KUANTAN, MALAYSIA – The Malaysian government has agreed to withdraw its planned acquisition of Church land in Kuantan, the head of the Church legal team announced.

Dato Bastian Vendargon told a large group of parishioners from St Thomas Church in Kuantan, led by their parish priest Fr Mitchel Anthony Joseph, of the development on Jan 11.

The group was at the Kuantan High Court for the hearing of the judicial review application by the Church against government acquisition of land on which St Thomas Secondary School is located.

This decision was recorded in court “by consent of all parties involved”, said Mr Benedict Wong, another member of the Church’s legal team.

The proposed acquisition case began after the Church received a notice from the Government Land Office.

The Church’s application for a judicial review was filed on Sept 6 and the case was first fixed for hearing on Sept 19. It was adjourned to Sept 24 and further adjourned to Nov 2 when it was finally heard in chambers.

The judge reserved judgment until Nov 16 when she granted leave to the Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur to commence proceedings for a judicial review.

According to Dato Bastion, this case brought up by the Church has created history as this was the first time government acquisition of land has been challenged based on unconstitutionality, in this case the infringement of the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

Fr Mitchel expressed his thanks to the legal team representing the Church, the Catholic community for their solidarity, and many other Christian groups and well-wishers for their prayers and support. n HERALD


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