AMPANG Jajar is set to be a unique place to visit when 35 religious organisations set up their houses of worship there within the next five years.
The Penang government has spent RM9.2 million to get ready the basic infrastructure for the development of the land for RIBI (places of worship other than Islam) purposes.
The 21-acre land, worth RM17.6 million, has been equipped with proper roads and street lights; and 9.4 acres of land out of the 21 acres have been allocated for RIBI.
The remaining acres of land have been used for utilities and access facilities.
The site houses 31 RIBI plots and two utility plots of land.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said this could be the first location in Malaysia to house so many places of worship in one area.
“More than 30 houses of worship are set to be built there. We hope that they can exist harmoniously.
“It may also attract visitors who would like to witness this unique area,” Chow said after presenting the letters of intent to the 35 successful organisations during a ceremony at the Butterworth Digital Library today.
Chow said the state would provide a 50% discount on the lease rate for the land.
“We will only be recovering the cost for the infrastructure when the organisations pay up their premium for the 60-year lease.
“We will not be recovering the cost of the land. Whatever you pay is only enough to cover the cost of the earthwork, roads and the utility plans.
“In addition, the organisations are not required to submit the planning permission because the area has already gone through the planning process,” Chow said.
He said the organisations just need to submit their building plans to the Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) for approval.
“The religious organisation will have to pay its lease within five years to be given the registerable lease for 60 years and for the title to be issued under the name of the religious organisation.
“The organisation must submit the building plan to MBSP within two years and build the house of worship within five years; failing which the offer will be withdrawn.
“The organisations cannot keep the land as a land bank,” Chow said.
He said this initiative was implemented to address the issues of places of worship being built before obtaining approval.
“This initiative may not solve the issues totally, but it is very much welcomed,” Chow said.
Chow said the state and Federal Constitutions provide that Islam is the religion of the country, and other religions could be practised in peace and harmony.
MBSP mayor Datuk Rozali Mohamud said the council would conduct a briefing for the organisations to guide them on the building plan submission process soon.
Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng said the state government cares for the people.
“The state had given away a land of very high value in Scotland Road for the building of the Penang Syariah Court Complex in the past.
“This shows that the Penang government cares for all,” Lim said.
Penang Local Government, Housing, Town and Country Planning Commitee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said the Penang government had allocated 52 plots of land (11 on the island and 41 on the mainland) for RIBI purposes from 2008 until today.
“Meanwhile, funds from the RIBI Fund have been disbursed to 165 RIBI since 2016.
“A total of RM6,775,484.44 has been utilised to assist RIBI, in relation to upgrading and building works, over the years,” he said.
Also present were state executive council (exco) members Phee Boon Poh and Soon Lip Chee, Bagan Dalam assemblyman M. Satees, Penang Chief Minister Incorporated deputy general manager S. Bharathi and former state exco member Datuk Lim Hock Seng.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Nur Afiqah Zainudi
Video by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi