Malaysia Uncut

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Scuffle breaks out during temple demolition

Regina William Updated: 04:49PM Fri, 17
Nov 2006 SUN; BUKIT MERTAJAM (Nov 17, 2006):

Police were forced to fire two warning shots when a scuffle broke out while
Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) enforcement workers were in the midst of
tearing down a Taoist temple along Jalan Maju on Friday (Nov 17, 2006).

More than 50 MPSP enforcement personnel and about 30 police officers had
cordoned off the area around the Nine Emperor God temple from as early as 8am to
enable the demolition works to be conducted. The temple committee had supposedly
constructed a house of worship without prior council approval. Bukit Mertajam
MP Chong Eng who was at the scene with state executive councillor and Berapit
state assemblyman Lau Chiek Tuan said both of them appealed to the enforcement
unit to defer the demolition until the temple’s statues and deities were
removed. “We tried to persuade them but they refused.

“When they started demolishing the extension structures, the temple’s committee
members managed to tear part of the zinc fencing and entered the temple

“They, too pleaded with the council workers to stop and the scuffle started
between the groups which had gathered there,” she added. Police personnel who
were at the scene then fired two shots and in the ensuing free-for-all, arrested
six people at the scene.

The demolition works were then halted. Chong later went to meet council
president Datuk Aris Ariffin who said the temple had been constructed illegally
even though the land belonged tothe temple. “He told us there was no approval
for the temple building and the council had to act based on public complaints,”
she said. “The council should be sensitive when tearing down places of worship
even if they are illegal structures. I don’t understand the double standards
practised. “Look at Zakaria’s
(Port Klang assemblyman Datuk Zainal @ Zakaria Mat Deros) house which the
council has not torn down despite it being illegal. “This matter could have been
solved amicably if the council had been sensitive enough,” she added. Chong
claimed that after the temple authorities received a notice from the council,
state executive councillor Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon and Lau met Aris and asked for
a grace period before the temple was demolished. Toh had suggested that the
state exco would discuss the matter after the Nine Emperor God celebrations
which ended last week. But before the state exco could discuss the matter, the
council had moved in to demolish the structure. “Due to the council’s
insensitivity, matters have gotten out of hand and resulted in such a volatile
situation. “This is a regretable incident as the temple committee was willing to
cooperate,” Chong added. She called on the state government and the housing and
local government ministry to formulate guidelines on the necessary procedures
which must be adhered to when demolishing structures especially places of
worship. Aris and other council officials could not reached for comment despite
numerous attempts.

Deputy CPO SAC II Othman Harun confirmed that six persons were arrested and the
case has been classified as rioting under Section 148 of the Penal Code.

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – A bid by Malaysian officials to raze an ethnic Chinese
temple turned ugly on Friday with police firing warning shots to quell protests,
a witness said, just a day after the premier sought curbs on religious disputes.
About 40 people scuffled with about 80 police and municipal officials at the
Taoist temple on the northern island of Penang, soon after the structure was
cordoned off for demolition, the parliamentary deputy for the area said.
Municipal authorities say it was built
without planning approval. “They didn’t allow anyone to go in and pick up the
statues and deities of the gods and that made people angry,” Chong Eng, a
lawmaker and member of the opposition Democratic Action Party, told Reuters.
“People forced the gate to enter the temple,” she added. Police fired two
warning shots to break up the scuffle and arrested six people, she added. The
demolition was halted pending a decision by municipal authorities next week.
Police declined to comment.

The incident follows several recent reports of demolitions of Hindu temples that
have stirred outcry from Malaysia’s ethnic Indian community, feeding minority
communities’ fears that their rights are at risk among a largely Muslim
population. Political leaders of the ethnic Malay majority have warned the
nation’s Chinese and Indian minorities to stop questioning Malay privileges or
risk hurting race relations, a touchy issue in a country that has suffered race
riots in the past. Earlier this
week, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said polemics on race and religion in
Malaysia had reached a worrying level, saying guidelines for debate needed to be
laid down. “It’s time to remind people to lay down the ground rules,” Abdullah,
an Islamic scholar who portrays Malaysia as a moderate Muslim nation said on

= = = = = = =

Following are belated versions of the incident with other details

Near riot as temple is torn down; From NST; 18 Nov 2006;
BUKIT MERTAJAM: Police fired two warning shots to prevent a near riot when
workers from the Seberang Perai Municipal Council tried to demolish a Taoist
temple here yesterday. The incident occurred when a 40-man enforcement team
escorted by auxiliary policemen turned up at the Tou Mu Kung temple in Jalan
Maju here
about 9am. They then attempted to demolish the building using excavators.
However, tempers became frayed when the enforcement team prevented temple
committee members from entering thebuilding to remove statues of deities and
other praying material. The demolition team then proceeded to tear down the
temple’s front portion despite appeals from State Domestic Trade and Consumer
Affairs Committee chairman Lau Chiek Tuan and Bukit Mertajam Member of
Parliament Chong Eng. This sparked anger among some 50-odd temple members at the
site. Some of them decided to climb over the temple’s fence, forcing the
policemen to react. Two shots were fired and moments later six men, including
temple committee members, were handcuffed.

One of the handcuffed men suddenly started hyperventilating and collapsed and
was rushed to the Seberang Jaya Hospital. He is reported to be in stable
condition. It is learnt that a police sergeant was injured in the commotion and
received outpatient treatment. Lau, who is also Berapit state assemblyman,
criticised the council for failing to handle the matter tactfully. He also
chided MPSP president Datuk Md Aris Ariffin for dishonouring a promise that the
temple’s status would be discussed at the state executive council meeting next
Wednesday. He said Md Aris had agreed last month to allow the matter to be
handled by State Exco members. Chong demanded
that the council explain why it was tearing down temples when there were
hundreds of other illegal structures in the area.

And From The STAR +++++++++++++

Cop and two others hurt as crowd turns violent

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Police fired two shots in the air to disperse a crowd of 300
which turned unruly during demolition work at aChinese temple in Jalan Maju
here. Three people, including a policeman, were injured in the incident that
happened at 8.30am yesterday. Two of them – a contractor’s son and a worker at a
housing project behind the illegal temple – were warded at theBukit Mertajam
Hospital with head injuries while the policeman was treated for bruises.

The mob was believed to have attacked the duo over suspicions that the
contractor of the housing project had complained to the Seberang Prai Municipal
Council about the temple. It is learnt that police have detained six persons
aged between 20 and 40. Temple committee vice-chairman Ang Sum Kee, 43, said the
temple was built in 1985. Berapit assemblyman Lau Chiek Tuan said he and state
executive councillor Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon met council president Datuk Md Aris
Ariffin after the temple committee was notified by the council that the
structure was illegal and would be demolished. “We told Md Aris to wait until we
raised the matter at the exco meeting on
Wednesday,” he said, adding that the temple committee was looking for an
alternative site for the temple. Md Aris was not available for comment despite
attempts to contact him.



Sunday, November 19, 2006 - Posted by | News

1 Comment »

  1. I tried to dig up some info on Acmar, the super rich developers, and this is what came up. Sounds sketchy….

    Comment by nat | Friday, November 24, 2006 | Reply

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