Man spray-paints ‘X’ on statues at St Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam

The statues at the St Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam spray-painted with an ‘X’ by an unknown man yesterday afternoon. (WhatsApp pic)

GEORGE TOWN: An unknown person spray-painted statues with an “X” at the St Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam yesterday afternoon, leaving worshippers in shock.

In the 4.45pm incident, the man had come to the church complex and had used a black spray can.

He had sprayed an “X” on a few statues and spots before he was stopped by a security guard.

Police investigators said the man had then asked the guard for a pen and paper. He then wrote a verse from the Bible and hurriedly left on a motorcycle.

Investigators say that the guard did not take note of the make of the motorbike or its registration number. The guard described the man as being “angry”.

Central Seberang Perai police chief Nik Ros Azhan Nik Abdul Hamid said police are looking at nearby closed-circuit television cameras to obtain more details of the man.

“Besides the statues, the man appeared to have sprayed the floors, as well. The damage is estimated to be about RM200,” he said when contacted.

Nik Ros said the case is being investigated under Section 427 of the Penal Code for mischief. The offence carries a maximum five-year jail sentence or a fine, or both, if convicted.

The church in Cherok Tokun was founded by a French missionary in 1846. It is a popular place of worship with thousands flocking there for the annual Novena feast.

People of different faiths petition to Saint Anne, the mother of Mary and Jesus’s grandmother, and collect holy water flowing from the hill where the church is located.

On Sept 5, the church was elevated to a minor basilica by the pope, making it the first of its kind in the country, a news report stated.

When contacted, assistant parish priest Henry Rajoo told FMT that the church would leave the matter to the police to be investigated.