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Home-owner hosts daily prayers in Penampang against MCO
Published on: Friday, May 22, 2020
By: Sidney Skinner
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Religious paraphernalia put up in the car porch.
PENAMPANG: A Penampang rate-payer and his/ her guests risk legal action for gathering illegally at his/ her home while the Movement Control Order (MCO) is in effect.

The individual has apparently been hosting devotees who wish to pray at a shrine in the front compound of the residence during this period.

Between five to 10 cars have been seen outside the rate-payer’s gate at night, much to the frustration of those living in the vicinity, who fear that these goings-on raise the odds of there being a Coronavirus outbreak in the area.

A Police Department spokesman said the homeowner and the visitors could be deemed to have contravened the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020.

“They can be found to have violated the Regulations subsection on ‘Control of movements and gatherings’,” he said.

The ordinance states that: “No person shall gather or be involved in any gathering within any infected local area whether for religious, sports, recreational, social or cultural purpose”.

“The homeowner could be slapped with a RM 1,000 fine, a six-year jail term, or both, if he/ she is found guilty,” the spokesman said. 

“Those who go to pray at the residence also face the possibility of being penalised likewise, if they are charged in court.”

He said only family – or members of a household who lived at a residence – were allowed to be on the property.

“Outsiders, including the public, are not permitted to gather inside the premises.”

In light of the concerns about Covid-19, the spokesman said the Police would keep the house under surveillance.

“We do not take such matters lightly, especially while the MCO is being implemented. 

“If need be, we will raid the premises and round-up everyone on the grounds.” 

The spokesman was responding to a Penampang resident’s misgivings about people crowding in a house, off Jalan Penampang Lama.

CORRY said visitors gathered almost daily inside the premises at night as the residence operated like a “make-shift temple”.

“There is yellow shrine just inside the front gate and religious paraphernalia has been put up inside the car porch,” she said.

“The devotees begin pulling up in their cars from 7pm onwards, with the prayers and other rituals lasting till between 9pm and 2am.”

She said many of the drivers began double-parking along the housing road, once the space outside the front gate was full.

“The two-way stretch gets narrowed into one lane. A jam sometimes forms because of this, as one has to let the driver coming in the opposite direction pass before proceeding.

“Occasionally, it becomes difficult for us to drive out of our homes at night as the vehicles parked on the stretch obstruct our view

“We risk colliding with approaching vehicles which we cannot see.”

On top of this, she said the noise from the activities, at times, prevented those living nearby from getting a restful sleep

“The chanting becomes louder and more intrusive the later it gets. This is once the ambient noise from our surroundings dies down.”

Corry said a neighbour reported these problems to the Police at one stage.

“Two officers on motorcycles came to check on the situation shortly after this. They spoke briefly to someone at the home and then rode off.

“Those gathered inside did not seem to be bothered by the presence of these officers because none of them drove off afterwards.”

She decried the actions of the homeowner and his/ her guests as endangering the health and well-being of the other residents.

“They are blatantly ignoring the warnings of the Health Ministry to avoid the 3 ‘Cs‘ and are putting everyone living here at risk of contracting Covid-19.

“These activities might result in a new cluster forming here.”

The ‘3Cs,‘ which Corry is referring to, come from a much-seen Ministry video, released during the MCO. 

In the video, the agency calls on the public to refrain from being in “crowded places, confined spaces and close conversation”.

Corry was at a loss to understand how the local authorities could be turning a blind eye to what was happening in the neighbourhood, especially while the pandemic was still a problem.

“How can the rate-payer and his/ her visitors get away with breaking the law?”

The resident provided Hotline with the location of the house in question. This information was forwarded to the Department and the District Council. 

A spokesman for the latter said the Council’s officers would have to verify the complainant’s claims.

“Our officers will monitor the happenings along the housing road and have a word with the homeowner about any irregularities they observe,” he said.

“Should our effort prove in vain, we will work together with the Police to deal with this problem.”


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