Court: Demolition of church unlawful

18 07 2009

by Hafiz Yatim, 15 Jul 09

The Kota Bharu High Court today ruled that the Gua Musang local authority had unlawfully demolished a church building in an Orang Asli settlement.

Justice Mohd Azlan Hashim ordered the local authority to pay damages and costs.

“It acted unlawfully to demolish the church without giving a due notice of 30 days,” he said.

He also declared that the authority’s move to put up a multi-purpose building on the site of the church was an act of trespass”.

The judge has ordered the court registrar to assess the exemplary damages and costs at a later date.

The Temiar Orang Asli community of Kampung Jias was represented by Lum Chee Seng and N Subramaniyan.

Kelantan legal adviser Khalid Anwar represented the state government and other agencies.

Chronology of events

The case was filed on July 1, 2007 by village head Pedik Busu and three 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.

According to Pastor Moses Soo, the community had embraced Christianity in February 2007 and wanted to erect a small church to mark their faith.

After consulting the Village Development and Security Committee and the Department of Orang Asli Affairs, they proceeded with the construction with the help of volunteers and donations.

On April 11, the Gua Musang district land office issued a ‘stop work’ order. The letter stated that the construction was being carried out on state land without permission from the authorities.

However, the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia told the land office that the site belonged to the villagers.

In spite of this, another ‘stop work’ order was issued on April 19, followed by notice dated May 24 that the building would be demolished. The bulldozers arrived on June 4.

Source: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/108524

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