Court Cases

In the early days of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the battles for the right to pray to the CREATOR were fought in the open with steel swords and justice paid in blood. Xian Sheng said that our history will record similar injustices against people who only wants the right to pray to the CREATOR. However, the battles with swords are replaced with pens, the arena replaced by the Courts and blood replaced by apologies.

The Catalyse

The events that led to the arrest and the trials and tribulation of the followers were triggered by a series of false accusations against Xian Sheng that started in 1979. Xian Sheng was preaching to the Chinese community that was indoctrinated in idolatry practices, ancestral worship, frequented the Chinese temples and believes in mediums and spiritualist.

Xian Sheng reminded the Chinese people that 5,000 years ago, Chinese prayed to Tian or Shangdi before they lost their ways resulting in the Chinese religion and culture replaced by idolatry and superstitious practices. Xian Sheng wanted to change their erroneous ways to once again follow in the religious practices of their early ancestors as demonstrated in one painting of an emperor in the Altar of Heaven in Beijing kneeling down, facing skywards and praying to Shangdi. Xian Sheng’s teachings apparently upset some influential individuals from the political, business or religious institutions.

Date Newspaper and summary of article
30 May 1979 Malayan Thung Pau published an article in Chinese that purported to be an expose on the nefarious activities of an evil religious cult in KL
5 Jun 1979 Kin Kwok Daily News published an article in Chinese alleging that the leader of a certain evil religious cult had seduced countless women
6 Jun 1979 Malayan Thung Pau and Kin Kwok Daily News both published article that claimed that several witness had come forward to reveal shocking and scandalous details of how they were cheated and victimised by this evil cult
20 Jun 1979 Kin Kwok Daily News published that the leader of the said evil cult had gone into hiding
July 1979 The Feminine published a caricature that depicts a pervert man drooling over a closed-eyed, cross-legged voluptuous body of a female follower that were told not to wear brassieres during meditation sessions
23 Oct 1979 Wah Seong Press published an article in Chinese that the leader of this evil cult was residing in Kepong has the surname Chew

Although the abovementioned articles do not refer directly to Mr. Chew or the Baitiangong movement, it was obvious to the public that these articles implicate Xian Sheng as the protagonist in this evil cult due to the indisputable similarities. Xian Sheng sought legal actions in the Courts to counter these libellous articles, but strangely, these legal proceedings were repeatedly postponed in the Malaysian Courts. Xian Sheng’s detractors seemed to be untouchable by the Courts.

The trials and tribulations

In all the previous years anniversary celebrations, we have always held our anniversary dinner in a private venue on a Saturday or Sunday night. On 7 October 1978, it was at Restoran Metro, 6 October 1979 at Restoran Ling Kee, 4 October 1980 at Restoran Hilton and 3 October 1981 at Chinese Assembly Hall. However, as Chinese Assembly Hall cancelled our booking on Saturday, 2 October 1982 at the eleventh hour, we were forced to hold our anniversary dinner at our Salak South Holy Hall, a private reclaimed squatter land, which falls under the jurisdiction of Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), as we could not find another venue large enough to hold over 100 tables on such short notice.

Prior to the celebration of the 6th anniversary in commemoration of the Receiving of the Prayer to pray to the CREATOR to Xian Sheng on 4 October 1976, Xian Sheng has hinted to the followers to remain calm and not to panic on that night.

