Government demolishes church in Malaysia
By Michael Ireland
GUA MUSANG, MALAYSIA (ANS) --
Malaysian Government has apparently demolished a Christian church
building in an Orang Asli settlement in Gua Musang in Ulu Kelantan on
June 4, according to Salem Voice Ministries News Service.
The news service said that just few months ago, the Orang Asli
community in Kampung Jias converted into Christianity as a result of
the ministries of Pastor Moses Soo. Since they were in need of a church
to worship they consulted the Village Development and Security
Committee and the Department of Orang Asli Affairs to erect a church to
mark their faith.
"It was sanctioned and they proceeded constructing the church with the
help of volunteers and certain donations," SVM said.
On April 11, however, the Gua Musang district land office issued a stop
work order, stating that the construction was being carried out on
state land without permission from the authorities, the news agency
The following day, Rev. Wong Kim Kong, Secretary General of the
National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia (NECF) sent a
letter to the land office, saying the land belonged to the Orang Asli
villagers under Section 2 6(1) and 7(1) of the Orang Asli Act of 1954.
Rev. Wong sent copies of the letter to the Prime Minister Abdullah
Ahmad Badawi, Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, Gua Musang
MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and the Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail.
Construction of the church continued.
Once again the Land Office issued another notice on May 24 informing
the village headman Pedik Busu that the "illegal" structure would be
Despite various efforts to block the demolishment, the church was
finally torn down by bulldozers on June 4.
Pastor Moses Soo told Rev. Paul Ciniraj, the Director of the Salem
Voice Ministries and the SVM News Service that police tortured him
Pastor Soo also said the district land office does not have any right
to reduce the church to rubble, because the land belonged to the
headman of Kampung Jias but was donated to the Orang Asli community for
the purpose of building the church.
After demolishing the church, a report was made on June 6 at the Gua
Musang Police Station by the headman Pg. Pedik bin Busu of Kg. Jias,
accompanied by the lawyer Mr. Lum C. S.
SVM news service says; "This is 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 marginalized
communities that are more out of sight, like the rural poor ethnic
Indians and the Orang Asli."
|** Michael Ireland is an international
freelance journalist. A former reporter with a London newspaper,
Michael is the Chief Correspondent for ASSIST News Service of Lake
Forest, California. Michael immigrated to the United States in 1982 and
became a US citizen in September, 1995. He is married with two
children. Michael has also been a frequent contributor to UCB Europe, a
British Christian radio station.