KANGAR • The Perlis state government has barred non-Muslims from placing their prayer altars along the walkways of some flats, a decision which has not gone down well with the Chinese component party of the ruling coalition.
Datuk Chua Tee Yong, chairman of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), said religious, cultural and traditional practices of all races must be respected as Malaysia is a multiracial country, The Star reported.
"We feel that any directive or measures taken by the administrative body must take into account the people's feelings and society's perception. We regret that such a controversy has happened when the Lunar New Year celebration is just around the corner," he said in a statement on Thursday.
It was reported that several households at the Seri Sena Flats in Kangar had received notices from the state housing department, telling them to remove their altars within a week. The notices were issued on Jan 12. There are two blocks there comprising 480 units.
According to Guang Ming Daily, the lease for their units would be terminated if residents failed to do so within the stipulated time. It also stated that the lease agreement banned residents from placing their belongings outside their units.
State MCA secretary Lam Pak Sam said the Chinese community had been placing Jade Emperor altars along the corridor for prayers all this while.
"Hindus also place their altars there. We support any move to clean up the corridors. As long as the size and height of the altars are reasonable, it should not be an issue."
Religious and race issues are sensitive topics in Muslim-majority Malaysia where non-Muslims have lamented a lack of religious freedom in the country.