Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the Selangor Save Bukit China Public Ceramah held at Hokkien Huay Kuan, Klang on Saturday, 25th August 1984 at 8 p.m.
Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik, should not make Cheng Hoon Teng trustees as the ‘scape-goats’ for the Bukit China issue, but admit it is because of his indifference to the historic, religious and cultural sensitivities of the people, in particular the Malaysian Chinese
A few hours ago, a friend who had just flown in from Singapore told me that the Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik, had told the latest issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review that the Bukit China issue and controversy was the result mainly of the ‘about-face’ of the Cheng Hoon Teng trustees.
The Malacca Chief Minister was quoted as saying that in making the announcement about the Malacca State Government’s decision to develop Bukit China, he was only giving effect to the wishes of the trustees of Cheng Hoon Teng who wanted commercial development.
The Malacca Chief Minister should not now try to make the Cheng Hoon Teng trustees as the scape-goats for the Bukit China issue, but must admit that it was entirely because of his indifference to the historic, religious and cultural sensitivities and rights of the people, in particular the Malaysian Chinese.
If his sole purpose was to give effect to the wishes of the Cheng Hoon Teng trustee who he said wanted ‘commercial development’ of Bukit China, then why did he declare that the government would not reconsider it plan to level and develop Bukit China, when not only Cheng Hoon Teng but virtually the entire Chinese community (apart from the Tan Koon Swan MCA Malacca faction) had declared their opposition to any plan resulting in the levelling of the historic cemetry hill?
If the Malacca Chief Minister wanted to give effect to the wishes of the trustees, then he should declare that since there had been a change of mind on the part of the Cheng Hoon Teng trustees, the Malacca State Government would respect their views.
That the Malacca Chief Minister announced as late as July 23 that the government was fully committed to the levelling and development of Bukit China, and even accused those ‘who expressed support fir development in front and oppose at the back’, and unilaterally without consultation with Cheng Hoon Teng apart from the Tan Koon Swan MCA Malacca faction the optionless three proposals to develop Bukit China, are strong grounds for doubting the truth of the Chief Minister’s claims that it was the Cheng Hoon Teng trustees who wanted Bukit China to be developed commercially.
Was it also the idea of the Cheng Hoon Teng trustees that the Malacca State Government should demand $2 million for quit rent and late payment fines for Bukit China for the past 16years?
Was it also the Cheng Hoon Teng trustees’ idea that the Committee and the Chinese community given ‘short’ (to use Chan Teck Chan’s words) time period to decide whether to surrender the ownership rights over Bukit China?
Datuk Abdul Rahim’s interview with the Far Eastern Economic Review raises many question about his sincerity with regard to his statements. For instance, he hold the FEER that his ’80:20 per cent’ formula, i.e. the State Government’s decision to level and develop 80 per cent of Bukit China while retaining 20 per cent, was a starting point for negotiations.
If Datuk Abdul Rahim was sincere, why didn’t he make the stand in the Malacca State Assembly in July 23? Does Datuk Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik have so little regard for the Malacca State Assembly, that he is not prepared to tell the Malacca State Assembly the whole government stand on Bukit China, but is prepared to tell a foreign magazine?
The DAP wants to tell the Malacca Chief Minister that the issue of the ownership right of the Chinese community, through Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, over Bukit China is not-negotiable, whether for the levelling of 80 per cent or 60 per cent or 50 per cent of the cemetry hill.
The Malacca State Government, if it wants to give effect to the wishes of Cheng Hoon Teng trustees, must immediately announce its acceptance of the official stand of the Cheng Hoon Teng and withdraw all plans to level and develop Bukit China, including the Chief Minister’s optionless three proposals for the levelling and development of Bukit China.
The Malacca Chief Minister must accept and respect the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple position that if it does not want to negotiate with the Malacca State Government, then there is nothing to negotiate at all!