September 17, 2010
The Christians in the Temiar village of Pos Pasik, about 70 km northeast of Gua Musang Kelantan, have been told by the Department of Orang Asli Affairs (JHEOA) that they have no permission to build a church on their land.
On 20 May 2010, the village head wrote to the Director-General of the JHEOA to inform him of their plan to build the church in their village, half of whom have converted to Christianity in recent years.
However, on 9 August 2010, the Deputy Director-General, writing on behalf of the D-G, replied that their “application” to build the church had been rejected and the community was asked to stop work on the building immediately.
The Orang Asli are not happy with this answer as they did not seek permission from the JHEOA. They merely exercised courtesy to inform them of their plans. The Orang Asli of Pos Pasik consider it their right to build such a structure on their land, in accordance with the Constitution.
The lawyer representing the Temiar headman has recently written to the D-G informing him that the department’s permission was not being sought. He also sought the reasons for the rejection of the church building.
If the church is demolished or stopped, it will be the second Orang Asli church in the state of Kelantan (and no less than 5 in the peninsular altogether) that have been demolished by the authorities on the basis of various excuses, including that the Orang Asli do not have rights to the land concerned.
But it is evident that the issue is religion-related as other structures, including suraus, have been build on such lands without any issue.
But as land is a state matter, the Temiars of Pos Pasik are seeking the intervention of the Menteri Besar of Kelantan in this matter.
For further details, please contact: Pastor Moses Soo – 012 3255678
Pos Pasik is situated about 70 km northeast of Guas Musang in Kelantan. It is in forested area at the foot of the Titiwangsa Range. The post includes the villages of Kg Pasik, Kg Ayung, Kg Bayor and Kg Serai.
The Orang Asli here are of the Temiar ethnic group with a few being Jahai. It is situated on both sides of Sungei Jenera, with a population of over 600. The villagers are connected to the main road at Meranto by a logging track. Pos Pasik is only reachable in a proper 4 wheel-drive vehicle and takes about 2-3 hours of traveling time.
On 3 December 2001, 297 villagers of Pos Pasik were baptized as Christians, including the two Penghulu (headmen). A bamboo church was then built in the old village across the river (Sungei Jenera).
In the late afternoon of 19 December 2004, the Sungei Jenera overflowed its banks, rising to a height of 30 feet above the normal water level of the river. The bamboo houses of the Temiar by the river were all washed away. So too the church. By 2006, many of the villagers shifted to the current side of the river and the bamboo church was relocated there as well.
Currently, a total of 530 villagers of Pos Pasik have converted to Christianity but quite a number have left Pos Pasik to work in other areas.
In 2008, the government provided brick houses and agricultural plots for the communities there. The road has also been improved though it is almost inaccessible during the rainy season.
In late 2009, the Christians requested the pastor from the Gospel to the Poor church to help them build a brick/concrete church since most of their houses are already made of brick. This is to replace the dilapidated bamboo church.
By April 2010, they started clearing the land of rubber trees belonging to one of the villagers. At one of their meetings, it was decided that the headman should update JHEOA of the latest development by informing them through the mail.
Work then began on the church construction. The workers were all Orang Asli volunteers with the necessary materials being raised through church donations.
During this period of construction, they had a lot of uninvited visitors especially those from the religious bodies.
Filed in Nation in Distress