The leader of the deviationist cult Sky Kingdom remains defiant, saying he had done nothing wrong and refusing to disband the group.
Ariffin Mohamad, 65, also known as Ayah Pin, eluded arrest when state Religious Department officers raided the sect‘s commune in Kampung Batu 13, here on Saturday.
Twenty-one of his followers, including a police inspector and the drummer of rock group Def Gab-C, were arrested.
Ayah Pin said he had no reason to hide from the raiding team.
“I saw them coming; they did not see me. Can I be faulted for this?” he said at a coffee-shop in the commune yesterday.
Seated cross-legged behind the cashier’s counter, sipping coffee and puffing on a cigarette, Ayah Pin said he would not abandon his beliefs even though the state fatwa committee had outlawed the sect.
“I won’t run away as I have to look after my family (he has four wives) and children, as well as the car,” he added.
He said his followers would commence legal action over the arrest, claiming it had been illegally carried out.
Looking relaxed and in a chatty mood, several of his followers hung around the coffee-shop, also discussing the raid.
The coffee-shop, which has an Astro satellite TV dish, has the only telephone in the commune.
Many of the followers expect the authorities to conduct more raids on the commune.
Drummer Rosli Abdul Samad, 37, who is also the commune’s liaison officer, said Saturday was the first time that the commune had been raided. He has been a follower of the sect for 12 years.
He said he had arrived here in a taxi from Kuala Lumpur with three others when police stopped them at a roadblock about 1km from the commune.
“They took me to the commune in a four-wheel drive, and I noticed police conducting a house-to-house search for Ayah Pin and others,” he said.
The commune has 34 wooden houses occupied by about 120 followers.
The place has become quiet and was devoid of visitors following the seven-hour raid.
Not a single visitor was seen along the tiled pathway embellished with stylish arches leading to the sect’s symbols – a giant teapot, vase and umbrella.
The palace-shaped dewan perhimpunan (assembly hall) was empty, as were a wakaf, Rumah Bulat (a building to receive visitors) and Rumah Nasyid, which was used for chanting sessions.
New Zealander Judith Lilian McDonald, 54, was resting when enforcement personnel came knocking on her door.
“I was surprised as to why they didn’t pick me up, although they quizzed me about my presence in the commune,” she said.
Ismail Mohd, 49, another of those detained, described the raid as biasa (normal).
“We did not kick up a fuss as we are peace-loving people. We are willing to be detained again,” he added.
Meanwhile, villagers who stay nearby, such as durian seller Ismail Yaakob, 50, welcomed the raid, saying it should have been done a long time ago.