Kedah Chinese associations to hand memo to MB over temple, shrine demolition

Representatives of Chinese organisations at the Kedah Chinese Assembly Hall meeting in Alor Setar last night.

ALOR SETAR: The Kedah Chinese Assembly Hall today resolved to hand over a memorandum to the menteri besar concerning Chinese places of worship, after a rise in “clear-out” and demolition notices from local authorities.

Assembly president Cheng Lai Hock said the memorandum contained five proposals to the state government, including a pause on enforcement action against non-Muslim places of worship.

Cheng said the state government would also be urged to help legalise shrines and temples which were considered illegal.

Recently, the managements of about 10 Chinese places of worship said they had received notices from the Alor Setar City Council to clear out.

“The legalisation should be allowed, so long as the said places do not jeopardise safety of the people and cause traffic congestion.

“We are also asking the state to ensure that all future development approvals be given only if developers allocate spaces for non-Muslim places of worship.

“Overall, we want a ‘status quo’ on all existing places of worship and hope that local authorities will defer enforcement action for the time being,” he told FMT.

Cheng said the local authorities should also simplify the application process of the establishment of places of worship and allow the conversion of land or building use for religious purposes.

He said the proposals were derived from a meeting with representatives of Chinese-related religious associations and temples last night.

“We will now seek a meeting with the menteri besar to submit our memorandum,” he said.

He said state executive councillor for Chinese and Siamese affairs Dr Robert Ling was also present yesterday, along with opposition political leaders including DAP’s Tan Kok Yew and PKR’s Simon Ooi.

The assembly hall is the umbrella body for 250 Kedah Chinese associations and has about 3,000 members.

Recently, Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said the state government would not tolerate illegal structures, as they were “disorderly”.

He said this following the city council’s demolition of a 78-year-old Hindu shrine across the Alor Setar railway station early in the morning on July 9.

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