Evictions: Penang Bishop’s office issues statement

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Rev Michael Thoo has released a press state statement from the office of the Penang Bishop. Here is the statement in full:

In response to recent and current newspaper reports on the “eviction exercise” of’ 14 houses within the grounds of the Church of St. Francis Xavier, Penang Road, 10000 Georgetown, Penang the church wishes to clarify as follows:

– There are 14 semi-concrete pre-war houses within the grounds of the Church of St. Francis, Penang Road, George Town, Penang. The houses are old and have no architectural value.

– Other buildings on the land are the St Joseph’s Home for orphans and children from broken homes, the Learning Centre for children with learning disabilities and the “Lighthouse” which provides free food for the needy and school buildings. These social welfare and charitable organisations are run and/or supported by the church.

– Twelve of the houses are occupied by monthly tenants paying nominal monthly rentals between RM60 to RM200. It is not true that all the tenants have not been paying the monthly rentals for the last 36 months as ieported in the issue of The Catholic Herald dated 31 May 2009 and The Star dated 2 June 2009;

– Two houses are presently empty.

– Unfortunately, one of the two tenants who vacated her house (No. 52-L, Penang Road, Penang) proceeded to remove the zinc and timber roof truss from the house thus creating a potential hazard.

When church’s workers started removing the plywood wall of the house to prevent the potential danger of the unstable wall from collapsing, the MPPP acted rightfully in requesting the church to stop work. The church regrets this inadvertent violation of the law. That house is infested by termites and is in danger of imminent collapse.

– The church has no record of the residents being there for four generations as reported. Some of the residents had moved out in the past and new tenants had moved in.

– The church intends to use the said 14 houses after refurbishment for its religious, welfiare and charitable purposes as it is doing now.

– The refurbishment of the houses will be done in accordance with Unesco and local council guidelines, regulations and by-laws.

– The church has no intention to sell the land to the Cititel Hotel group or to embark on a “property development project” as reported. Consequently, all such reports are baseless and mischievous.

– The church is mindful of the economic plight of some of the residents. It is for this reason that the church has decided to give them ample notice of two years to deliver vacant possession of the houses occupied by them. In addition, the church has also decided to give them an “ex-gratia” payment of RM10,000 per household in order to assist them to relocate. No rentals will be collected from the residents during these two years from 1 June 2008 till 31 May 2010.

Dated the 5th day of June, 2OO9.

Signed

Rev Michael Thoo
from the office of the Rt Rev Antony Selvayanagam,
The Titular Roman Catholic Bishop of Penang

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ttc

Hmm, all can see no creatively decisive decision has been cooked up yet. 😐 Who knows, perchance it’s because the four deadly torchbearer spirits of Sisters Gaetau, Appolinaire and Gregoire and RM Mathilde Raclot have declined to go anywhere near the bewildering Bishop-entity. The 🙂 GLB says the confused Bishop-entity should go sit down calmly somewhere to reflectively ponder meditatively for a holistically cogitative output. Perchance good 8) God or kind 🙂 Jesus will look down and give the confused Bishop-entity a helping hand by hurling forth a lightning strike righteous answer out of the blue yonder like one of… Read more »

wira

Please don’t just do it the Christian way.
It’s better if the leadership could do it Christ’s way.

The second greatest commandant decreed by Christ was “to love your neighbour as yourself.”
Everyone knows it’s difficult but the solution to this problem must be close to what Christ in his unfailing love would do.

Glenn

Now what? After all the rights and wrongs..the problems… what’s the solution? I would propose Bishop go back to the church to get its consent. Bishop, to get the approval of the church over the next step of action. To get the support of the whole church, to seek advice, feedback from the church, on both sides. This is not only a matter of right or wrong, it has already become a measurement of how a christian would deal with such a situation. All throughout my growing years I have heard the Bishop and many other leaders of the church… Read more »

greg

greg,

It’s you who has a “one track, narrow mind”.

There is always two sides to the same coin and you only see your side of the story.

With such a narrow mind you are definitely not going to get to the truth of the matter.

While you prefer to use the Roman emperor Constantine as your guide, I prefer to use the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels as my guide.

wira

The only “rich building” shown in the video of the church compound is that of the church.

The body of Christ obviously has its priority wrong !

greg

I was making a point Jerry. Sadly u did not get it. Sadly u have prevailed to have a one track, narrow mind. There is always to sides of the same coin. It looks like you dwell only on a few lines of what i have said and hit on it instead of reading the whole story and trying to figure the point there. With such a mind it is difficult already to discuss further. With this basic lacking how are people going to trust your interpretation?? Perhaps of those who have a feather would flock with you. Perhaps you… Read more »

Jerry

greg,

All can see how you make an utter mockery of the gospel!

wira

One other thing, if the church wanted the car park collections, they could have subcontract the car park out to some independent collectors.

