Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP ‘Save Bukit China’ Public Ceramah held at Pay Fong Chinese Independent Secondary School on Saturday, 28th July 1984 at 8pm
DAP to launch a ‘Save Bukit China’ mass signature campaign to oppose any form of government development of Bukit China or deprivation of the rights of Chinese community for self-determination on Bukit China
On 23rd July 1984, the Malacca Chief Minister, Abdul Rahim Thamby Ciik, reiterated the State Government’s plan to level and develop Bukit China into a housing and commercial centre, although he made three proposals as to how such levelling and development of Bukit China could be carried out.
The three proposals are:
1. Development of the hill solely by the Chinese community:
2. Joint development of the hill by the Government and the Chinese community: and
3. Development of the hill by the Government.
Eighteen days before that, the Chief Minister had given an undertaking to the Tan Koon Swan faction of MCA that the State Government would fully respect the wishes of the Chinese community on the future of Bukit China.
But from the three proposals of the State Government, and the declaration that the government plan to level ad develop Bukit China would proceed as planned, it is clear that the Chief Minister’s speaks and uses a very different language from ordinary people.
From the Malacca Chief Minister’s July 23 statement, it is clear that what he meant by respecting the decision of the Chinese community with regard to the future of Bukit China is where the Chinese community agrees with the government’s development plan. Where the Chinese community disagrees with the state government’s plan of development for Bukit China, then the Chief Minister would have no time for the Chinese community, their rights and sensitivities, for he has also advocated development of Bukit China by the government itself if the Chinese community would not co-operate.
From this episode we should learn that the Malacca Chief Minister’s words, undertaking and promises cannot be accepted on face value, for his promise to respect the decision of the Chinese community with regard to the furniture of Bukit China (as claimed by Chan Teck Chan, Lim Soo Kiang, Ng Peng Huay and Gan Boon Leong and representatives of the Malacca MCA rebel branches after their meeting with the Chief Minister on July 5) does not really have its ordinary meaning, but have a special twist which really means that the Chinese community is only free to decide to agree with the State Government, and not to disagree.
Similarly, when I first proposal, the Chief Minister said that Bukit China could be developed solely by the Chinese community, we must not accepted it on its face value, for it probably means development of Bukit China solely by the Chinese community, in the manner the State Government wants it.
The Chief Minister, for instance, has suggested that the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple Committee, the trustees, should surrender the hill back to the State Government for change of use of Bukit China from burial ground to development into housing and commercial centre. There have been enough individual cases if surrender of land to government for change of use of land where the State Government was able to impose conditions which the landowner had no choice but to agree, for it had lost the title to the land, for everyone to realise the hazards of this move. At that time, for instance, the State Government could agree only to change of use if the State Government’s conditions with regard to NEP conditions are fulfilled, and Cheng Hoon Teng Temple would be in no position to do anything about it, for they would have surrendered the land and lost the title over Bukit China.
I am only using the Chief Minister’s suggestion of surrender of Bukit China back to State Government as an illustration, for the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple would have no powers under the Cheng Hoon Teng (Incorporation) Ordinance to surrender Bukit China to change the use from burial ground to housing and commercial centre.
A politician who is prepared to completely disregard the historic, cultural and religious right and sensitivities of the Chinese community with regard to the national monument of Bukit China, would be prepared to go to any lengths to achieve his objective to level and develop Bukit China, turn it into a housing and commercial centre, and use its earth for land reclamation projects.
The so-called three options of development as outlined by the Malacca Chief Minister is really no option – for they permit of only one choice, i.e. agreement with government to level and develop Bukit China.
So far, only the Tan Koon Swan faction in the MCA had come out openly in support for the Chief Minister’s development plan for Bukit China, with regard to the first option and its Malacca leader, Chan Teck Chan, has proved to be even more eager and desperate for the development of Bukit China than the Chief Minister.
Chan Teck Chan and the Tan Koon Swan faction in MCA must think the Chinese community as children if they except to be believed that they are supporting the Chief Minister’s plan to level and develop Bukit China because they want to defend the ‘right to self-determination’ of the Chinese community over Bukit China.
What ‘right of self-determination’ over Bukit China are thy defending, if they had supported the Chief Minister’s deprivation of this right, on the ground that the Chinese community and Cheng Hoon Teng would not be allowed to say ‘no’ to government’s plan to develop Bukit China?
