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Orang Asli Dept orders work on church building to be stopped

The Christians in the Temiar village of Pos Pasik, about 70 km northeast of Gua Musang in Kelantan, have been told by the Federal Department of Orang Asli Affairs (JHEOA) that they have no permission to build a church on their land.

According to Colin Nicholas, the coordinator of the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns, on 20 May 2010, the village head wrote to the JHEOA Director-General to inform him of their plan to build the church in their village, half of whom have converted to Christianity in recent years.

However, on 9 August 2010, the Deputy Director-General, writing on behalf of the D-G, replied that their "application" to build the church had been rejected and the community was asked to stop work on the building immediately.

Colin said the Orang Asli are not happy with this answer as they had not seek permission from the JHEOA. They had merely exercised courtesy to inform the JHEOA of their plans. The Orang Asli of Pos Pasik consider it their right to build such a structure on their land, in accordance with the Federal Constitution.

He said the lawyer representing the Temiar headman has recently written to the D-G informing him that the JHEOA permission was not being sought. He also sought the reasons for the rejection of the church building.

According to Colin, if the church is demolished or stopped, it will be the second Orang Asli church in Kelantan, and not fewer than five in the peninsula altogether, that have been demolished by the authorities on the basis of various excuses, including that the Orang Asli do not have rights to the land concerned.

But it is evident that the issue is religion-related as other structures, including suraus, have been build on such lands without any issue.

But as land is a state matter, the Temiars of Pos Pasik are seeking the intervention of the Kelantan Menteri Besar in this matter.

For copies of letters mentioned in this report and some images, go to: www.coac.org.my

MySinchew 2010-09-17



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