GEORGE TOWN, Oct 13 — The Penang state government will not indiscriminately demolish any illegal non-Muslim places of worship (RIBI), said state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo (DAP ― Datuk Keramat) at the state legislative assembly.
He said there is a state RIBI committee to look into issues related to RIBI.
The Local Government, Housing Development and Town and Country Planning Committee chairman said any enforcement action against RIBI can only be conducted after a decision is made by the state Land Committee based on consultation with the RIBI committee.
“The RIBI committee will then scrutinise the issue with related technical agencies and the assemblyman of the area,” he said in reply to a question by Gooi Zi Sen (DAP ― Pengkalan Kota).
Gooi had asked if the state has a procedure to prevent RIBI being indiscriminately demolished such as what happened in Kedah.
Jagdeep said the procedure to refer all cases involving RIBI to the committee was in place since 2019 and was to avoid indiscriminate demolition of RIBI due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Then Opposition assemblyman Mohd Yusni Mat Piah (PAS - Penaga) pointed out that there were 69 “haram” (illegal) RIBI in the state.
“What are the steps that the state took to ensure these places adhere to the local bylaws?” he asked.
Backbencher M. Satees (DAP ― Bagan Dalam) immediately objected to the term “haram” being used to refer to places of worship.
Jagdeep agreed with Satees that the term “haram” was inappropriate to be used for RIBI before assuring Yusni that the authorities will take action to ensure that all RIBI comply with local bylaws.
“This is a sensitive issue as it involves various religious sensitivities so there are other ways to manage this such as referring to the RIBI committee for resolution,” he said.
He added that the RIBI committee has a land bank for RIBI contributed by developers and this land bank could be used to relocate RIBI that were built without permits on state lands.