Church destroyed in Malaysia

By July 2, 2007

GUA MUSANG, MALAYSIA — The Malaysian Government has
apparently demolished a Christian church building in an Orang Asli settlement
in Gua Musang in Ulu Kelantan, according to Salem Voice Ministries News
Service.

The news service said that just few months ago, the Orang
Asli community in Kampung Jias converted to Christianity as a result of the
ministries of Pastor Moses Soo. Since they were in need of a church to worship
they consulted the Village Development and Security Committee and the
Department of Orang Asli Affairs to erect a church to mark their faith.

It was sanctioned and they proceeded constructing the church
with the help of volunteers and certain donations, SVM said.

On April 11, however, the Gua Musang district land office
issued a stop work order, stating that the construction was being carried out
on state land without permission from the authorities, the news agency
reported.

The following day, Rev. Wong Kim Kong, Secretary General of
the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia (NECF) sent a letter
to the land office, saying the land belonged to the Orang Asli villagers under
Section 2 6(1) and 7(1) of the Orang Asli Act of 1954. Rev. Wong sent copies of
the letter to the Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Kelantan Menteri Besar
Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and the
Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail.

Construction of the church continued.

Once again the Land Office issued another notice on May 24
informing the village headman Pedik Busu that the "illegal"
structure would be demolished.

Despite various efforts to block the demolition, the
church was finally torn down by bulldozers on June 4.

Pastor Moses Soo told Rev. Paul Ciniraj, the Director of the
Salem Voice Ministries and the SVM News Service that police tortured him
several times.

Pastor Soo also said the district land office does not have
any right to reduce the church to rubble, because the land belonged to the
headman of Kampung Jias but was donated to the Orang Asli community for the
purpose of building the church.

After demolishing the church, a report was made on June 6 at
the Gua Musang Police Station by the headman Pg. Pedik bin Busu of Kg. Jias,
accompanied by the lawyer Mr. Lum C. S.

SVM news service says, "This is the latest in a string
of incidents involving the demolition of places of worship of religious
minorities in Malaysia. It goes without saying that this is a worrying trend
and despite public outcry, there seems to be no indication that this will end
anytime soon. Such incidents of discrimination and disregard of legitimate
rights are especially prevalent with marginalized communities that are more out
of sight, like the rural poor ethnic Indians and the Orang Asli."

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