The Temple Land Tender
Sri Krishna Mandir is a religious society registered in 1997 under the Registrar of Societies and Commission of Charities. It is run by fully dedicated local monks who have not drawn a salary till date.
In May 2000, HDB had opened a tender for a temple site at Bedok North Avenue 4 for a Hindu temple. Sri Krishna Mandir was the highest bidder at $1 million dollars. They immediately withdrew the tender for reasons best known to them. We then asked them if the offered price was too low. They replied that the offered price was not the issue.
After 7 long years, as the land was still lying vacant, we wrote to the then Law Minister Professor Jayakumar. To our surprise, we were given a contradictory written reply. This time the answer was that our offer was too low. When we asked him as to why the two reasons were contradictory, there was conveniently no answer.
Again in the year 2011, following the General Elections, we have written with great hope, to the Prime Minister followed by an appeal to Mr. Shanmugam by post. We were turned down. The reason was that the offered price was too low and at that point of time, there were no plans of giving it to us as there were enough Hindu temples in Singapore. The government has formulated its own answer and there was no dialogue with us to justify their viewpoint.
Let us answer the issue of price here. Tabulated below is a list of a few Hindu temples and the price that they paid for their land.
Our Unsuccessful Bid
As is evident from the figures above, our offer of $ 1,001,008.00 in the year 2000 was unmatched at that time.
Now, let us come to the point where the government says that there are too many Hindu temples in Singapore. What is the basis for such a statement? There has been a tremendous rise in population characterized by jam-packed MRT stations and trains, buses and clogged highways.
The government has undertaken huge expansion projects. They are widening the highways, exits and other roads. They have started new residential complexes, new MRT lines, new buses. Then why not a new temple?
Earlier this year, on April 4, there seemed to be a ray of hope. Minister of Finance Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam had commented at the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum held at the National University of Singapore that the government has to change from its unidirectional communication and start listening to its citizens.
We immediately wrote to him through email about our problem. We received a prompt reply within 24 hours. It was a single-line reply, “Let me ask the authorities to take a good look at your request.” After that, nothing happened till date.
In all the instances mentioned above, the government has not allowed us a voice at all. We were denied our right to purchase the land for reasons conveniently undisclosed and never were we allowed to present our problem.
The result is that the temple site has been lying vacant for the past twelve years to date. Who has benefited by this action of the government? We do not understand the reason for this obstinacy.
In our previous premise, we were benevolently serving about 20,000 people a month with vegetarian food. Now, in our present rented premise in Geylang, we are unable to carry out this activity. In addition to that, with the increase in our congregation, as is indicative by the recently concluded annual Ratha Yatra (Festival of Chariots) in Toa Payoh stadium on the 1st of July this year where we had witnessed an overwhelming crowd of almost 10,000 people, we feel that a permanent premise is very crucial for us in order to further our benevolent activities.
We strongly feel that we have been victims of unfair treatment and we certainly question the government and its relevant authorities on this prejudice.
All we are asking is just one temple and that too in a land which we rightfully tendered, not a new piece of land! Why can’t the government give it to us when we were the highest bidder in the legitimate tender? What is our fault? Why should this opportunity of contributing to the Singaporean society be suppressed?