Wading into the debate over the future of Brickfield’s 110-year old Vivekananda Ashram, the Tourism Ministry has announced that it will reapply to gazette the historic building as a national heritage site.
Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz informed the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that his ministry had made the application to the Heritage Department on November 12, and had sent notices to both Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the Vivekananda Ashram board of trustees on the matter.
“The government will next issue a notice of determination to gazette the site which will be out in December and then make an application to the district land office.
“We expect the objection period to end in February and the City Hall will hold hearings if objections are raised… if none then we expect the site to be gazetted by March.
“If all goes well, we will issue the government gazette notice… if objections are again raised, another public hearing will be held and then the minister will decide on what happens to the ashram,” said Nazri, as reported by Pathma Subramaniam of The Malay Mail Online.
He said the process is expected to be concluded by next March, barring any objections, and should be resolved by October at the latest.
Nazri added that the Federal Territories Ministry had also agreed to postpone development on the ashram until all deliberations have been resolved.
“Heritage is colour blind… this is Malaysia’s legacy, so to me the same enthusiasm will be given to any heritage site… no matter if it is related to Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism.
“Because once it’s lost, it will be lost forever,” he said.
The Vivekananda Ashram has been the focus of intense debate since the announcement that it would be redeveloped to be part of a 23-storey residential tower, as shown in this artist’s rendition:
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