The ‘right to determine’ the future of Bukit China has always been in the hands of the Chinese community, through Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, the treasures; it is the Malacca Chief Minister and Malacca State Government who are threatening the removal of this ‘right to self-determination’, the defenders of this right should be resisting the designs of the Chief Minister and State Government. But what is the Tan Koon Swan faction of MCA, claiming to defend the ‘right to self – determination’ on Bukit China for the Chinese community, doing? They are giving full support to the Chief Minister and seeking to destroy the authority, credibility and integrity of Cheng Heng Hoon Teng Temple Committee!
They are even trying to organise a 5,000 – People Dinner on August 8 in Malacca, under the name of the Committee to Defend the ‘Right to Self Determination’ of Chinese community over Bukit China, when their objective is to help the Chief Minister to removed this ‘right to self – determination’.
The people must be aware of the double – talk and wolves in sheep’s clothing in the Bukit China affair, for ^ as the Chinese saying goes, ‘Money can make even devils labour’, the entire Bukit China development project which would be worth some $500 million could easily tempt people to abandon their principles, integrity and public spiritedness for the opportunity to become wealthy overnight. If men with principles could be tempted to betray, then men with proven lack of political principles would be many more times unscrupulous and opportunistic.
What we are seeing is the classic case of those who ‘raise the RED flag to down the Red flag’, those who shout the loudest about ‘protect the right of self-determination of the Chinese community on Bukit China’ but who actually want to destroy the right of self-determination of the Chinese community’, those who raise the cry of defending Bukit China but who actually want to level it!
The ‘Level and Develop Bukit China faction’ led by Chan Teck Chan in Malacca, although it claims to protect the’ right of self – determination of Chinese community over Bukit China’, is in fact competing and seeking to rob this ‘right of self – determination over Bukit China’ from Cheng Hoon Tang Temple and the Chinese community.
From the Chief Minister’s State Assembly statements on July 23 and previous pronouncements, he has made it plain that the State Government would want to level and develop at least 80 per cent of Bukit China to turn it into a housing and commercial centre, use the earth for land reclamation, and in the process dig up the overwhelming majority of the 12,500 graves and resite them.
Yet the ‘Level and Develop Bukit China’ faction in MCA and the Chinese community, led by Chan Teck Chan, Ng Peng Huay in Malacca (and according to them led by Tan Koon Swan and Lee Kim Sai nationally) had sought to mislead the Chinese community when they gave full support to the Chief Minister’s three development proposals, claiming that it is for development into a tourist, historic, cultural research centre.
The ‘Level and Develop Bukit China faction’ is guilty of trying to perpetrate the Oreatest Deception in Malaysia in the 1980s.
Studying the Malacca Chief Minister’s speech in the Malacca State Assembly on July 23, I find that many of things there had already been said previously by Chan Teck Chan or the ‘Level and Develop Bukit China faction’.
For instance, Chan Teck Chan & Co. had said why I speak about ‘levelling’ Bukit China, and not just ‘development’ of Bukit China; and the Chief Minister in the Malacca State Assembly also echoed the same complaint. I stand by my use of the world ‘levelling’ Bukit China, for how can at least 80 per cent of Bukit China be turned into a housing and commercial centre and its earth used for land reclamation project without Bukit China being levelled?
^, Chan Teck Chan & Co. accused some Chinese community leaders at the Malacca Chinese Chamber of Commerce Management Committee meeting on 17th July of ‘saying one thing, and doing another’ on Bukit China issue. Again, the Chief Minister on Oct July 23, raised the very same subject matter in the State Assembly when he said: “Ada Setengah-setangahnya, khusus di kalangan masyarakat Tionghua, yang terus terang menyokong rancangan pembangunan Bukit China ini, ada pula yang memberi sokongan bersyarat, ada juga yang menentang, ada pula yang berdiri diatas pagar, ada juga yang di hadapan manyatakan sokongan tetapi di belakang sebalik nya, dan lain-lain reaksi yang bermacam-macam rupa.”
Chan Teck Chan & Co.had also accused the DAP of raising racial sentiments over the Bukit China issue and being political opportunists, and unsurprisingly, this was another theme of the Chief Minister’s July 23 speech in the Malacca Assembly.