Date Event
2 Oct 1982 At 8.30pm, the police arrived with their dogs and trucks on the pretext of dispersing an illegal assembly. The truth was that they wanted to detain 28 followers in their list. However, about 200 followers voluntarily offered themselves to be questioned. They were released shortly at the Salak South police station while the 28 followers from the list were transferred to Cheras police station. Only 10 followers including Xian Sheng refused bail and were locked up. For 33 hours in lockup, they were not given any food. However, they had already started their dry fast without food and water for 72 hours.
The 10 persons are:
1) Xian Sheng
2) Bro Cheong Wai Leong
3) Bro Cheong Hoi Peng
4) Bro Woo Kwai Khuen
5) Bro Foo Seong Kwan
6) Bro Wong Koon Poh
7) Bro Lum Kah Sum
8) Bro Lai Choong
9) Bro Chang Fai
10) Bro Loh Chee Yoke
3 Oct 1982 68 more followers were arrested.
4 Oct 1982 68 prosecuted by police for participating in an illegal assembly. DBKL destroyed the stage for the anniversary celebration. They cut down the signboard and then drove their Land Rover over it a few times. The words on the signboard contain the word: Sembayang kepada Tuhan, Pray to the Creator, Baitiangong and 拜天公. Later DBKL put up a signboard to prohibit anyone from entering it and cordoned off the area with barbed wires.
10 Oct 1982 Baitiangong followers were only allowed 3 persons at one time to enter the cordoned off Salak South Holy Hall to pray.
6 Dec 1982 28 followers including Xian Sheng were fined RM150 each for participating in an illegal assembly.
16 Dec 1982 63 followers were fined RM200 each. 5 followers who refused were jailed 2 months.
The 5 female followers are:
1) Sis Lim Mee Loo (Lucy)
2) Sis How Siew Thai
3) Sis How Siew Meng
4) Sis Wong Chow Keng
5) Sis Lai Chee Kwan, a 14-year old student
27 Jan 1983 Xian Sheng was arrested at Taman Maluri at 3.30pm and sent to Pudu Jail. He was imprisoned for 12.5 days. The charges were:
1) Cheated RM300,000 from followers.
2) Cheated several females followers.
3) Instigating the followers to intimidate and assault ex-followers who opposed him.
Xian Sheng fasted for six and a half days before he spewed blood and collapsed. He refused to consume the food in prison as it is for the guilty. As he is not guilty, he refused to eat their food. Finally, the wardens agreed that milk and fruits were brought to him on a daily basis from his home. Xian Sheng drank tap water as water was a gift from God.
8 Feb 1983 Xian Sheng released on bail. Restricted Residence was imposed on Xian Sheng at Sentul and Kepong for 6 months. He was not allowed to leave Sentul and Kepong area and must be at his home from 9.00pm to 6.00am.
11 Mar 1983 Education Service Commission suspended Xian Sheng's teaching job with no pay. Reason: He was charged and fined RM150 in court for participating in an illegal assembly.
7 May 1983 Initiated court proceedings against Chinese Assembly Hall (Dewan Perhimpunan Cina) for breach of contract for 2 Oct 1982.
9 May 1983 Attended High Court on his suspension without pay by the Education Service Commission.
3 Jun 1983 Session Court started hearing the case on Chinese Assembly Hall breach of contract.
25 Aug 1983 Withdrawal of Restricted Residence Enactment Chap 39. The 3 charges proved to be baseless.
28 Oct 1983 Police accused Tiangong Baixian Holy Hall as an unlawful society. Xian Sheng was charged as the leader along with 9 followers as committee members (note: 24th anniversary stated 11 persons. Page 12).
1 Dec 1983 Lawyer for Xian Sheng and Bro Law Boon Eng appeal to Education Service Commission to lift the suspension and reinstate them back to work and to make arrangements for the payment of arrears.
2 Apr 1984 4 followers admit guilty to belonging to unlawful society and was sentenced to 5 months jail or a fine of RM1,000 each.
The 4 who admitted guilty:
1) Bro Chan Soo Khean - Gold Button Holder
2) Bro Liew Peng Kwai - Gold Button Holder
3) Sis Maureen Lee – Elder (note: 24th anniversary mentions Wong Ah Yoke instead of Maureen Lee. Page 12)
4) Bro Chee Thong Yew – Elder
These 4 followers were represented by their lawyer Puvan that told them to state that they were accosted and threatened with assault if they do not rejoin the Baitiangong movement.
3 Apr 1984 Liew Peng Wah pleaded guilty and was fined RM1,000
6 others did not admit guilty:
1) Xian Sheng Chew Choon Ming
2) Bro Too Lim Peng - Water Button Holder
3) Bro Cheong Wai Leong – Elder
4) Bro Wong Sin Lun – Elder
5) Bro Chang Yoong Wah – Elder
6) Bro Law Boon Eng - Elder
11 Jun 1984 68 followers cleared of charges of participating in an illegal assembly, RM200 fine refunded and police records expunged.
15 Jun 1984 18 followers out of the original 28 person including Xian Sheng (4 admitted guilty, 3 withdrew their appeals, 1 went overseas and 1 pass away) were cleared of charges of participating in an illegal assembly, RM150 fine refunded and police records expunged. Xian Sheng was the only person charged. It is possible to have a One-Man illegal assembly?
17 Oct 1984 Magistrate Puan Ho Foong Mei declared Tiangong Baixian Holy Hall is not an unlawful society under the Societies Act, 1966. Tiangong Baixian Holy Hall falls under the protection of Article 11 of the Federal Constitution - Freedom of Religion. The 6 followers, including Xian Sheng were acquitted.

