Kuala Lumpur, Apr.25 : Even as the Malaysian Government is planning to introduce guidelines to govern the construction and demolition of places of worship, the country's Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister, Shafie Apdal, has stopped short of giving an assurance that there would be no recurrence of the temple demolition incident in Kampung Jawa, Selangor, on the eve of Deepavali last year, which raised the ire of Hindus around the country.
"I won't say that because I am not in a position to do so. It is for each respective state authority, The Star quoted Apdal, as saying.
Elaborating on the guidelines, he said that there was a need to ensure that the guidelines were acceptable to all religious groups.
Speaking after chairing a meeting with the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism at the ministry in Jalan Sultan Ismail yesterday, he declined to reveal when the guidelines would be completed, but said it would not be too long.
Reaching an understanding between all religions, said Shafie, was vital, as was making sure laws and regulations have been clearly set down by local authorities.
He also did not rule out amending laws and enactments should the need arise.
Council president A. Vaithilingam said other issues discussed included conversions, bringing in of foreign priests and family laws.
Vaithilingam said the council had written to Home Minister Seri Syed Hamid Syed Albar requesting a meeting to discuss the issue of foreign priests.
Shafie, in his capacity as minister in charge of fostering unity, has been going all out to meet religious groups.
Last week, he met nine Muslim non-governmental organisations to seek their views on religious issues in the country, where many of the similar issues were discussed.