Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MPs for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 15th August 1980 at 2 p.m.
DAP Forms Save Batu Caves Action Committee’ to join forces with all conservationist and environmentalist groups and forcer, including those in other political parties, to save the 200-million year Malaysian natural heritage and the religious shrine of 200,000 Hindus in Malaysia.
The further six-month extension granted by the Selangor State Government to the two private quarries to continue blasting the Batu Caves must concern all Malaysian who cherish the 200-million-year-old Malaysian natural heritage that is Batu Caves, and the religious shrine of 200,000 Hindus in Malaysia.
The further six-month extension is a breach of faith of the Selangor State Government to the Malaysian people that there would be a stoppage of all quarrying activities at the Batu Caves by 19th June 1980.
When blessing operations continued at the Batu Caves after the 19th June deadline, there were confusion as to whether this was the result of government permission or the defiance of the June 19 deadline of the government by the two quarries.
The present events show that the quarries had operated in close collaboration and co-operation of the State authorities.
This is all the more alarming when the Selangor State Government is aware that this is possible that the roof of Batu Caves might collapse within the six months’ extension to the quarrying period at Batu Caves as admitted by the Selangor Deputy State Secretary, Sabaruddin Chik, to the Malay Mail in its report of 25th July 1980.
Quarrying activities at the Batu Caves must be stopped immediately, especially as the Third Malaysia Plan has proposed an area of about 385 acres of it as a National Monument as a special feature of Malaysia’s landscape of natural beauty for preservation for recreation, tourism, religion and scientific studies.
If Batu Caves collapse during this six month period of extension then there will be no National Monument, but a National Disaster.
Are there not enough national disaster epics in Malaysia already, like the Great Campell Complex Fire, the Port Klang Fire, the Boeing Crash, the near miss of the recent Penang Northam Court Tower Collapse that we must ass to this list the Batu Caves Collapse?
The Batu Caves Collapse will be a great disaster because it would
1. Destroy a 200 million year-old natural heritage;
2. Desecrate the religious shrine of 200,000 Hindus;
3. Threaten the lives and health of the 50,000 residents in and around Batu Caves.
Everyday of boasting is a day of danger to Batu Caves. Immediate action must be taken to put a stop to the quarrying activities, especially as the two quarries, Dolomite Industries which has a lease until 1991, and Kenneison Brothers who has a lease until 2017, have been offered alternative quarrying sites by the State Government.
The Selangor State Government, nor any of the quarries, have not given any cogent of acceptable reason for the further extension of six months, which may convert a National Monument into a National Disaster.
Conservationist and environmentalist groups, like the Batu Caves Protection Society the Malayan Nature Society, the Sahabat Alam (Friends of the Earth) have all striven mightily in the past to bring the issue of Batu Caves to national attention, and rightly, there was rejoining when it was announced earlier this year that all quarrying activities would stop by June 19, 1980.
Now with a further extension of six months’ quarrying, the entire picture has changed, not only because this may be the first of a series of extensions – like the Concorde extensions – but that the Batu Caves may collapse during any time during the next six months. The fruits of success of preserving Batu Caves so near within the reach of the Batu Caves battlers may just elude everyone’s grasp any moment now.
This makes renewed action imperative and urgent. The battle to save Batu Caves must be counted in terms of days.
The DAP has decided to from a “Save Batu Caves Action Committee” to make up our contribution to this national campaign to save a 200 million year old Malaysian natural heritage and the religious shrine of 200,000 Hindus. Batu Caves is not a political issue, but a national issue, and as such, we are prepared to work closely not only with all conservationist and environmentalist groups, but also with groups in political parties, whether in Barisan National or otherwise, who are equally concerned about the need for concerted action to save Batu Caves.
In view of the urgency of the matter, I think all groups should join force on this common issue as to how best to save Batu Caves in the shortest possible time by getting quarrying activities stopped.
In this connection, there is no substitute but to get Malaysians of all races and religions to demonstrate their concern for Batu Caves.
I seriously propose the organisation of a Batu Caves on that day, and by their presence demonstrate their concern for the national heritage and the religious shrine.
The gathering of Malaysians at Batu Caves on Batu Caves Day is not to start any altercation of fight, but for a celebration of the Sprit of Batu Caves, where Malaysians bring their families and children, for pinics, talks, discussions, even songs and dances – in other words a Festival of Batu Caves, to save Batu Caves.
Time is running out for Batu Caves, and such a Batu Cave Day should be organised within a short period of time. Such a Batu Caves Day would also serve as a notice to the two quarries and the Selangor State Government that all quarrying activities should be stopped immediately.
Such a Batu Caves Day would also be an unprecedented education for all Malaysians, and especially youths and children, about the place of conversation and environmental protection in Malaysia.
All conservation, environmental societies, youth organisations, trade unions and political parties or groups concerned about Batu Caves should jointly organise such a Batu Caves Day within the shortest possible time before the Collapse of Batu Caves.
If I may give a tentative time span which I think ideal, it will be the holding of Batu Caves Day on Sept. 7, which will give the two quarries and the Selangor State Government three weeks’ notice to stop quarrying – a period which is neither too long not short.
I will discuss with all possible conservation, environmentalist and other concerned groups on this proposal, which I hope will get their agreement.
In view of their role in the protection of Batu Caves, I think the leading role in the organising of Batu Caves Day should be played by the Batu Caves Protection Society, Malayan Nature Society and the Sahabat Alam.
The DAP Save Batu Caves Action Committee, which comprises of the following, will hold its first meeting later today to discuss its programme of activities:
Chairman: Sdr.Lee Lam Thye, Deputy Secretary-General/MP Kuala Lumpur Bandar
Vice Chairman: Sdr.Mohd.Isa bin Mohd.Ismal, Selangor DAP State
Vice Secretary: Sdr.P.Patto, National Organising Secretary Deputy Chairman: MP for Menglembu
Committee Members: Sdr.Alex ^ , Selangor State Secretary and State Assemblyman for Kajang, Selangor.
Sdr.Pang Su Peng, Selangor Publicity Secretary and State Assemblyman for Kuala Kubu Bahru, Selangor.
Sdr.M.Kuppusamy, Negri Sembilan State Secretary and State Assemblyman for Rasa.
Sdr.Hu Sepang, National Asst.Organising Secretary State Assemblyman for Rasa, N.S;
Sdr.Sd Idris bin Idrus, Selangor Asst.Organising Secretary;
Sdr.K.Ramasen, Selangor State Vice Chairman.
Sdr.Cr.Tan Seng Giaw, Ag.National Publicity Secretary.
Sdr.Mahadevan Nair, Editor of Rocket and Asst.Selangor State Secretary
Sdr.Victor Daniel, Selangor State Treasurer