Thus, the trials and tribulations with regards to the charges of belonging to an unlawful society and participating in an illegal assembly came to an end for the followers. However, for the purpose of academic debate, we need to ask ourselves this question. Why is it that in Malaysia, a country where the freedom of religion is enshrined in its Federal Constitution, a group of followers that seeks to organise themselves for the purpose of praying to the CREATOR are denied the opportunity to register their organisation, not once but twice, but would later be charged as an unlawful society; while its followers from the age of 14 years old to 78 years old were charged for participating in an illegal assembly simply because they were attending an anniversary celebration to commemorate the receiving of their Prayer to pray to the CREATOR that was supposed to be held in a private venue, but was mysteriously cancelled at the last minute forcing them to move the celebration to a public area? Was there even a single shred of evidence to justify the harsh actions taken by the enforcers of the law to suggest that this group of followers have done any action that can threaten any general law relating to public order, public health or morality?

Photos from 2 Oct 1982 – 8 Feb 1983

The saga continues for Xian Sheng

Date Event
8 Jan 1985 Xian Sheng and 15 followers sued the 4 former followers for lying that they were accosted and threaten with assaulted if they do not rejoin the Baitiangong movement. Court President Mr. Kang Hwee Ghee dismissed the suit as he claims that words uttered in court are "privilege".
12 Apr 1985 The Deputy Public Prosecutor files a petition of Appeal to reverse the order of Magistrate Puan Ho judgement about unlawful society.
17 - 24 Jul 1985 DBKL officer came to Salak South Holy Hall, demolish and then carted away all construction materials that belong to Baixian Enterprise. Under P.U.(A) 395 essential regulations (Clearance of Squatters), DBKL must give 14 days notice.
23 Aug 1985 Xian Sheng received a letter from Education Service Commission dated 4 Aug 1985 ordering him to report for duty at S.M. Kepong. The letter also served to demote his pay by one grade wef. 5 Aug 1985, reproof him and warn him.
10 Sep 1985 Xian Sheng sent a letter of appeal for arrears of pay.
13 Sep 1985 Xian Sheng sent two letter to appeal against the disciplinary action and transfer order.
13 Sep 1985 Xian Sheng received a letter dated 6 Sep 1985 from Jabatan Pelajaran Selangor ordering him to report for duty at S.M. Puchong Batu 14.
Jan 1986 Assigned to teach at S.M. Bukit Gading, Kuang, Sg. Buloh, Selangor Darul Ehsan.
24 Feb 1986 After being postponed many times, the Session Court President reached a verdict that there was no breach of contract by Chinese Assembly Hall.
20 Aug 1986 High Court judgement - Education Service Commission has the right not to pay the arrears.
28 Mar 1987 The High Court strikes out the petition of appeal by the Deputy Public Prosecutor against the ruling on unlawful society in 1984. The Supreme Court also turned down the request of the DPP leave to appeal. All materials and monies that were seized by police were returned.

It is worth noting that a letter from the Education Service Commission to reproof and warn Xian Sheng, and the fact that he was transferred to three different schools within a short span of six months would have meant the end of an illustrious career as an active labour union activist in the teaching profession for Xian Sheng.

Instead, Xian Sheng was recognised as one of the five recipients of the Outstanding Service Medal Class One Award at the Silver Jubilee celebration of the National Union of Teachers’ Training College, Peninsular Malaysia. The award was presented to him by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohammad on 19 Dec 1987. This was the second time he was recognised by the leaders of our country. The first time was on 31 Aug 1969 when he received the Certificate of Appreciation (Sijil Penghargaan) from the DYMM Yang Di-Pertuan Agong for bravery shown during the 13 May 1969 racial riots where he single-handedly defended many Malay families from being slaughtered by a group of angry Chinese wielding machete (parang).

The continued persecution by press and media

Although the persecution of Xian Sheng using the court of law was unsuccessful, it did not deter the detractors from pursuing another course of action, the character assassination of Xian Sheng via the court of public opinion using the Chinese media.