These evidence of Chan Teck Chan and Co’s hand in the Malacca Chief Minister’s July 23 speech on Bukit China tally with my information that Chan Teck Chan and Ng Peng Huay worked close with the Chief Minister over the July 23 speech.
This is probably the first time that the MCA had been involved so prcminently in the preparation of a policy statement in any State Government, but unfortunately, it is not to fulfil the wishes and aspirations of the Chamber community, but to go against them!
In fact I have information and reason to believe that Chan Teck Chan, Ng Peng Huay and others in the ‘Level and Develop Bukit China’ faction not only worked closely with the Chief Minister to prepare the July 23 Malacca Assembly speech, thay also co-orinated and planned their strategies after the Chief Minister had delivered the speech to achieve their common objective – the first step of which is the destruction of Bukit China.
For instance, on July 24, the Assemblyman for Tranquerah, Ng Peng Huay, launched into an unprecendented attack on Cheng Hoon Teng Temple trustees, branding them as ‘traitors of the Chinese race’. This was only the second step in the campaign to destroy credibility and authority of Cheng Hoon Teng Tenple trustees, for the first step was taken by the Chief Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik on July 23, where he accused the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, trustees of having initially agreed to the State Government’s development plan to level the hill to build a housing and commercial centre.
The Malacca Chief Minister also said: “Pada hemat saya, dan setelah meneliti faedah – faedah dan hasil – hasil nyata dari pembangunan Bukit China kepada masyarakat Tionghua sendiri, adalah jelas penuduh – penuduh (those who opposed Bukit China development) by government) itulah sebenar – sebenar pengkhianat kepada Bangsa Cina.”
Chan Teck Chan Co. have now reached the stage where they have given the power and right to UMNO leaders to decide who are the ‘pengkhianat Bangsa Cina’ – indeed a great MCA breakthrough!
Be that as it may, it is clear that Ng Peng Huay’s denunciation of Cheng Hoon Teng Temple Trustees is part of a well – planned strategy to discredit the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple trustees and to deprive the Cheng Hoon Teng and the Chinese community of the ‘right to self-determination over the future of Bukit China’.
Ng Peng Huay had been challenged, both by the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple trustees and myself, to repeat outside the protection of privilege of the Malacca State Assembly his highly slanderous statement that the trustees are ‘traitors of the race’, but Ng Peng Huay seemed to have gone into hiding.
It is open secret that Ng Peng Huay’s speech was prepared by Chan Teck Chan, and was meant to be delivered either by Exco Member Lim Soo Kiang or Ng Peng Huay.
In this speech, Ng Peng Huay said he was acting under the leadership of Tan Koon Swan and Lee Kim Sai, and both Tan Koon Swan and Lee Kim Sai must urgently clarify their position, on their continued silence would be construsted as confirmation of Ng Peng Huay’s statement that the ‘Level and Develop Bukit China faction’ in Malacca was acting with full knowledge, approval and authority of Tan Koon Swan and Lee Kim Sai.
Chan Teck Chan had told the press that the Malacca State Government have evidence to prove Ng Peng Huay’s branding the Cheng Hoon Teng trustees as ‘traitors of the race’. In the Malacca State Assembly. Yet both Chan Teck Chan and Ng Peng Huay dare not repeat this allegation without the protection of the Malacca Assembly privilege, to allow the maligned to take legal action to clear their reputation.
Chan Teck Chan had also sought to be the Chief Minister’s spokesman by warning the Chinese community that they have a ‘very short time’ left to accept the Chief Minister’s three options for developing Bukit China, or they would lose their ‘right to self-determination over Bukit China’.
On 17th July, he sought to pressurize the Malacca Chinese Chamber of Commerce Management Committee to dissociate itself from Cheng Hoon Teng Temple Committee and to declare support for the Government’s development plan for Bukit China.
Now, he and his faction are trying to pressurise the Chinese community to accept the Chief Minister’s development proposals for Bukit China or lose their rights over Bukit China, which had been in their hands for some 400 years.
Chan Teck Chan had also told the press that he want the Chinese Chambers of Commerce, the Chinese Assembly Hall and other Chinese organisations in Malacca as well as other states to hold an urgent meeting to draw up a blur – print for development of Bukit China and submit to the Malacca State Government, in keeping with the Chief Minister’s proposals in the Malacca Assembly.
