Call on Tan Koon Swan to deny that he got the idea of ‘the Chinese community do not have development right in Bukit China’ from Chan Teck Chan, who got it from the Malacca Chief Minister

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Malacca on Tuesday, 14.8.1984 at 11.30 a.m.

Call on Tan Koon Swan to deny that he got the idea of ‘the Chinese community do not have development right in Bukit China’ from Chan Teck Chan, who got it from the Malacca Chief Minister.

In attending the August-8, 3,000 People Dinner of the Tan Koon Swan MCA Malacca faction, Tan Koon Swan had done the Chinese community two great harm:

1. to give an authoritative speech on the Bukit China issue when he admitted after the speech that he did not know that the Malacca Chief Minister wanted to level and develop 80 per cent of Bukit China into housing and commercial centre;

2. his presentation of the idea that the Chinese community do not have development right of Bukit China.

Of these two damages, the latter exceed the former, for the theory that the Chinese community do not have development right over Bukit China could jeopardise all the property rights of Malaysian Chinese, whether as a community or as individuals.

I challenge Tan Koon Swan to deny that his idea that ‘the Chinese community do not have development right of Bukit China’ came from Chan Teck Chan, who is turn, got the idea from the Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik.

Tan Koon Swan’s theory that the Chinese community do not have development right over Bukit China, but only burial right, has caused considerable problems for it is a most fallacious argument.

In the last few days, I have had discussion with various people who had been completely by Tan Koon Swan’s argument. They said that Tan Koon Swan’s argument to be right, and yet seemed to be wrong.

There is a need to examine this in greater details, so that it be rejected totally by the entire Chinese community.

According to Tan Koon Swan’s theory, the Chinese community has burial right, but not development right of Bukit China. If the development right of Bukit China is not in the hands of the landowner, namely Cheng Hoon Teng Temple as the trustees of the Chinese community, then it could only be in the hands of the Government.

It is further argued that the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple could only use Bukit China for burial ground purpose, and not for development, and that the Government could anytime take over Bukit China for development, even if Cheng Hoon Teng Temple itself wants to develop Bukit China.

I think the fallacy of the ‘development right’ theory lies in equating the so-called ‘development right’ with ‘acquisition right’ of the Government.

I agree that under the Land Acquisition Act, the government has the right to acquisition land for a public purpose as defined under the Act. But this does not mean that the land owners do not have ‘development right’.

I think the picture would be clearer if we take a hypothetical case of a rubber estate of 100 acres, which the Government has no intention to acquire at all. Now, the owner of the 100-acres rubber estate wants to develop the land and apply to the government for conversion of the land title from agricultural to residential use.

At this point of time, who has got the ‘development right’ over the 100 acres of rubber land? Is it the landowner or the Government? If it is the Government’s, then it could either arbitrarily refused to transfer the government’s development right’ to the landowner, or impose the most unconstitutional conditions, as in exchanging the original freehold tile to a 30-year leasehold.

In fact, I would contend that if the so-called ‘development right’ of any piece of land lies in the government, and not in the landowner, once any landowner applies for development of his hand, the government can just take over the land to assert its ‘development right’ even without exercising its ‘acquisition’ right.

‘Acquisition’ right is based on the Land Acquisition Act, but this Act mentions nothing about such ‘Development right’. I presume it must be a right inherent in the Government, which it could exercise without reference to any law!

So, going by Tan Koon Swan’s theory, for a piece of land ehre the government has no intention whatsoever to acquire under the Land acquisition Act, the ‘development right’ is still the hands of the Government and not the landowner.

I am very shocked by such pernicious doctrine espoused by Tan Koon Swan. This so-called ‘development right’ of Bukit China does not belong to the Chinese community should have come from the Malacca Chief Minister, but it is a tragedy that the Chief Minister has succeeded in getting prominent Chinese political leaders to sell this idea for him!

Ordinary land ownership right must include development right, and other forms of use of land, subject of course to the laws of the land.

I will give another example to show up the fallacy of Tan Koon Swan’s theory. Say, a Chinese community group has bought up 100 acres of agricultural land for the purpose of using it as a burial ground. Does it mean, by Tan Koon Swan’s logic, that the Chinese community has ‘agricultural right’ but not ‘burial right’? Who then has got the ‘burial right’? Can the Government just move in to take over the property concerned and use it for ‘burial purposes’ of its own without invoking the Land Acquisition Act?

Although the Government has the legal right to acquire Bukit China, such legal exercise of power is subject to the condition that it is not exercised in utter disregard to the sensitivities and legitimate rights and aspirations of the people, and in this case, the Chinese community for whom Bukit China has been a community trust property for 400 years.

Parliament has the legal power to enact a legislation to declare that all males become females, and all females become males. Such a law could not be challenged in the courts, but it would be challenged by the people as going beyond the accepted bounds of decency, acceptability and legitimacy.

The case of Bukit China is the same.

I call on Tan Koon Swan to publicly reject the theory that the Chinese community do not have development rights over Bukit China, and to return to the mainstream of Chinese community opinion that Bukit China land ownership rights encompasses all other available rights.

Why was Tan Koon Swan silent about the $2 million quit rent demand?

Tan Koon Swan was supposed to give an authoritative speech on the Bukit China issue – a speech to end all speeches. But what I find very surprising that in none of the speeches by Tan Koon Swan, Lee Kim Sai and the other speakers, was there any mention of the $2 million demand for quit rent and late payment arrears on Bukit China demanded by the State Government.

Is Tan Koon Swan’s silence on the $2 million quit rent demand tantamount to agreement?

Walk/Jog to Save Bukit China

I had earlier announced that there would be a ‘Jog to Save Bukit China’ programme on Friday, August 17. Owing to public demand, we have decided to shift the date of the ‘Jog and walk to Save Bukit China’ from Friday, August 17 to Sunday, August 19, to enable more concerned Malaysians to take part in the programme.

The ‘Walk/Jog Save Bukit China’ would be led by the Part National Chairman, Dr. Chen Man Hin, who will be celebrating his 60th birthday in three months’ time, at the Poh San Temple on Sundqay at 8 p.m. All participants must wear the ‘Save Bukit China’ T-shirt, to highlight the people’s concern for the preservation of Bukit China.

Among DAP leaders who will be taking part in the Walk/Jog To Save Bukit China would be the DAP Deputy Chairman, Karpal Singh, Vice Chaiman, Chan Kok Kit Kit, Director of Political Bureau, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, National Publicity Secretary, Liew Ah Kim, Deputy National Organising Secretary, Hu Sepang, and others.

DAP applies for ‘Save Bukit China’ public rallies.

Commenting on the ban of ceramahs in the four states of Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu, the Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam said that political parties who want to have public rallies should apply to the police.

The DAP is taking the word of the Acting Prime minister seriously, and the DAP will apply for police permits to hold ‘Save Bukit China’ Public Rallies, in three places in September, namely, Malacca on September 1, Penang on Sept. 2 and Ipoh on Sept. 8.

Meeting of Principal Officials of State DAP ‘Save Bukit China’ campaign in Malacca on Sunday, 19th August

I am summoning on emergency meeting of all principal officials of the various State ‘Save Bukit China’ campaign, to work put the tactics and strategy of ensuring that the 200,000 signature target is achieved.

The national meeting of the ‘Save Bukit China’ State DAP Committees’ principal officials would also be given a briefing about the latest developments in the campaign.