KUALA TERENGGANU, Feb 23: PAS parliamentarian for Kuala Terengganu Abdul Wahid Endut has called on the community there to help rebuild a 200-year old Chinese temple ravaged by fire earlier this week.
“We must all do what we can to help the Chinese community restore the temple which has deep historical significance to Kuala Terengganu,” Wahid told Harakahdaily.
“Not only the non-Muslims but also the Muslims because we all have a responsibility to safeguard our common heritage and based on Islam, it is our duty to respect all places of worship, whether Christian, Chinese, Indian, Sikh or Malay."
(PIC: Wahid, second from right during the temple burning)
The Ho Ann Kiong temple is situated in downtown Kuala Terengganu, at the Chinatown tourist belt. It was built by early Hokkien settlers in 1801 and is the oldest structure in that vicinity.
Nearly 60 percent of the temple was gutted by the fire that broke out at 9.30pm on Monday.
Not part of the Allah row
However, Wahid – who is also the assemblyman for Wakaf Mempelam - rubbished initial fears that the fire may have been an extension of the spate of attacks against places of worship following a row over the use of the word Allah.
“The police and fire department have carried out quite extensive preliminary checks and they do not suspect any arson,” said Wahid, who inspected the temple earlier on Tuesday.
“You see, the outside of the temple is fine, most of the damage is inside the temple hall. So the possibility is strong that it may have been due to the huge amount of materials burnt as offerings such as joss sticks or oil.”
Some of the materials were priceless
Meanwhile, police are in the process of finalizing their investigations, while the temple custodians are still estimating the cost of the damages.
MCA assemblyman for Bandar, Toh Chin Yaw, confirmed the temple was the oldest and largest Chinese place of worship in Terengganu.
According to him, building materials were brought in from China about 200 years ago.
“It not easy to rebuild the temple as some of the material inside was priceless and hard to be sourced now, even in China,” he said.