Singapore’s Oldest Hindu Temple Under Probe
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is being investigated by the Commissioner of Charities over governance and administration issues.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, one of the oldest Hindu temples in Singapore, is under investigation from the Commissioner of Charities (COC) for suspected offences. The commissioner undertook a review on the temple following the feedback COC received on issues concerning the temple’s management, the office said in a statement on August 22.
“The review identified certain areas of concern with regard to governance and administration, which warrant conducting an Inquiry,” the statement said. “The COC has therefore decided to institute an Inquiry into SVT before deciding on the next course of action.”
About the temple
Located at 41,Serangoon Road, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (SVT) was built in the 1880s by Indian migrants who came to Singapore. The temple is devoted to Goddess Kali, who is popularly worshipped in the Indian state of Bengal. According to a 1969 report by JP Milaret, Bengali workers were involved in the building of the early temple structures,” says the temple website, adding that there are no temple records, however, that confirm this report. The architectural and aesthetic features of the building resemble the South Indian style of temple construction, and the temple came to be known as ‘Soonambu Kambam Kovil’, that is, temple at the lime village.
The temple is now visited by around 5,000 devotees on Sundays.
It obtained charity status in 1988. In 2014, SVT reopened after two years of renovation.
The temple’s management committee consisted of seven individuals, four of whom are trustees, as of November 20 last year, according to the COC, Singapore-based publication The Newspaper (TNP) reported. The last time the temple submitted its financial statement was for the financial year 2013-2014. Charities have to submit statements of accounts every year, and the deadline lies within six months from the end of the financial year, TNP reported, adding that devotees they got in touch with did not know about the investigation.
“I am disappointed this happened. Transparency is important,” it quoted S. Chelvi, a 51-year-old devotee who works at Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore, as saying.
The COC said it will work with the Hindu Endowments Board to instal measures for ensuring that the SVT is “properly managed” and its religious activities are not affected while the probe is on.
A spokesman for the Hindu Endowments Board said the body will assist the COC to ensure smooth operations at the temple. “Devotees’ interests are paramount in our minds as the COC continues with the investigations,” he added, according to the Straits Times.