By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Sept 5: Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) chairman Lo Khere Chiang said the application to legalise a small temple structure at 3rd Mile, Sg Maong, has to be turned down due to public complaints.
He explained that the small temple, which was located on a road verge between two carparks, was erected over a period of time by some individuals without notifying MPP and without the consensus of the general public.
“We noticed that some kind of structure started to be there a few months ago. Last two weeks, the main structure came into being and two days ago, a roof was placed over it.
“This structure has been constructed in a public place and the public should be consulted. There has been no public consultation or approval from the authorities with regards to setting up such a structure there, which is a public area,” Lo told DayakDaily.
He said there are law and rules to be followed and no individuals can put up any structure anywhere they like.
“Imagine if everyone is allowed to put up a worship place anywhere they like, what will happen? If any denomination of any religion starts to do that, what will Kuching end up like?”
Lo, who is also Batu Kitang assemblyman, agreed that there is freedom of religion which the state respects and all Sarawakians have the freedom to practice their cultures and religions.
“But this does not give us the right to put up any structure in any public place anyhow we want. We must also be sensitive to culture and religion of others.”
While some put up with the temple structure, there were others who objected it, he continued.
“The council is not going around, trying to find fault with everyone. But someone did put up the structure illegally without consultation with the public or the authorities.
“There are complaints against the structure in the media. Of course, now those setting up the structure also went to the media. So what should we do?
“It is only fair for MPP to act according to the rule of law. We have to be fair to everyone,” said Lo.
He was responding to the request of the Society of Tolerance and Awareness (SOFTAA), which granted support to Persatuan Seni Mempertahankan Diri Sahkong Kuching (PSMDSK), who had applied to legalise a small temple structure at 3rd Mile, Sg Maong that was turned down by MPP.
SOFTAA secretary general Mark Murau Sumon, commenting on the structure, quoted Article 11 of the Federal Constitution that enshrined freedom of religion.
Murau said the temple structure was of public interest and the demolition of it touched on the sensitivity of the religion and the community.
He requested on behalf of PSMDSK for MPP to give a grace period of 10 years to attain a win-win solution. — DayakDaily