Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the ‘Save Bukit China’ Public Ceramah held at Seremban Town Hall on Friday, 10th August 1984 at 8 p.m.
DAP exposes Tan Koon Swan faction’s new slogan of ‘Oppose Levelling Bukit China’ as really meaning ‘Levelling 80% of Bukit China’
Two nights ago, in Malacca, Tan Koon Swan faction of MCA organised a dinner where they sent out 7,000 tickets, but could only get 3,000 people after mobilising the nation-wide Tan Koon Swan MCA faction forces throughout the country, with the majority of the crowd estimated at some 70 per cent coming from outside Malacca; and some 95 per cent of them members of the Tan Koon Swan faction.
The original purpose of this so-called ‘5,000-People Dinner of August 8’ was to mobilise public support in the Chinese community to the Malacca Chief Minister’s plan to level and develop Bukit China, so that he could have the justification and legitimacy of securing support from a section of the Chinese community to push through with his plan to turn the 500-year-old historic, religious and cultural monument into a housing and commercial centre and use the earth for the land reclamation.
As a result of the DAP’s call for a public boycott of the so-called 5-ooo-People Dinner to protest its purpose to provide support and legitimacy for the State Government’s plan to level and develop Bukit China, the public not only boycotted the dinner, but it forced Tan Koon Swan to state for the first time that he would respect the rights of Cheng Hoon Teng Temple over Bukit China.
A study of Tan Koon Swan’s speech in Malacca on August 8, and the speeches delivered by the other leaders of the Tan Koon Swan faction in MCA, like Datuk Lee Kim Sai, Chan Teck Chan and Ng Peng Huay, made it very clear that the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction in Malacca had not changed its stand on Bukit China, but had merely changed its tactics and wordings to confuse and misled the Chinese not only in Malacca but also throughout Malaysia.
At first, Tan Koon Swan faction in MCA Malacca used sweet-sounding words like ‘liberate’ and ’beautify’ Bukit China, when Chan Teck Chan, Ng Peng Huay and others meant ‘level and develop Bukit China’.
Then they talk about ‘defending the ownership rights’ over Bukit China when they meant depriving the ‘ownership rights’ of Cheng Hoon Teng over Bukit China.
Next, they put up banners in Chinese to ‘defend ownership rights over Bukit China’, but in Bahasa Malaysia, their banner refer to the defence of ‘development rights over Bukit China’!
Now, for the first time since the Bukit China issue for four months, the Tan Koon Swan faction have declared that they are opposed to the ‘levelling’ of Bukit China. But after a study of the various speeches made by the Tan Koon Swan faction in Malacca on August 8, it is clear that what they meant by opposing the ‘levelling’ of Bukit China, is the levelling of the entire Bukit China. As Chan Teck Chan said in the Malacca dinner on August 8, they oppose ‘’the levelling of the entire hill’. I presume that if the objective is the levelling of 80 per cent of Bukit China, as announced by the Malacca State Chief Minister on July 23, the Tan Koon Swan faction would have no objection.
Tan Koon Swan in his August 8 dinner speech in Malacca said:
“Now, the government’s proposal is development. What is meant by development is very wide-ranging. The opening of a few drains is development. The planting of two trees is development. So we must not quarrel over whether to develop or not to develop. If the Government’s objective is development, well and good. This right should be given to us.”
I am shocked by Tan Koon Swan’s speech. Does he mean that the Malacca State government merely wanted to build a few drains and plat a few trees? The Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik, had made it very clear that what the state Government wanted was to level and develop 80 per cent of Bukit China into a housing and commercial centre, and use the earth for land reclamation.
Why then is Tan Koon Swan running away from the real issue, i.e. the State Government’s declared intention to level and develop 80 per cent of Bukit China and use the earth for land reclamation, and talked instead of development as meaning ‘opening a few drains or planting two trees’ as also meaning development?
When the Malacca Chief Minister made clear in the Malacca State Assembly that the government wanted to level and develop 80% of Bukit China into a housing and commercial centre, and put forward his three proposals to carry out this development, Ng Peng Huay declared in the State Assembly the full support of the MCA for the Chief Minister.
In fact, when Ng Peng Huay branded the Cheng Hoon Teng trustees as ‘traitors of the race’, the Chief Minister pounded the table in appreciation!
When the Tan Koon Swan faction support the Malacca Chief Minister’s plan for Bukit China, it means support the levelling of 80 per cent of Bukit China.
