Taman Medan church can be fined RM25,000 under the law
Madame Speaker Hannah Yeoh and other Selangor officials held a meeting with representatives of the Community of Praise church, said Elizabeth Wong in her press statement on 21 April 2015.
This church is the one in Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya that is at the centre of the cross controversy.
BELOW: Teresa Kok giving flowers yesterday to Pastor Paul Packianathan of the Community of Praise church. On the left is YB Rajiv (Hannah Yeoh’s former Personal Assistant), in the middle is YB Hee and on the right is YB Lim Lip Eng who is DAP evangelista MP Segambut
Evangelistas meeting Taman Medan church leaders
At the meeting last week between Selangor officials and the Taman Medan church were Madame Speaker Hannah Yeoh, Selangor exco Elizabeth Wong, Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian, Bukit Gasing Adun Rajiv Rishyakaran, MBPJ councilors F.K. Tang and Peter Chong as well as Committee on Non-Islam Affairs (HESI) advisors.
The Pakatan Christian politicians in the meeting had advised the church to put its cross back up. The Christian politicians recommended such a course of action in order “to stop this precedent of mob rule by politically-aligned extremists”.
The church however is waiting for a sign from God and has prayed to seek guidance.
Pakatan YBs in exco making their own S’gor rules
According to Elizabeth, “MBPJ Councillors also clarified that since 2008, the previous State Committee on Non-Islam Affairs (then known as State Committee on Non-Islam Places of Worship or RIBI) has allowed Churches to operate in commercial premises or offices without the need for application of permits, only by way of notification to the committee”.
As has been widely reported by the pro-Christian, English-language media over the last few days, Elizabeth stated that a “notification to HESI committee suffices” for the shoplot churches to operate without the need for permit.
Some concerned lawyers have countered that the Selangor exco are on the wrong side of the law.
And RM500 fine each day for every day the offence is continued
In their press statement on April 26 titled ‘Elizabeth Wong and Selangor State Committee on Non-Islamic Affairs are Wrong’, a group called Concerned Lawyers for Justice (CLJ) said freedom of worship is not absolute and the right of a religious organization to manage its church “must be in line with the law”.
CLJ brought attention to Subsection 70(12) of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 which reads:
“Any person who uses any building or part of a building for a purpose other than which it was originally constructed for without the prior written permission from the local authority shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty-five thousand ringgit and shall also be liable to a further fine not exceeding five hundred ringgit for every day during which the offence is continued after a notice to cease using for other purpose has been served on such person.”
The CLJ’s considered opinion is that it is clearly illegal for the Community of Praise to convert their present rented building for use as a church without first obtaining prior written permission from the MBPJ.
This is an offence liable to a fine of up to RM25,000 if convicted.
CLJ: Not within competence of exco to waive requirement
The lawyers further believe that Selangor state exco members do not have the jurisdiction to waive the above said requirement under federal law.
They urge the relevant authorities to investigate this matter, saying the practice of HESI and the exco “since 2008 pertaining to the operation of churches is untenable, and must be halted immediately”.
With so many evangelical Christians in high positions in the Selangor government, it appears the Christian groups have been getting away with flouting existing laws since Pakatan took power in the state.
ABOVE: LGBT activist Azrul Mohd Khalib, together with Council of Churches sec-gen Rev. Hermen Shastri, and other ‘Malaysians for Malaysia’ NGIs distributing flowers yesterday in Taman Medan