The people can draw their own conclusions as to why Chan Teck Chan and Tan Koon Swan MCA faction in Malacca are so bent on wanting to help the Chief Minister achieve his Bukit China plan.
There are strong political and economic reasons for both sides: on the one hand, any UMNO leader who can level and develop Bukit China would become a national UMNO hero, with unlimited future political prospects; while the development of Bukit China would open up vast opportunities for the creation of instant millionaires. On the other side, if the Tan Koon Swan faction in MCA could ‘fix’ the Chinese community and dissipate its objections to the levelling and development of Bukit China, it would be able to show to UMNO both in Malacca and Malaysia-wide that they are more reliable and dependable than the Neo Yee Pan faction, as well as the similar motives of vast new riches to be made from the development of Bukit China.
The people, and in particular the Chinese community in Malacca and Malaysia, must make it very clear to the State and even Federal authorities that Bukit China is not an ordinary burial ground, but symbolises the first Sino-Malay co-operation and friendship in Malaysia, and the Chinese contribution to Malaysian nation-building, and dating back to some 500 years, and also represent the cultural roots of the Chinese in Malaysia.
We must make it clear that the people would not permit their cultural roots to be chopped, or their religious rights to be trampled upon, just for the sake of allowing a group of UMNO and MCA leaders to gain political fame or acquire financial fortunes.
The Duputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, recently expressed concern that racial polarisation in Malaysia has reached such a state that even school-children have racial sentiments. If the Malacca State Government utterly disregards the cultural and religious rights and sensitivities of the Chinese community, and rush headlong to deprive the Chinese community of their trust property in the foam of Bukit China, – a national heritage of some 500 years – then racial polarisation in the rest of the 1980s and the 1990 is going to be worse than what is it is today.
For the sake of national unity, for the sake of reducing radial polarisation in the country, the Malacca State Government should immediately abandon its plan to level and develop Bukit China and turn it into a housing and commercial centre, and remove all forms of duress or coercion to force the Chinese community to acquiesce in with the Government’s wishes, as the $2 million quit rent demand slapped on the Bukit China recently for 16 years!
The Greatest tragedy in the Bukit China issue is that there are those in Chinese community who are prepared to go against the wishes and the interest of the community and aid abet those who wish to level and develop Bukit China, giving the State Government the legitimacy and justification to want to proceed with its Bukit China plan as originally decided.
These people are prepared to resort to all sorts of tricks to achieve their purpose, as on Friday, 2^ th July, the day the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple publishes an advertisement in the newspapers inviting public views on the government’s plan to develop Bukit China into a housing and commercial centre, the Chinese and English newspaper which carried the advertisement were bought up from all newsstands in Malacca by 10a.m. by those who wish to ‘manufacture’, ‘phantom’ public opinion in support of the government plan.
The proposed 5,000-people August 8 dinner in Malacca, purportedly to defend the ‘right of self-determination of Chinese community over Bukit China’ is another such tactic to manufacture legitimacy for the Malacca State Government to proceed with its plan to level and develop Bukit China.
It is for this reason that it must be the responsibility of everyone who want to preserve Bukit China as a national heritage to see to it that this 5,000-People dinner is a gigantic failure. It would be a good idea of all those who have received dinner invitations cards to the 5,000-Paople Dinner to turn them over to the DAP Malacca Save Bukit China Committee so that we could arrange a date for a public bonfire of the 5,000-People Dinner Invitation Cards to protest against such gross defiance of the religious and cultural sensitiviti es and rights of the people.
In view of the irresponsible but sustained campaign of those who want to manipulate public opinion and manufacture legitimacy for the Malacca State Government to proceed with its original plan to level and develop Bukit China, the DAP has decided to launch a ‘Save Bukit China’ mass signature campaign to oppose any from of government development of Bukit China or deprivation of the rights of the Chinese community for self-determination on Bukit China.
We need like-minded Malaysians who want to protect Bukit China from destruction to come forward to help us in the ^ the mass signature campaign and other programmes designed to save Bukit China. For this puropose, we will from a Save Bukit China Action Task Force, and we welcome all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, political affiliation, to come forward and volunteer to join in this public campaign. The DAP office in Malacca will open a register from members of the public to come forward to join the Save Bukit China Action Task Force, so that everyone could play an active and direct role to save Bukit China, to ensure that our roots remain intact and that the position of the future generations are protected from relentless erosion.