Land for houses of worship

(From left) Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng, Chow, Jagdeep, state executive councillor Soon Lip Chee and Bagan Dalam assemblyman M. Satees showing the site plan for the Ribi development during the event at the Butterworth Digital Library.

A UNIQUE hub of spirituality and religious harmony is coming soon in Penang as the state has allotted a spacious plot for non-Islamic houses of worship (RiBi).

This site in Ampang Jajar, Butterworth, will house 31 temples or churches, with two more utility plots, said local government committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo.

He said Penang had spent RM9.2mil to get the basic infrastructure ready for the RiBi plots.

He said the 8.5ha land, worth RM17.6mil, had been equipped with proper roads and street lights.

“Out of the 8.5ha land, 3.8ha has been allocated for RiBi.

“The remaining land will be used for utilities and access facilities, ” he said at the offer letter presentation ceremony at Butterworth Digital Library recently.

A total of 35 religious organisations received the letters offering them a plot in the site.

Jagdeep added that in total, the state government had allotted 52 plots of land, with 11 on the island and 41 on the mainland for RiBi purposes since 2008.

“A total of RM6.775mil was contributed to assist 165 qualified RiBi applications since 2016.

“As of August, the remainder of the RiBi fund is RM2.671mil.

“Non-Islamic houses of worship in the state are encouraged to apply for the Ribi fund for upgrading and building works, ” he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said Ampang Jajar could be the first location in Malaysia to house so many places of worship in one area.

“We hope that they can exist harmoniously. It may attract visitors who will want to see this unique area.

“The state will provide a 50% discount on the lease rate for the land.

“We will only be recovering the cost of the infrastructure when the organisations pay up their premium for the 60-year lease.

“We will not be recovering the cost of the land. Whatever you pay is only enough to cover the cost of earthworks, roads and the utility works.

“In addition, the organisations are not required to submit planning permission because the area has already gone through the planning process, ” he said.

Chow added that the organisations just needed to submit their building plans to Seberang Prai City Council (MBSP) for approval.

“The organisations must submit the building plans within two years and build their houses of worship within five years.

“If they fail to do so, the offer will be withdrawn and the organisations cannot keep the land as a land bank, ” he said.

Chow said this initiative was implemented to address the issue of places of worship being built before obtaining approval.

MBSP mayor Datuk Rozali Mohamud said the council would conduct a briefing to guide the organisations on the building plan submission process soon.

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