Govt sets up joint ministerial panel for issues concerning non-Muslim houses of worship

KUALA LUMPUR: A joint committee at the federal level has been formed to look into issues involving non-Muslim houses of worship in the country, says National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique (pic).

The setting up of the committee came following the controversial demolition of a Hindu temple in Kedah by the Alor Setar City Council on Dec 1.

"On the question involving Kedah, I have discussed the matter with the Housing and Local Government Minister to set up a committee on non-Muslim houses of worship in areas under the local councils which will also involve the National Unity Ministry.

"This is to determine between registered and non-registered non-Muslim houses of worship and the follow-up action based on law to be taken by the respective state governments and local councils," she said when answering a question raised by Cha Kee Chin (PH-Rasah) in Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (Dec 8).

The Sri Raja Muniswarar Temple in Taman Bersatu, Kuala Kedah, believed to be over 50 years old, is the second temple to be torn down in Kedah in the last six months.

In July, the council tore down a century-old shrine in Jalan Keretapi, which was a historical site used by Indian labourers working on the Malayan railway during the colonial days but was later turned into a motorcycle parking lot.

On a separate matter, Halimah said 51,380 entries of feedback and 510,000 entries of data were received to help draft the National Unity Action Plan (PTPN) for 2021-2025.

"The feedback and input were received from members of the public, non-governmental organisations and civil servants for PTPN, which is based on the five principles of the Rukunegara," she said.

She added that PTPN, which aims to foster and strengthen unity among Malaysians, is at the final stage of completion and is expected to be unveiled early next year.

To a question by Abdul Latiff Abdul Rahman (PAS-Kuala Krai), Halimah said the ministry will table a Bill to rebrand the Rukun Tetangga (Neighbourhood Watch) next year.

She said there are currently 8,274 Rukun Tetangga Areas nationwide with 59 more to be set up next year.

"RM50mil has been allocated under Budget 2021 for the Rukun Tetangga Areas, with each to be given RM6,000," she said.

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