Date Description
16 May 1987 Periodical Majalah Bintang TV issue no. 69, widely circulated in Singapore and Malaysia publish an article accusing Mr. Chew Xi Ming, inferring to Chew Choon Ming, raped a secondary school girl by the name Xu Wen Hui living in Kepong.
1988 A book entitled "Heaven in Transition: Non-Muslims Religious Innovations and Ethnic Identity in Malaysia" was published with severe accusations against Xian Sheng. The book was written by two academics, Raymond L.M. Lee, an associate professor of anthropology and sociology at University of Malaya and Susan E. Ackerman, who teaches anthropology at Damansara Utama College, PJ.
7 Mar 1989 Xian Sheng appeal to the High Court in the judgement of breach of contract by Chinese Assembly Hall.
8 Jun 1989 The High Court override the Session Court and ordered Chinese Assembly Hall to pay compensation.
29 Jun 1989 Baixian Enterprise sued Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur for destroying and taking building materials at Salak South Holy Hall without prior notice on 17 Jul 1985.
18 - 24 Nov 1989 World Affairs Journal published an article in issue no. 12 in Chinese defaming Xian Sheng of being a cult leader that manipulates female followers to surrender their bodies to him and misused donations to further his own financial interest.
1990 The book entitled "Heaven in Transition: Non-Muslims Religious Innovations and Ethnic Identity in Malaysia" was republished.
20 Aug 1990 Magazine Mister Weekly, issue no. 183 reprinted the charges by police of accusing Xian Sheng of 3 charges:
1) Cheated RM300,000 from followers.
2) Cheated several females followers.
3) Instigating the followers to intimidate and assault ex-followers who opposed him.
and that he was charged in court and dismissed from his post as a teacher for the above reasons
21 Aug 1990 A writ of summon filed in Malaysian Courts on behalf of Xian Sheng against the proprietress and printer of World Affairs Journal.
29 Dec 1990 A suit filed in Malaysian Courts on behalf of the female followers against the proprietress and printer of World Affairs Journal.
1 July 1991 Feminine issue no. 185. An individual name Mr Su Shan He claimed that he was the Jade Emperor and that he was also Tian Gong. He had 16 wives. This article was referring to Xian Sheng by way of innuendo.
18 Mar 1992 New Life Post issue no. 1728 alleged that Mr. Chew provoked the followers of the "Jiu Long Buddha" into a supernatural fight, he had sent one of his followers to intimidate the leader of Jiu Long Buddha into joining his movement, he had lied to his followers, he had kept certain teachings from his followers and he had acted in an absurd and farcical manner with regard to this supernatural confrontation.

The turning point for the Baitiangong movement

The year 1992 marked the turning point for Xian Sheng and the Baitiangong movement. Xian Sheng’s trip to the World Chinese Conference in Mauritius reignited the ongoing defamatory media campaign with more malicious and libellous articles in Malaysia and Singapore that no longer hides behind pseudonyms and subterfuges as in the past. The direct reference to Xian Sheng and his followers and the severity of the charges such as disloyalty to the country, sedition, criminal trespass, brainwashing and even intended world domination would surely mean the imminent arrest of Xian Sheng and his followers by the authorities the moment they step foot on Malaysian soil. However, the lack of the presence of policeman, their dogs and their trucks, was a telltale sign of these false accusations.

Date Event
23 - 26 Apr 1992 Xian Sheng participated in the World Chinese Conference in Mauritius with 6 brothers and sisters. They are:
1) Bro Phuah Kim Yean
2) Bro Chan Gam Fai
3) Bro Low Fook Chiang
4) Sis Yap Ah Yoong (Vera Yap)
5) Sis Chea Phooi Peng
6) Sis Ting Chew Leng
26 Apr and 27 Apr 1992 Nanyang Siang Pau published defamatory articles about Xian Sheng's 3-day Mauritius trip.
26 Apr 1992 Sin Chew Jit Poh published defamatory articles about Xian Sheng's 3-day Mauritius trip.
30 April Sin Min Jit Poh published defamatory articles about Xian Sheng's 3-day Mauritius trip.
4 May 1992 China Press published defamatory articles about Xian Sheng's 3-day Mauritius trip.
11 May 1992 Magazine Mister Weekly, issue no. 272 published an article whereby 1,500 copies out of 1,700 copies was sold in Singapore that accused Xian Sheng of having sex with young girls, involved in illegal religious activities in Malaysia, carried inaccurate reports of Xian Sheng speech in Mauritius in April 1992 that alleged Mr Chew had among other things brainwashed the majority of approximately 30,000 strong Chinese community there, gained improper entry to the residence of the country’s president, attempted to cause animosity between the government of Singapore and Malaysia and causing racial trouble. .

Mauritius Trip. 23 – 25 April 1992

The battles in Court

In late May 1992, Xian Sheng instructed his legal counsel in Singapore to begin legal proceedings as some these articles were also circulated in Singapore.

