Thursday August 9, 2012
Religious group in death ritual not a cult, says MBA
By DERRICK VINESH, TAN SIN CHOW and KOW KWAN YEE
GEORGE TOWN: The religious organisation at the centre of police investigation following the death of a child in a 20-hour ritual is registered with the Malaysian Buddhist Association (MBA).
MBA assistant secretary Lim Tien Phong said the Taiwan-based organisation Di Cang Chan Si was not a cult and had been registered with the association for over 20 years and had over 10,000 devotees from various countries including in Singapore, China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan.
“All organisations registered with us subscribe to proper Buddhist teachings,” he said, adding that Di Cang Chan Si had branches in Kedah, Selangor and Johor.
The child, aged two years and nine months, died of suffocation in what is believed to be a bizarre ritual in which seven family members and their Indonesian maid piled up on her.
The eight, aged between 16 and 67, have been detained by the police.
The child, covered in a blanket, was found lying face down under the human pile comprising her parents, grandmother, uncle, aunt, two cousins and the maid.
A family member claimed that one of them had seen a spirit trying to “grab” the girl, prompting them to form a heap on top of her to protect her.
Lim said he was informed by the organisation that the child’s aunt, a teacher in her 40s, had been seen shouting outside the house where the ritual took place and had behaved strangely prior to the incident.
Meanwhile, the teacher’s younger brother, who wished to be known only as Chua, 38, said his eldest sister had not been herself following their father’s death.
“I am sure my brother and sister-in-law had no intention of harming their daughter as they loved her very much.
“I believe that they could have been ‘brainwashed’ by my sister. She had told them many times that evil spirits were coming to claim their lives,” said the businessman.
Chua alerted police on Sunday after the family chased him away when he stopped by the house to invite them for dinner.
Central Seberang Prai OCPD Asst Comm Azman Abd Lah said the police were analysing a religious book found in the suspects’ house to determine if it had any connection with the incident.
“We are also investigating a meditation-based centre on the island to find out more about its practices and teachings, as well as whether it had anything to do with this case.”
The child’s body has yet to be claimed from the Seberang Jaya Hospital mortuary.