Church Demolition: Suit Set to Start

(excerpt) A civil suit by the Temiar Orang Asli of Gua Musang, Kelantan, filed against the state authorities for the demolition of their church, is slated for mention tomorrow in the Kota Baru High Court…The villagers also demanded compensation for the demolition of their church – which had stood on Pekek’s land – and an assurance that there would be no further disturbance, Soo said….n their suit, the plaintiffs are applying for declarations that they have a right over the land concerned as well as the constitutional right to practise their religion, which includes the right to set up a church on the land.

Church demolition: Suit set to start

Fauwaz Abdul Aziz | Jan 14, 08 3:33pm
A civil suit by the Temiar Orang Asli of Gua Musang, Kelantan, filed against the state authorities for the demolition of their church, is slated for mention tomorrow in the Kota Baru High Court.

The case was filed on July 1, 2007 by Kampung Jias head Pedik Busu and three other villagers, who named the Gua Musang District Council head, the Gua Musang Assistant Land and District Officer and the PAS-led state government as respondents.

Pastor Moses Soo – who has provided guidance to the villagers since many of them converted last February – said the suit follows the authorities’ failure to rebuild their church which was demolished on June 4 last year.

When contacted, Soo said a letter thanking the authorities for their offer to rebuild the church had been sent in June.

The villagers also demanded compensation for the demolition of their church – which had stood on Pekek’s land – and an assurance that there would be no further disturbance, Soo said.

“The authorities have not replied at all to the letter,” he said.

The authorities have built a multi-purpose hall on the site of the demolished church, he said, but the villagers are unhappy and are insisting on construction of a replacement church.

“The hall has been built and is ready, but nobody is using it. Why should they? They don’t want a multi-purpose hall. They want their church,” said Soo.

In their suit, the plaintiffs are applying for declarations that they have a right over the land concerned as well as the constitutional right to practise their religion, which includes the right to set up a church on the land.

They are also seeking a declaration that the issuance of notices against Pedek and the other villagers by the Gua Musang District Council head and Assistant Land and District Officer was unlawful.

The council head and assistant district officer had in their notices stated that the construction of the church (photo, before demolition) was done on state land without permission from the authorities, as required under the Street Drainage and Building Act 1974 and the State Land Code 1965 respectively .

The plaintiffs are also seeking the court’s declaration that the demolition was unlawful and that it was an act of trespass on Pedek’s property, an “abuse of power” and amounting to intervening in the religious rights of the Orang Asli.

The plaintiffs have also filed for damages and other costs.

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/77004

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