BESUT: Not many people visit the site where the controversial deviationist sect Sky Kingdom once stood. The gleaming structures are all gone.
Even the laterite road leading to the commune seems deserted except for the occasional villager on a motorcycle.
About 24 ex-followers of the sect are said to be still living there but there are no signs of adults, except for some elderly women at a makeshift stall, which is closed for the month of Ramadan.
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Children play at the commune and are oblivious of the surroundings.
They are however cautious and refuse to answer questions by strangers about Ayah Pin the former leader of the sect.
“Gawie tek fehame” (I don’t know) the children reply in Kelantanese, before hiding between wooden pillars of an elevated retreat site at the commune.
The Star visited the commune after a Malay tabloid front-paged a report on Monday saying that there was an attempt to revive the sect by an ex-police officer.
A 45-year-old female follower when met at the commune scoffed at the report, alleging that there was a hidden agenda.
“A few days ago two young men were here to talk to us. They claimed to be students and also took a lot of pictures.
“We never expected that the pictures were for print. How can we trust anyone,” she said.
“I don’t know what their motive was but they should not have taken our goodwill in welcoming them for granted,” she added.
She said there was round-the-clock police surveillance together with frequent visits from other enforcement agencies.
“How can there be an attempt to revive (the commune)? You can see for yourself,” she said.
On Tuesday, the Terengganu Government dismissed any possibility of the defunct Sky Kingdom being revived.
State Islam Hadhari and Welfare Committee chairman Datuk Rosol Wahid said the state government and The National Security Division of the Prime Minister’s Department had also not received any such report.
The Sky Kingdom religious sect led by Ariffin Mohamad, better known as Ayah Pin, with almost 150 followers including foreigners, established their commune in Kampung Batu 13, Hulu Besut.
The commune, built on land bordered by rubber trees and surrounded by hills, used to house giant structures of a teapot, vase, umbrella, concrete boat and a “palace”.
The Ayah Pin sect was believed to have been established over a decade ago with the structures costing more than RM1mil.
Ayah Pin in his sermons claimed the Sky Kingdom had given him the power and right to unite people of the “whole world” irrespective of their religion.
In June last year, Ayah Pin’s deviationist teachings came to an end when authorities raided the commune and detained 21 followers. Ayah Pin himself escaped the dragnet.
A month later, mobs donning ski masks, skullcaps, white flowing robes as well as all-black attire went on a rampage destroying the structures and setting fire to five vehicles at the commune.
Ayah Pin has yet to be detected since then.