Recently, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor announced that churches currently operating out of shop lots in the Federal Territories may soon see their commercial land titles converted to religious land.
Such an announcement is greatly welcomed by the Christian community due to the ever-present dispute over the location of houses of worship.
Furthermore, this is a progressive step as it has been very difficult for Christians to purchase land and build churches due to the cumbersome process and red tape associated with it
All is not a bed of roses as The Malaysian Insider reported that Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said “If a church were to relocate its premises, the new owners will not be able to use the premises for anything else but worship,”
Now we can clearly see the strings attached to such a sweet deal. Basically, if the commercial land titles are converted to religious land, it would be extremely difficult for churches to sell the land if they intend to move someplace else
Why is it necessary to have such strings attached? Why can’t the status of the land be changeable depending on the intended use?
If a church decides to sell their land (with the status of a religious land), and a company decides to purchase it for commercial use, it is only reasonable that the land title should be able to be converted back to commercial
It is of utmost importance that the law is flexible enough in order that it does not cause hardship to the people!
If the Federal Territories is truly sincere about helping the churches, it would be wise to have consultations with the umbrella body of churches in Malaysia [i.e. The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM)] before finalising any changes