About 7 Chinese temples in Perak have received eviction notices on last Friday (7 January), prompting concerns among their management teams.
Among them were one of the oldest and famous places of worship in Ipoh, Perak, Nam Then Tong Temple, which was being slapped with an eviction notice from the Kinta District’s Land Office, requesting them to cease operation and move out within 30 days.
According to the notice, the temple was accused of violating Section 425 of the National Land Code (NLC) for illegally occupying state-owned, reserved, or mining land without permission.
If found guilty, the management of the temple will face a fine of up to RM500,000, a jail term of five months, or both, reported Sin Chew Daily.
Meanwhile, the temple trustee chairman Chan Kwai Hoong confirmed receiving the notice when contacted by The Star. He admitted that Nam Thean Tong currently doesn’t have a lease but they had been trying to apply for it for decades and were being rejected.
“There were also no reasons given to us as to why our applications were not approved,” he said, adding that he hope the Perak Menteri Besar will give his application due consideration and be open to gazetting the land the temple sits on for religious use.
Despite having received the eviction notice, Chan assured that the temple will be open for the upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations.
“As the Lunar New Year is approaching, the temple has purchased a lot of incense for the believers to use in their prayers. Therefore, it will remain open as usual,” he said.
Other than Nam Thean Tong Temple, 6 other temples also received the same notice, according to Oriental Daily. They include Dong Hua Cave Temple, Gua Naga Mas, Wat Puthanimittan, Jubaoyan Thai Buddhist Temple, Bercham Fuchang Temple, Buddist Cave Thai Temple.
Following the incident, Perak MCA offered a helping hand to the managements of temple, where the state party chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said that they will arrange a meeting between representatives of the affected temples and Land Office officials.
Soon after the drama, The Star reported that the Perak Land and Mines Department revoked the eviction notices served on the cave temples in the Kinta district.
Dr Mah said the department director agreed that some of the cave temples were culturally and historically significant and had tourism value as well.
“I will set up and chair a temporary committee to continue discussions with the department to work out solutions to the issues faced by the cave temples.”
“I will also help the temple committees prepare the necessary documentation to resolve these issues for the long term,” he said, adding that the plans include to gazette land for temple use or granting a Temporary Occupancy Licence to the temples to continue using their respective sites.
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