A fundraising effort started by tycoon Vincent Tan to buy the contentious Seafield temple land has raised RM2 million

Malaysian businessman Tan Sri Vincent Tan kicked off the fund by pledging RM500,000.
The Straits Times

A fund set up to buy the land where the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple sits on has reached RM2 million (US$479,38), The Star has reported.

Read also: Many people were hurt and cars torched during a violent riot at a temple in Malaysia – here’s what happened

The news site reported on Dec 1 that Malaysian businessman Vincent Tan kicked off the fund by pledging RM500,000. The same amount was each pledged by businessman David Kong, as well as by Barry Goh, who previously headed property company MCT until it was taken over by Ayala Land from the Philippines. In total, they raised RM1.5 million.

Tan had reportedly said that he was confident that the Philippines-based Ayala Corpo­ra­tion, which ultimately owns the land, would do all it could to help return the land to the temple.

He was quoted by The Star as saying: “They (Ayala Corpo­ra­tion) may donate the land altogether to the temple. Even if they can’t due to constraints of being a public-listed company, they may give a big discount for us to buy the land back.”

According to New Straits Times, Tan said that he personally knew the chief executive officer of Ayala Corporation and that he was a charitable and respected individual.

“I will hold a meeting with him and I’m confident of persuading him to save the temple site which is over 140 years old,” he was quoted as saying.

When asked how much would be needed to buy back the land, Tan reportedly said a valuation had not been carried out yet.

The Star reported that Water, Land and Natural Resources Minis­ter Dr Xavier Jayakumar said that the Selangor government had no power to take back the land, as there already was a court agreement.

This follows a violent riot which was sparked after a group of armed men allegedly entered the temple on Nov 26.

On Nov 28, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin reportedly revealed that two of the developer’s lawyers paid a leader of the group RM150,000, and each “thug” was paid between RM150 to RM300.

Read also: Malaysia temple riot: Home Minister says developer’s lawyer paid ‘thugs’ to ‘take care of things’

But the developer One City Develop­ment, which is owned by Ayala Corporation via Malaysian company MCT Bhd, has denied the allegation, reported The Star.

Several people were injured in the incident, including fireman Mu­­hammad Adib Mohd Kassim who was admitted to the National Heart Institute with critical chest wounds.

His story blew up on social media, garnering sympathy and sparking anger amongst netizens.

On Dec 2, New Straits Times reported that the 24-year-old fireman no longer needed a life support machine for his heart, though he still needed help for his lungs to function.