Call on Datuk Musa Hitam to curb the Malacca Chief Minister from pushing ahead with his plan to develop Bukit China in utter disregard of the wishes of Chinese community to prevent further polarisation

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at DAP PJ Headquarters on Friday, July 13, 1984 at 12 noon

Call on Datuk Musa Hitam to curb the Malacca Chief Minister from pushing ahead with his plan to develop Bukit China in utter disregard of the wishes of Chinese community to prevent further polarisation

Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, yesterday expressed concern over the present trend of segregation and polarization among children in the country and said that if left unchecked, the situation could see seeds being sown towards a confrontation of the races.

He urged parents to help prevent racial polarisation among their children as this could threaten future unity, and to help curb racial feelings among their children.

The DAP welcome the Deputy Prime Minister’s concern on this issue, for inside and outside Parliament, DAP MPs had warned of the grave danger to the further of Malaysia because of the worsening of racial polarisation in the country. What is worse, there are signs that even religious polarization is taking place which would make religion a highly divisive force in Malaysian society among the different faiths for the first time in Malaysian history.

The Government must be sincere in wanting to reverse the process of growing polarization, because its whole range of political, economic, educational, cultural and religious policies and actions have been a great accelerator of this process of the worsening of racial polarisation.

I hope that Datuk Musa’s concern marked a new awareness on the part of the Government to grapple with this greatest problem in Malaysia, and not a pretext to attack political opponents by putting the blame on them for the process of racial polarisation.

I agree with Datuk Musa that parents should curb the racial feelings among their children but before the parents could do that, the Government through its policies and pronouncements, must gain the confidence of the parents that it is sincere in wanting to end racial polarization in the country. This is because the parents could not convincingly curb the racial feelings of their children when they feel very aggrieved by the injustice and unfairness of government policies which only affect them but their children’s future as well.

The DAP is prepared to co-operate fully with the Government to identify and deal with the cause of growing racial polarisation in the country, for every Malaysian citizen love this country and want it to be a nation of harmony, unity and prosperity. Nobody should take the attitude that he has a monopoly to patriotism of love for Malaysia, while others are evil-minded out to cause chaos and disorder in the country.

As first immediate step to reverse the trend of growing racial polarisation, the Government leaders must set a good example, and refrain from taking postures or stands which trample on sensitivities of the cultural and religious rights of the various communities.

In this connection, I would call on Datuk Musa Hitam to burb the Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik, from pushing ahead with his plans to develop Bukit China in Malacca in utter disregard of the sensitivities of the Chinese community about their 500-year-old historic, cultural and religious monument.

There is no doubt that if Datuk Rahim Thamby Cik pushes ahead with this Bukit China plan in utter defiance of the wishes and sensitivities of the Chinese community with regard to the community trust property of Bukit China handed down by the ancestors for religious worship, he would be making racial polarisation in Malaysia even worse.

Although the Malacca State Government has said that the question now is not whether to develop Bukit China or not, but how to develop it’, Datuk Musa must, in the national interest, restrain him, for the Malacca Chief Minister has got no mandate whatever to carry out government development of Bukit China.

As a responsible political leader, the Malacca State Chief Minister should declare at the Malacca State Assembly on 23rd July that he would, just like previous Chief Ministers like Ghaffar Baba, Talib Karim, Ghani Ali and Adib Adam, respect the cultural, religious sensitivities of the Chinese community with regard to the 500-year-old Bukit China Cemetry, leaving to the Chinese community to decide its future; as well as announcing the withdrawal of the State Government’s letter to Cheng Hoon Temple (Trustees of Bukit China) dated Oct.5, 1983, disclosing the government’s intention to level and develop Bukit China, officially drop the government’s plan to develop Bukit China, and withdraw the $2 million quit rent demand on Bukit China for the past 16 years.

The Malacca Chief Minister must be made to understand that although he may become a great UMNO hero by pushing ahead with the Bukit China plan, has action would be one of the biggest causes of worsening racial polarisation in the 1980s.

DAP to protest to Datuk Musa about Harian Nasional cartoon on Bukit China which insults and belittles the Chinese community

One important factor for the worsening of racial polarisation is the growing contempt for the sensitivities and rights of the various communities in the country. The Harial Nasional cartoon on 10th July on Bukit China showing two Chinese, squatting in front of a shrine carved out of a tree, saying in bad Malay to a group: “Ini Bukit China kalau bikin bangunan kita orang manyak susah lo..! Ini pokok kalau tak ate, tatak ong! Ini pokok sudah manyak bagi kita nombor ekor!” is one such example.

This cartoon has belittled and insulted the Chinese community, in particular all those who oppose the Malacca State Government plan to develop Bukit China, by picturing as ignorant, superstitious, -greedy, people whose vision is only to strike numbers! This is an insult to those who oppose the Bukit China being levelled, because it is a national heritage symbolising Sino-Malay friendship and association going back 500 years; those who oppose because it symbolises cultural roots of the Chinese community and religious rights and freedom of worship; and those who oppose because their ancestors are buried on the hill.

Such cartoon cannot make any contribution to the creation of a united Malaysian people and nation, and the DAP would lodge a strong protest with the Minister of Home Affairs on the cartoon. The Home Ministry should call up the Editor of Harian Nasional and administer him a severe reprimand to remind him that in a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural society, nobody should make disparaging remarks about other communities, religions or culture.