Reserved for places of worship: An aerial view of state land up for sale to non-Muslim religious bodies that is located next to oxidation ponds near Ampang Jajar in Mak Mandin, Butterworth. — MUSTAFA AHMAD/The Star
BUTTERWORTH: An MCA leader has suggested that the Penang government give the 8ha land it reserved for non-Muslim religious groups in Ampang Jajar here free to them instead of selling it.
Penang MCA organising secretary Dr Tan Chuan Hong (pic) said the state government should give the land generously to non-Muslim groups as a gift to show that it was treating all religions in the state equally.
He said the reason the land should be given free is because the current state government had given disproportionate amount of allocations to Muslim and non-Muslim groups in the state over the years.
He said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, in his response to Pulau Betong assemblyman Datuk Muhammad Farid Saad during the state assembly sitting in July last year, stated that the state allocated RM460mil for Islamic affairs from 2008 to April last year and RM7.11mil to other religious groups from 2012 to April last year.
Tan said the figures were stated in reports by various Chinese dailies.
“Although it’s a comparison of eight years and four years, the ratio is 98.47% to 1.53%. The gap is like comparing an elephant to an ant,” he told a press conference at the Ampang Jajar site yester-day.
He said 58% of Penang’s population was made up of non-Muslims who contributed more in quit rent, water tariff and commercial taxes to the government.
“But the state has given a large proportion of its allocation to Islamic affairs although Muslims only make up 42% of the population. This is too imbalanced,” he said.
It was reported in March that 32 plots of state land in the Ampang Jajar area, located by a river near a solid waste transfer station and next to three giant oxidation ponds, had been reserved for non-Muslim religious groups to build their places of worship.
Lim had said the undeveloped lots ranged in size from 557.42sq m to about 0.4ha.