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Prayer Alert (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Title: Pahang (modified 2008-5-16)
Description: FYI #44, 2006-04-28 Praying for the States

 


Pahang
Darul Makmur, Abode of Tranquillity

 
Government                Barisan Nasional

Capital                         Kuantan

Royal Capital               Pekan

Sultan                          Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah

Menteri Besar             Dato' Seri Adnan Yaakob

 

Statistics (Malaysia Statistics Dept., 2007)

 

Population 1,483,600 (est.)

Malay 69%, Orang Asli 5% (Semai, Jakun, Semelai, Chewong, Jah Hut, Bateq, Semoq Beri, Temoq), Chinese 16% (Hakka, Cantonese, Kwongsai), Indian 4.6% (Tamil, Indian Muslim, Punjabi), Others 0.7%, Non-citizens 4.7% (Indonesian, etc).

Religious Breakdown (2000) Islam 73.8%, Buddhism 13.7%, Hinduism 4.4%, Tribal 3.4%, Taoism/Confucianism 2.5%, Christianity 1.2%, Others 0.2%, No Religion 0.8%

Incidence of poverty (2007) 4.9% (Hardcore: 1%) 

 

Pahang, the largest state in the Peninsular Malaysia, is the home to Taman Negara (the countrys largest national park) and two famous natural lakes, Tasik Bera and Tasik Chini. The state is also known for its highlands. Genting Highlands, the Las Vegas of Malaysia, is the only legal-based casino on a mountain resort straddling the border of Pahang and Selangor.

 

For many years, tropical timber production is the centre of Pahangs main industry. Tourism remains the state's main earner.

 

Brief History & Political Development

Pahang became an Islamic sultanate under Melaka in 1459. It was then fought over by the Portuguese, the Dutch, Johor, and Aceh for most of the 16th century. After the decline of Aceh in the mid-17th century, Pahang came under the rule of Johor. It became increasingly independent as the Johor central government weakened.  

 

Between 1858 and 1863, Pahang experienced civil war over the expanding ventures in mining and jungle produce. The war ended when the Bendahara (Wan Ahmad), with the support of Pahang chiefs, was proclaimed the new sultan in 1881. When the British administration was extended to Pahang, the sultan was forced to sign a treaty. Pahang eventually came under the control of a British Resident in 1888.

 

The 1892 uprising, led by Abdul Rahman, known as Datuk Bahaman, though represented only a brief setback to the British administration, has come to symbolize the struggles to safeguard Malay tradition, Malay values, and the sense of Malay independence. In 1896, Pahang joined Selangor, Perak, and Negeri Sembilan in the Federated Malay States which evolved into the Federation of Malaya in 1948.

 

Immediately after the 2nd World War in 1945, the Malayan Peoples Anti-Japanese Army took revenge on all those suspected of being Japanese sympathizers and collaborators. The Chinese in Batu Malim, Raub, suffered and many were massacred.  

 

Since 1974, the hereditary monarch has been Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah with most of the executive power resting in the hands of the Menteri Besar of the ruling party, Barisan Nasional.

 

Islamization, Religious Freedom & Rights

Apostasy or murtad (a Muslim renouncing his faith) is a punishable offence according to section 185 of the Administration of the Religion of Islam and the Malay Custom of Pahang Enactment 1982, and Pahang Islamic Family Law Enactment 1987. The penalty is a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 3 years and whipping of no more than 6 strokes. The state has also enacted laws to control and restrict the propagation of non-Islamic religions among the Muslims in 1989. However, these laws have thus far not been enforced.

 

The Syariah law covers a wide range of activities, to outlaw what is considered immoral behavior and unislamic, including religious teachings that are regarded as deviations from the mainstream. In February 2005, 95 deviant groups were identified by the state government. Actions were taken against 73 groups.

 

The sentence handed down by the Pahang Syariah Court in June 2005 caught many by surprise. It was the first time in Malaysian Syariah history Muslims were sentenced to caning for consuming alcohol. Ironically, there were no provisions for the manner of execution with caning. The offenders were also fined RM5000 each.

 

This February, 65 students of a secondary school in Temerloh were disciplined for not wearing the school-approved headscarves. Responding to the incident, the Minister of Education affirmed the public that wearing headscarf was a matter of choice.

 

The trend in recent years, say the observers, not only expresses the religiosity of the state authorities, it also indicates that the religious bureaucracy was taking for granted the constant proclamation of Malaysia being an Islamic country.  Others believe that the authorities are under increasing pressure to follow religious laws as the political parties strive to show their Islamic credentials.

 

Such religious fervour has nevertheless spilled over to the communities of other faiths, even though relationship among all religious groups is generally amicable. The Orang Asli (OA) community seems to be most affected.

 

In September 2003, an OA church building in Kampung Pasu, Temerloh, was demolished by the district Land Office. Following an appeal a lum sum of RM35,000 was given as compensation from the prime minister's office. A new church has since been built but without power supply to this date (2008-5-16). In April 2007, the Temerloh land and district office informed the villagers of its decision not to provide water and eletricity to the church building, on grounds that it was built illegally on state land.  As of May 2008, the lawsuit is still pending (malaysiakini, 2008-5-16).