This mean that when the Tan Koon Swan faction now talks about opposing the ‘Levelling of Bukit China’, they mean they oppose the levelling of the entire Bukit China, but not if 80 or 90 per cent is levelled!
I challenged the Tan Koon Swan faction leaders, including Tan Koon Swan, Chan Teck Chan, Ng Peng Huay, Lim Soo Kiang, to make it very clear in public that they oppose the Malacca Chief Minister’s plan to level and develop 80 per cent of Bukit China to turn it into a housing and commercial centre!
If they are not prepared to clearly state this public stand, then their statement that they respect the decision of Cheng Hoon Teng is meaningless, for Cheng Hoon Teng’s stand is a direct opposite.
After all, it was the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction in Malacca which tried to destroy the authority and credibility of Cheng Hoon Teng to safeguard Bukit China by:
Firstly, seeking to pressurise the Malacca Chamber of Commerce on July 17, 1984 to dissociate itself from Cheng Hoon Teng if the Trustees are opposed to the government’s development plan, and to provide the lead in Chinese community to respond to the Chief Minister’s proposal;
Secondly, seeking to block the Cheng Hoon Teng from advertising in the press asking Chinese organisations, families of those buried on Bukit China, and the Chinese for their views on the government’s plan to develop Bukit China;
Thirdly, seeking to influence and manipulate Cheng Hoon Teng opinion poll by buying up-all Chinese and English newspapers carrying the Cheng Hoon Teng form in all newsstands in Malacca;
Fourthly, seeking to discredit and destroy the authority, legitimacy and oredibility of Cheng Hoon Teng Temple to safeguard Bukit China by:
(i) branding Cheng Hoon Teng trustees as ‘pengkhianat bangsa’ – ‘traitors of the race’;
(ii) spreading word that proof that Cheng Hoon Teng trustees are ‘traitors of the race’ are in the hands of the Malacca State Government and would be produced in the 5,000-People Dinner of August 8.
Listening to a tape-recording of Chan Teck Chan and Ng Peng Huay’s speeches at the August 8 dinner, it is clear that both of them not only did not regret their previous role in the Bukit China issue, they still maintain that they are right.
At the dinner, Chan Teck Chan even described those who disagreed with the Bukit China stand of the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction as ‘political fugitive’ and ‘racial coward’. He brought out several arguments as to why the Chinese community must be ‘realistic’ about the Bukit China issue and follow his example: namely political power, economic power, military power are in other people’s hands!
I find Datuk Lee Kim Sai’s speech at the August 8 dinner most disappointing. He said that DAP states, that if Bukit China is levelling and destroyed, it would mean the destruction of our roots, the wiping out of the Chinese contribution to nation-building in Malaysia and the violation of constitutional freedom of religion. He said that if this is true, then the whole Bukit China issue must given deep study and examination.
As former MCA Youth Leader, Datuk Lee Kim Sai should be ‘first to know first to be conscious’, but it would appear that after being sacked from the MCA and dismissed as Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, he has become retarded, become ‘last to know, last to be conscious’.
Tan Koon Swan asked why the Chinese community is in confusion and chaos, and why all are quarrelling when everyone have the same objective. I do not know whether he really does not know, or whether pretends not to know.
If it is the former, then he has highlighted great gaps in his political leadership capabilities; in the latter, he has given the people reason to doubt his sincerity.
After listening to the entire proceedings of the August 8 dinner on tape, I am convinced that the Tan Koon Swan MCA Malacca faction has not changed its Bukit China stand to help the Malacca Chief Minister to achieve his plan to level and develop the national heritage, but merely changed their tactics. They are even more dangerous.
If we are to succeed to preserve the 500-year old symbol of the first Sino-Malay friendship and co-operation; the symbol of Chinese contribution to Malaysian nation building and their roots, then there are two groups who must be defeated: Firstly, Chief Minister and other UMNO leaders who want to level and develop Bukit China; Secondly, Chan Teck Chan, Ng Peng Huay, Lim Soo Kiang and others in the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction who are trying to drum up Chinese support for the Chief Minister’s plan.
The DAP will step up its ‘Save Bukit China’ campaign to mobilise the support of all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, to support the national call for the preservation of Bukit China as a national heritage.
We will take the ‘Save Bukit China’ call to all corners of Malaysia, to reach and secure the support of Malaysians from all nooks and corners. This is a cause that we must not, and cannot afford, to lose.