Selangor suspends controversial houses of worship guidelines

Datuk-Teng-Chang-Khim

SHAH ALAM: The Selangor government has suspended enforcement of amendments pertaining to houses of worship in the third version of the Selangor Town and Country Planning Guidelines.

This follows an uproar over restrictions on the building of new non-Muslim places of worship contained in the guidelines.

The state’s senior exco member, Teng Chang Khim, said the decision was made by the Selangor State Executive Council (MMKN) today. It comes into immediate effect.

He also said the state government had asked its Town and Country Planning Department (JPBD) to review a portion of the guidelines before deciding on the next appropriate course of action.

This might be to improve the guidelines, or to have the controversial portion involving non-Muslim places of worship completely removed, he said.

“I reported the controversy surrounding the guidelines at the exco meeting this morning, and the MMKN decided to suspend the enforcement of the controversial non-Muslim places of worship guidelines, pending a review.

“Only the guidelines that have created controversies will be suspended. So what is there to be concerned about anymore? JPBD will investigate and review it.”

Teng was speaking to reporters after the exco meeting here today.

Last Sunday, Teng was quoted by Sin Chew Daily as saying that certain sections of the Selangor Manual Guidelines and Selangor Planning Standard regarding the building of non-Muslim houses of worship needed to be changed or deleted.

He also said one of his officers was supposed to have made the changes but had failed to do so.

Teng added that among the “controversial” guidelines was the requirement for these houses of worship not to be present in commercial areas or to be at least 50 metres from the nearest Muslim home.

Other requirements include: Houses of worship of non-Muslims situated in residential areas occupied by all races must obtain the permission of residents within 200 metres of the house of worship. The structure must also not be taller than the mosques nearby.

Meanwhile, Teng this afternoon also addressed calls for him to resign over the oversight. He said it was no longer an issue as the Selangor government’s priority was to protect the state’s religious harmony.

“The most important thing is that the state government wants to protect the peace and harmony among the various religious groups in Selangor. And we respect all religions practised here,” he said.