 

On 1 Oct. 2003, the Sungai Ruai OA Christians in Raub received a notice demanding them to tear down their illegal church or face penalty of RM10,000 fine or one-year imprisonment or both. The Semelai peoples place of worship in Kampung Ganoh, Rompin, was also issued a similar order on 22nd May 2004.

 

In April 2008, the state government announced that it would adopt a liberal approach to matters concerning religion and places of worship. It would also improve the administrative process in application (Star).

 

OA and land

Other than the matters of religious freedom, the OA community also faces long-term contention with the state government on land issues. Intensive harvesting for timber has not only caused an industrial slowdown and major environmental damage, it has also impinged on the livelihood of the OA villagers. Logging companies continue to encroach on their ancestral land.

 

In 2003, a group of OA was arrested for attempting to block logging trucks from entering their land. (It was then reported that they were released on bail, and the logging project was cancelled.) In 2005 the Semoq Beri people had their land encroached upon by another highway project.

 

For many years, the OA community of Kampung Bukit Rok and Kampung Ibam locked in a scuffle with the authorities over logging on their land. They finally won the battle after the recent April meeting with the authorities (2006-04-25, The Star Online).

 

In March 2007, the Semalai people filed a petition at the high court to review the state ordered eviction from an area they claim as their traditional land. The land becane an aboriginal reserve in 1974.

 

Mismanaged tourism development in the famous Tasik Chini has adversely affected both the lake ecosystem and the livelihood of Jakun people. Although the Menteri Besar has vowed to protect the green lung and push for sustainable development, the uncertainty surrounding Orang Asli land ownership has made them vulnerable to exploitation.

 

Social issues & others

Incidents of date rape and consensual sex involving teens have alarmed the state authorities. A total of 38 rape cases reported in the first three months of 2006 was a worrying trend, said Police chief Datuk Ramli Yusoff (2006-04-06, The Star Online). The state capital, Kuantan, registers the highest number of single mothers.  

 

Habitual gambling gravely affects the social and family structures of, especially, the Chinese community. Drug addiction among the youth remains a chronic problem, particularly among those who are under the Felda plantation schemes (2005-04-08, The Star Online).

 

Although the state government has earlier refuted SUHAKAMs claim that it has neglected the wellbeing of the OA community, the people continue to live in poverty and remain largely uneducated. The latest state government statistics show that more than half of OA students drop out after primary school; 11,825 OA families are listed as hardcore poor and 3,347 as poor (2006-01-26, New Straits Times). Kampung Simpai has the largest Orang Asli settlement in Pahang.

 

Despites its rich natural resources, Pahang has been identified by the Finance Ministry in December 2004 as one of the seven almost bankrupt states due to its high financial deficit. The East Coast Economic Region project is expect to boost growth by 7.5% and wipe out hardcore poverty in the state (2007-9-11, theSun). 

 

The Church

Many churches in Pahang are vernacular in nature, particularly in smaller towns where the majority are of either Presbyterian or Methodist background. There are about 25 churches in the state capital itself, mostly English-speaking, and 10 of which are actively involved in pastors fellowship. Out of this fellowship emerged the Rapha Childrens home, the only Christian-run home in Kuantan. The bigger churches here have an average of 200 or more members.

 

Churches in Pahang have often complained about insufficient manpower, i.e. lack of full time pastors and church workers. The leadership crisis may arise mainly from the priesthood mentality within the Christian community which leads to a general unacceptability of the function of lay leadership. The demand for high living standard may have also caused many to shy from going into fulltime ministries.

 

In general, churches in Pahang, though small in size, are active in evangelism and able to work well together. Two major hindrances in outreaches appear to be the misperception on Christianity being a white mans religion, and deep-rooted idol and ancestral worship.

 

There is certainly room for improvement in discipleship and leadership training, and that members must move out of the comfort zone to make an impact in the community.

 

Pray

 

  1. Gods blessings upon the people that they will know Him who is the source of serenity. 
  2. Good governance & righteousness for the state government. Prioritize public interests without fear or favour.
  3. Greater accountability and better management of the state funds.
  4. Necessary measures to reverse the environmental damage and preserve the lakes biodiversity values, effective management of eco-tourism, and sustainable forestry.
  5. Protect the lifestyle of Orang Asli, education and empowerment, justice and equal treatment, religious freedom, land ownership.
  6. Freedom for those who habitually gamble in the casino, hoping to strike a fortune.
  7. Freedom from all forms of superstitions and witchcraft.
  8. All efforts to combat drug abuse among the youth and successful rehabilitation programs.  
  9. Church: unity; active role in social concerns; paradigm shift within the Christian community; godly and servanthood leadership; more workers of vernacular language and teachers of the Word; relevant youth outreaches and evangelism; urban churches come together to support, empower and train OA leadership and native workers.     

 



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