fernvale Lea.
Moreover, for an Indian temple which has been in existence since 1997, surely its commitment is unquestionable and more trustworthy than a private corporation?
However, why does it seemed that the government would be so readily willing to give a plot of land to a private company for religious purposes just because the private company can offer a higher price but where religious institutions are not able to offer the same high price, they are marginalised?
Indeed, where questions are now being asked if it is unfair for a private company to bid for land reserved for religious users, it does look like such questions are justified.