On March 23, I received an SMS : "Dear friends, please pray for the Chapel of St. John in Triang, Pahang which the State Government has acquired and would be demolished in June. Please send out SMS to all your friends to invite them to pray at their respective homes at 8:00 pm tonight (for God's intervention). "
I recalled an incident which was reported in the news in August 2008 of a protest by few hundred Triang residents over the acquisition of a school field by the state government. It was inter-related with the acquisition of the chapel land. (See Youtube video on protest)
It aroused my interest and curiosity about this chapel and decided to pay a visit to the Chapel when time permit. Coincidentally, Vincent Lim, Vice-Chairman of the Kuala Lumpur Archdiocesan Chinese Language Apostolate Commission (KL-ACLAC) called me regarding the prayer action... and what can we do to help.
So we decided to go together on Thursday 2-4-2009 for a private fact-finding visit to the Chapel of 83 years history.
I have not been to Triang and have little knowledge of the Chapel. An article written by Charles Hector, a human right advocate and social activist may help us to know more of this chapel. (St. John's Chapel)
Vincent, my wife and I left for Triang at about 9:30 am and arrived at the Chapel at 12:00 noon. Through the arrangement of Monica of Jerantut, we were warmly received by the Chairman of the Chapel council, Mr.Tan (pic below, 4th from left) and parishioners Mr. & Mrs Lim (2nd & 3rd from left) and daughter Anna.
The Chapel is a an old wooded structure built in 1926 and situated on a piece of lease-hold land. It is beautifully landscaped, green and shady, kind of a peace and quiet feeling....
Apparently the land has been acquired by the Perbadanan Kemajuan Ekonomi Pahang. The chapel has been served with a notice to vacate by June 2009. The situation is stated in Charles Hector's article and I do not intend to repeat.
The other parcel of land in front of the chapel has long been acquired by the state and given to a private contractor in a joint venture to develop into a commercial area. We saw many new shop houses under construction. The field that caused the protest is adjacent to the chapel and construction works are also in progress. The same contractor has now claimed the chapel land. We were told all in all, the state has acquired 50 acres of land earmarked for commercial development.
This is a typical case of "bringing development" of the ruling government throughout the country. In doing so, history and interest of people are being suppressed and sacrified. Triang is the only state constituency under the Opposition in Pahang. With a weak opposition, the authority can "do whatever and whichever they like and want".
What can we do? The church does not own the chapel land. We can only appeal to the government or the relevant authority to reconsider the acquisition based on the historical values and the interest of the people.
If this is not enough, we have to storm heaven to ask for the help of the just and merciful Almighty God, to soften the stone-cold, money driven greedy hearts of the contractors, government officials and interest groups.
I have just received an email from Charles Hector regarding the on-going signature campaign. I sincerely invite all of you to support this campaign. This is the least we can do at this moment. Download the form, approach your friends and parishioners to sign on it and post it to the address given.
I am quite sure that the Catholic church hierarchy is also trying their very best and every means to win back the land after more than 30 years (not renewing the lease) ... “The chapel continued to exist happily without any interference from the State for all this time”(Charles Hector)
In the meantime, perhaps we can start another prayer campaign to storm heaven for God's help. During the Holy Week, offer this special intention during Masses and the Way of the Cross. On a personal note, each of us can offer five decades of Rosary per week for this intention........... or form a group by inviting many friends to do the same.
Maintain contact with the parishioners of the Chapel of St. John. We stand together, in solidarity with their cause.
In prayer and in action, we are united.