Date Event
7 Jan 1993 Court case against Life Publishers submitted in Singapore.
9 Feb 1993 Singapore court summons the two authors of "Heaven in Transition". The Court ordered for a total withdrawal of the said academic book, including from Singapore National Library. The Defendants also gave Xian Sheng a manuscript entitled "In Vindication of Baitiangong: A Statement". See In Vindication of Baitiangong.
12 Apr 1993 The publishers of Majalah Bintang TV, Women Publications Sdn Bhd issued a written apology to Xian Sheng, 6 years later, for their periodical issue no. 69.
29 Apr 1993 The Singapore court ordered Life Publishers Berhad to pay Xian Sheng SGD25,000 as compensation for litigation and court fees.
1 May 1993 Singapore, The Straits Times published an article entitled "Businessman who sued magazine for libel awarded $25,000". This article is about Life Publishers Berhad Chief Editor Yau Shee Min, 30, Malaysian and Ng Teng Chee, 51, Singaporean were ordered to pay SGD25,000 damages to Xian Sheng for slander on their magazine Mister Weekly, issue no. 272.
7 Aug 1993 Singapore, The Straits Times published an article entitled "Man wins libel case without going to court". This article is also about Life Publishers Berhad ordered to pay SGD25,000 damages to Xian Sheng for slander on their magazine Mister Weekly, issue no. 272.
21 Feb 1994 The Malaysian court ordered World Affairs Journal to pay RM50,000 as damages for libel to Xian Sheng.
25 Jul 1994 The Malaysian court additionally ordered World Affairs Journal to pay RM101,000 to the female followers who united to sue them.
29 Dec 1994 Life Publication Limited agreed never to publish any defaming articles against Xian Sheng. They were ordered to pay a total of SGD50,000 including earlier SGD25,000.
9 Mar 1995 The General Manager of Life Publisher Berhad, the publication company for Mister Weekly, Feminine and New Life Post signed a clarification statement for their defamatory articles in:
1) Feminine - July 1979 pages 30 and 31
2) Feminine issue no. 185 - 1 July 1991 pages 1 to 4
3) New Life Post issue 1728 - 18 Mar 1992 pages 1,2 and 16
4) Mister Weekly issue no. 183 - 20 Aug 1990 pages 4,5 and 6
5) Mister Weekly issue no. 272 - 11 May 1992 pages 4,5, and 6

Mister Weekly Issue 272

Mister Weekly issue 272

Mister Weekly issue 272

In Vindication of Baitiangong: A Statement and Apology by Raymond Lee and Susan Ackerman. 4 April 1993

Singapore, The Straits Times article on Wister Weekly

Apology from Women Publications Sdn Bhd. 12 April 1993

Apology from Women Publications Sdn Bhd.

Apology from Women Publications Sdn Bhd.

Clarification by General Manager of Life Publisher Berhad. 9 Mar 1995

Clarification by General Manager of Life Publisher Berhad.

Clarification by General Manager of Life Publisher Berhad.

Various Letters

The attempts to register an association with the Registrar of Society (ROS)

Throughout the years, starting from 1979, Xian Sheng has tried to get the Baitiangong movement registered as an association. However, his application was turned down all 4 times he tried. He also made two appeals to the Ministry of Home affairs for registration under Societies Act. However in Singapore, the ROS approves the registration of the society without any hassle. In Malaysia, ROS finally approved the formation of an association in 2002, 2 years after Xian Sheng Returned to the Plane of Nothing.

It is worth noting that that his application was rejected twice, in Apr 1979 and May 1982, before the incident that the police accused Tiangong Baixian Holy Hall as an unlawful society.

Date Attempts
27 Apr 1979 Persatuan Tian Gong Bai Shian Malaysia.
209 Blok P/D, Lorong Kaskas, Taman Cheras. KL.
Rejected 1st time.
29 Aug 1980 Tian Gong Bai Xian Association.
69-B, Lorong 6, Geylang Road, 1439, Singapore.
Approved in Singapore
4 May 1982 Tiangong Baixian Holy Hall.
No. 10, Jalan Prai Dua, Taman Maluri, Cheras. KL.
Rejected 2nd time.
10 May 1983 Tiangong Baixian Holy Hall.
No. 10, Jalan Prai Dua, Taman Maluri, Cheras. KL.
Rejected 3rd time.
18 Sep 1991 Persatuan TianGong Baxian Malaysia.
272B, Jalan Bandar 11, Taman Melawati, 53100, KL.
Rejected 4th time.
12 Mar 2002 Baitiangong Followers Association Malaysia (Persatuan Penganut Baitiangong Malaysia).
No. 7, Jalan 6, Kepong Baru, 52100. KL.
Finally accepted.

The reason why the Baitiangong movement was rejected for 4 times when Xian Sheng was still with us was revealed to him during a Hari Raya Puasa open house hosted by PM Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohammad. Without naming any person or organisation in particular, Dr Mahathir told Xian Sheng that there was resistance to Xian Sheng forming an association. Could it be because of the fear that Xian Sheng would one day turned his spiritual activities to political activities and threaten the livelihood of certain Chinese political personnel?