The rent the tenants pay does not include the church car park, right ?

wira

How about posting some photos here to show how “rich” those tenants are ?
Be honest about what you take as God is watching. 🙂

greg

The tenants took advantage of the generosity of the church, a widow (does not earn money but survives on donations therefor ‘poor’), being able to live there for generations some for free and robbed the church land of its rights (the church home) claiming it for their own. The church has turned to its other cheek and gave them compensation which it can afford (Rm140,0000 or so in total – pls check) and said they would help them to relocate. They make show by saying they are very poor and got no where else to go and got no income… Read more »

Jerry

Maybe we could take time to have a reflection from the Gospel:

Mark 12:40

“They take advantage of widows and rob them of their homes, and then make a show of saying long prayers. Their punishment will be all the worse!”.

wira

How do you think Christ would have acted if he was faced with such a situation ?

Would he have sued for the land or would he instead reach out for the salvation of the souls of those who took advantage of the church ?

greg

hahaha!!!! No i am not. perhaps he should. Well u cant expect perfection u know, it is run by humans, neither you should condemn or judge based on some incident, the entire church. As much as the number of failures u can see there is also even more greatness in the church. Let us embrace that at the same time try to fix the problems. Perhaps this issue the Bishop has learn something and also all of us too, on how to address some types of issues. Lets not condemn anymore, both ways. U have rest your case. Peace 🙂

Jerry

Your long comments sound very much like a Sunday mass sermon!

Jerry

The answer to the current situation i.e. the problem between the church and it’s tenants is for the Bishop to come down from his ivory tower to meet the residents and seek an amicable solution. The ball is in his court.

Was it the right thing for the Bishop to communicate with them via lawyers? Or should he have taken a more humane approach like coming down from “heaven” to meet them?

It looks like you are taking this opportunity to defend the many failings of the Catholic church today. Do you happen to be a Catholic priest?

greg

There is no agreeing to this or not but a fact which you are wrong. The early church did go mobile and you know why? Because for 325 years till the council of Nicaea and when Emperor Constantine embraced the presence of Christianity, they were persecuted. So when one gets persecuted of course one wont see buildings and so on. And also due to this mobility there arised many gnostic teachings and writings which became deviant so much so at that council, a stronger institution was formed to INSTITUTE Christ teachings and it is only THEN the bible was born.… Read more »

Jerry

Greg,

Whether you agree with me or not, we have to go back to the early church for guidance. The church functioned more like a mobile church spreading their influence to every village they visited. They didn’t need large buildings as churches because theirs was a church of values and principles and not buildings.

You divorce christianity from daily life whereas the early church didn’t.

Jerry

Greg,

As christians we must refer to the bible for guidance. Moreover it is not the clergy who have a monopoly of the bible. It is for all people.

Do the bible quotes hurt you because you feel you and the church have not lived up to the teachings of Jesus? As christians we must ensure we do not qualify ourselves as “the cursed” in Matt 25:41

greg

Well i cant help it. Hopefully this would be my last comment now. Ann – i do not know you. I do not intend to spike you. You can keep your other check because i did not ask nor intend to attack you on the other. It is just a (yes) cynical question to you asking you to give it a thought. Jerry (not u alonelah – for all to hear out too) despite our different views. Yes the church has to be like what u said. However since it is a massive institution (if it is not then what… Read more »

MH

Jerry,
Good on you. Keep up the good works. Everybody has own ways of helping the poor…

BTW, I consider my family average but we don’t have Astro as to us it is a luxury.

God bless.

Jerry

annabrella,

Excellent!

Your words are so “incisive and cutting!”

SamG,

It’s not about the nitty gritty details about this particular case but the general trend and focus of the church today. Do we want it to evolve into a “Pharisee” like, cold “massive institution” or would we want it to be a religion that gives importance to the values that Jesus and the Apostles espoused i.e. justice, truth, righteousness, mercy and compassion.

anna brella

“Ann Brella do you have a house for rent. I want to come stay there for ever ….perhaps several of my future generations would like to stay there as well. Later i claim it for myself. Ok??” greg: Hypothesising on what you have said to me here, I suppose were I to be wearing the shoes of the Bishop or even that of a Christ-ian, I guess having you as a sitting tenant not paying rent and trying to take over both possession and legal title of my property, would have had me squarely caught between that proverbial rock and… Read more »

SamG

Jerry
I wished you had done your homework before shooooting your mouth! I found out that a couple of the tenants are using the Church grounds for car parking. If you visit one of the watering holes in that area, these 2 guys will charge you minimum RM5 to park your car on the land belonging to the church.
That is the main reason why they don’t want the church to take back the land! Talking to the people around there, it is a CASH COW for some of the tenants there…

Jerry

Greg, I said that a form 5 student can read the 4 books of the Gospel in a weekend. I didn’t say they have to take over preaching the Gospel. You seem to have a problem understanding simple English. Your comments are filled with grammatical errors. The point we are trying to make is if the Bishop did the right thing, such as meeting with the tenants, all this would not have happened. As Racheljanz said, “Now it’s all about damage control and how much they can get away with!” At this juncture, the best thing to do to resolve… Read more »

anna brella

Annonyed: I answer your questions put to me (and simultaneously to Jerry) as follows: 1. “shouldn’t a true Christian help more poor, so these residents here should move their butt out and let the Church develop the land to help more poor (like buidling an Old Folks Home, a Home for Homeless People).NOw there only 10 families-how many people? Less than 50.IF they move out and the place for others, Church can help more than 50 poor (really poor) people.” The way I see it (which happens to coincide with the viewpoint of that star trekking Captain Kirk of the… Read more »