Residents of fishing village want surau torn down

KOTA TINGGI - Residents of a fishing village near a resort in Tanjung Sedili Besar here are agreeable to a state government's decision to demolish the controversial surau.

Many of those interviewed said that it was only the right thing to do after what the resort owner - a Singaporean Muslim with Malaysian PR status - had done to the religion.

"The owner has violated Islamic laws by allowing followers of other faiths to conduct their rituals in the surau," said father-of-four Tengku Jaafar Tengku Em­bong, 45.

Tengku Jaafar, who is a fourth generation of a family of fishermen, said the owner should have known better.

Another fisherman Roslan Ismail, 52, said the surau must be torn down as a lesson for all.

"It did not matter to us whether the owner has spent a lot to build the surau as the kiblat (the di­­­­rec­tion of Kaabah) was wrong," he said.

Sembayong/Sedili Besar village head Shikh Kassim Islam said the incident had angered the villagers since it came to light last weekend.

"We did not know how long such activities have been going on.

"We only knew about it after several villagers heard chantings coming from the surau," he said.

On another matter, some 100 villagers and members from non-governmental organisations staged a peaceful protest outside the mosque to show their support for its demolition.

The protest began after Friday prayers and dispersed about 15 minutes later where protesters held banners with words such as "outsiders should leave Johor and Malaysia" while shouting "roboh, roboh" (tear it down).

A representative from the group, Johor Perkasa president Samat Atan, demanded the owners apologise to all Muslims.

He urged the Home Ministry to revoke the Malaysian PR status of the resort owner.

The 45-year-old was released on police bail yesterday after he was remanded for four days.

Meanwhile, police issued a statement that a cabin storing old and used items at Tanjung Sutera Resort, Sedili Besar was on fire early yesterday.

The statement said the fire was believed to have started from a short-circuit and initial investigation showed that there were no criminal elements involved.