The Penang State EXCO has endorsed the setting up of a Penang Chinese Temple Endowment EXCO Committee(en/cn)

Press Statement By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 9.1.2014.

The Penang State EXCO has endorsed the setting up of a Penang Chinese Temple Endowment EXCO Committee headed by me and comprising EXCO members Chow Kon Yeow, Chong Eng, Danny Law Heng Kiang, Lim Hock Seng and Phee Boon Poh with three preliminary purposes:-

a. Uphold Article 11 of Federal Constitutional that grants the right of freedom to profess and practice his or her religion at Chinese temples;
b. Promote sustainable development and growth of Chinese temples in Penang;
c. Organise the Chinese temples into a structure with certain religious authority to impart advice to the relevant authorities without taking over or affecting the existing management and operations of Chinese temples.

The Penang state government is deeply concerned that UMNO leaders are playing the fires of religious and racial hatred in asking for immediate demolition of illegal religious structures of Mazhu Deity in Pulau Jerejak. In contrast to UMNO’s intolerant stand of seeking immediate demolition, the state government’s policy is to take enforcement action at the suitable time. Such caution is necessary as a full investigation must be conducted, taking into account not just religious sensitivities but also appropriate historical record and relevance to residents living there.

More worrying, is that several reporters in the Chinese press have also taken a similar position and echoed UMNO’s extremist position of immediate demolition of Mazhu religious structures. When enforcement action was taken on 24.12.2013, many living outside Penang thought that the state government was intolerant of religious freedom because they did not know that Pulau Jerejak was uninhabited. There were no reports in the Chinese papers defending the state government’s enforcement action.

The Penang state government is concerned that UMNO’s extremist stand of asking for immediate demolition of illegal religious structures in Pulau Jerejak may be used as a precedent to demand similar action against other Chinese temples or places of religious worship in Penang that have not been approved.

To ensure that these members of the public do not fall into the extremist trap of UMNO that will affect the constitutional rights of freedom of religion of Chinese temples, the Penang state government has decided to take this pro-active approach to handle Chinese temples.

Chinese temples in Penang play a significant role in Penang’s rich traditions and history and is one of the many characteristics that make up a multi-cultural Penang and assisted in George Town being inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage City. A Penang Chinese Temple Endowment Committee may be the forerunner to protect, preserve and promote its legitimate and healthy development.

LIM GUAN ENG

—–Mandarin Version —-

槟州首席部长林冠英于2014年1月9日在乔治市发表声明:

槟州行政议会已经同意成立槟州华人庙宇基金会行政议员委员会,由我主导,成员包括曹观友、章瑛、罗兴强、林峰成及彭文宝。这个委员会成立的宗旨为:
a. 捍卫联邦宪法第11条文赋的宗教自由,即每个人都有权利在华人神庙进行其宗教膜拜。
b. 推广槟城华人神庙的成长与发展。
c. 与特定的宗教机构,结构性地组织华人神庙,在不影响华人神庙现有的管理及操作上,向他们传递有关当局的意见。

槟州政府感到非常担心,巫统领袖正在玩弄宗教及种族仇恨,要求即刻拆除位于木寇山的非法玛祖神像。对比巫统迫不急待地要求当局马上拆除,州政府采取的政策是在适当的时候执法。我们必须小心翼翼,全面进行调查,不但要顾及宗教敏感,也要顾及当时的历史记录及居民。

更让人担心的是,一些华文媒体的记者也用同样的立场,与巫统一唱一和,要我们以极端的方式,尽快拆除玛祖神像。当我们在2013年12月24日执法时,很多居住在槟城以外地区的人民以为州政府无法容忍宗教自由,他们不知道木寇山是无人居住的地方。华文报章也没有在报道中捍卫州政府的执法行动。

槟州政府非法关注巫统的极端立场,他们要求我们马上拆除木寇山的非法神像,这可能会成为他们要求马上对付其它未批准的华人神庙或宗教场所的先例。
为了确保公众不掉入巫统的极端陷阱,进一步影响华人神庙的宪赋宗教自由,槟州政府决定采取积极行动处理华人神庙事务。

华人神庙在槟城丰富的历史传统方面扮演重要的角色,它也是组成文化多元槟城的特征,并促成了乔治市成为联合国科教文组织世界遗产城市的元素之一。槟城华人庙宇基金委员会将保护、维护及推广它的合法及健康的发展。

林冠英

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