THE state authorities have never demolished any places of worship built illegally on government land.
Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Mohd Naroden Majis said these places of worship include Chinese temples and surau.
They number 43, with 16 in the Kuching Division, six each in Limbang and Bintulu Divisions, five in Sri Aman Division, four each in Miri and Mukah Divisions and one each in Samarahan and Betong Divisions.
“If the land is needed for public development, the state government will first hold a dialogue with the management committee of the surau or temple involved to discuss relocation,’’ Mohd Naroden told Voon Lee Shan (DAP-Batu Lintang) during question time.
Citing an example, he said the Chinese temple at Jalan Petanak here had agreed to be relocated to a new site approved by the government.
He said the management of a surau in the Kampung Similajau Bau squatter area in Bintulu had also agreed to relocate to a new site to make way for a Sabah-Sarawak gas pipeline project.
“This clearly demonstrates that the government is sensitive when dealing with issues related to places of worship,’’ he added.
However, Mohd Naroden advised any party planning to set up worship centres to get approval from the relevant authorities.
Meanwhile, State Environment and Public Health Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh told Vincent Goh Chung Siong (BN-Pelawan) that the authorities had yet to determine the cause of the fire which destroyed part of the Bukit Lima forest reserve in Sibu three months ago.
He added that it might have been caused by cigarette butts or arson.