Christians in the Temiar village of Pos Pasik, about 70km northeast of Gua Musang in Kelantan, have been told by the Department of Orang Asli Affairs (JHEOA) that they have no permission to build a church on their land, writes Colin Nicholas.
On 20 May 2010, the village head wrote to the Director-General of the JHEOA 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.
The Orang Asli are not happy with this answer as they did not seek permission from the JHEOA. They merely exercised courtesy to inform them 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 Constitution.
The lawyer representing the Temiar headman has recently written to the D-G informing him that the department’s permission was not being sought. He also sought the reasons for the rejection of the church building.
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If the church is demolished or stopped, it will be the second Orang Asli church in the state of Kelantan (and no less 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 Menteri Besar of Kelantan in this matter.
For further details, please contact: Pastor Moses Soo – 012 3255678
For copies of letters mentioned in this report and some images, go to: www.coac.org.my
Colin Nicholas is coordinator of the Center for Orang Asli Concerns