Malaysian Government Demolished
Note: The Federal Member of Parliament for Gua Musang is T
"...The Land Office had demolished a church in an Orang Asli settlement in Gua Musang, Ulu Kelantan on June 4.
... the Orang Asli community in Kampung Jias had embraced Christianity in February.
They consulted the Village Development and Security Committee and the Department of Orang Asli Affairs to erect a small church to mark their faith.
They proceeded with the construction with the help of volunteers and donations.
According to Pastor Moses Soo, on several occasions, people from religious groups came to the site uninvited and took photographs of the construction and those involved in the work. "They came in cars that had car plates indicating they belonged to Islamic religious groups. They looked scary and tough, but the villagers refused to stop work even though they were afraid of the people who came," he told malaysiakini today.
On April 11, the Gua Musang district land office issued a stop work order. Reason: The letter stated that the construction was being carried out on state land without permission from the authorities.
The following day, the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia (NECF), in a letter to the land office, said the land belonged to the Orang Asli villagers.
"Their right is guaranteed under Section 2 6(1) and 7(1) of the Orang Asli Act 1954," read the letter signed by NECF secretary-general Reverend Wong Kim Kong.
Copies of the letter were sent to:
- Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi,
- Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat ,
- Gua Musang MP T
engku Razaleigh Hamzah and
- Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail .
Work on the church continued.
On April 19, the Land Office slapped them with another stop work order.
Five days later, several policemen had asked Pastor Moses Soo to follow them to the police station without providing any reason. "Three police officers stopped me while on my way to Gua Musang at about 11am. They demanded for my IC (identity card), which I obliged afer seeing the officers' identification.They insisted without reason that I should follow them back to the police station, which I declined as I was heading back to
Pastor Soo also said the policemen then went to the village and took down the IC numbers of the volunteers involved in the building of the church.
On May 24, the Land Office issued a third notice informing the village headman Pedik Busu that the "illegal" structure would be demolished.
The land belonged to the headman of Kampung Jias but was donated to the community for the purpose of building the church.
On June 6, a police report was made at the Gua Musang Police Station by the headman Pg. Pedik bin Busu of Kg. Jias and he was accompanied by the lawyer Mr. Lum C. S
This incident is just the latest in a string of incidents involving the demolition of places of worship of religious minorities in Malaysia. It goes without saying that this is a worrying trend and despite public outcry, there seems to be no indication that this will end anytime soon. Such incidents of discrimination and disregard of legitimate rights are especially prevalent with marginalised communities that are more "out of sight" like the rural poor ethnic Indians and the Orang Asli.