Resort owner tears down surau following Kota Tinggi council notice

Prompt action: A contractor using an excavator to tear down the surau in Sedili Besar, Kota Tinggi in Johor.

KOTA TINGGI - The surau (place of worship) in a resort in Sedili Besar near here that became the centre of controversy recently has been demolished.

The demolition works at the light-yellow and white building began at around 9.30am yesterday.

By 5pm, the structure was just a heap of stones on the ground.

Using an excavator, the demolition works were carried out by five Indonesian workers and a supervisor.

The controversy started after an 85-second video clip showing a group of Singaporean Buddhist tourists conducting meditation activities in the surau was uploaded on YouTube last month.

Supervisor Andy Law said that the resort owner had contacted his boss, who is also his brother, at around noon on Tuesday about the job to immediately tear down the surau.

Law described the owner of the resort as being their regular customer for the past 10 years.

"It is quite ironic as I was the one operating the excavator to clear this plot of land before the surau was built, and now I am the one tearing it down," he said when met by The Star at the location yesterday.

The Kota Tinggi Municipal Council (MDKT) had issued a notice dated Aug 20 instructing the resort owner to tear down the surau in 21 days or risk facing court action.

It is learnt that council president Hasrin Kamal Hashim had informed all the councillors during the full council meeting yesterday that the resort owner had voluntarily demolished the structure.

An official added that the resort owner had decided to tear down the structure and had informed the council about his intention.

"However, we are not sure if he plans to carry out any other development on the plot of land," he said.

He added that the surau had been built without following the proper specifications.

He said that the council president had also instructed officers to carry out checks in a dozen other resorts to ensure that the kiblat signs were pointing in the proper direction.

Meanwhile, Johor police chief Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said that police have completed and handed its investigation reports regarding the issue to the deputy public prosecutor on Aug 20.

The Singaporean resort owner was arrested on Aug 12 and released on police bail after a four-day remand.

The surau incident also led to his Malaysian permanent resident status being revoked by the Govern-ment.