Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the Selangor DAP Save Bukit China Committee meeting held on Tuesday, 25.9.1984 at 8 p.m.
Malacca Chief Minister’s description of Bukit China as a ‘white elephant’ is highly offensive and hurts the cultural, religious sensitivities and feelings of the Chinese community
In the latest issue of ASIAWEEK magazine, the Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik, dismissed the Bukit China in Malacca as a ‘white elephant’ declaring: “We can’t have a white elephant right in the middle of town”.
This is a most offensive and insensitive remark, and hurt the cultural and religious insensitive of the Chinese community as Bukit China has special cultural and religious meaning for the Chinese in the past centuries.
If the Malacca Chief Minister regard the religious and cultural sensitivities of the Chinese community as irrelevant, then would he similarly advocate that symbols which represent the Malay culture and Islamic religion are also irrelevant and also ‘white elephants’? if not, just as he expect the non-Muslim to give full respect to the religious and cultural sensitivities of the Malays in Malaysia, the Chinese have a right to demand that their religious and cultural sensitivities and symbols are fully respected, and not dismissed with contempt as ‘white elephants’!
In his Asiaweek interview, Datuk Rahim Thamby CIk denied that the government acquisition and development of Bukit China would affect ethnic relations in the country. The Chief Minister said:
“I don’t think the development of Bukit China will in any way affect racial harmony in the country. The people of Malacca are positive about development. They know what is good for them. They are unity conscious. Malays and Chinese of Malacca have a long history of co-operation and they have till now loved harmoniously and I hope they will not be misled or confused by these highly politicized campaigns (referring to the DAP’s Save Bukit China campaign).”
Datuk Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik must be living in a dreamland if the really believes that the State government’s forcible leveling of any portion of Bukit China would not lead to the worst aggravation of racial polarization in Malacca as well as elsewhere in Malaysia. Datuk Abdul Tahim Thamby Cik must not think that what Chan Teck Chan and the other Tan Koon Swan MCA faction leaders tell him are the truth.
It is true that the Malays and the Chinese have a long history of co-operation and harmony, and this was because all this while, both races had learnt to respect each other’s religious and cultural rights and sensitivities. For the first time in Malacca history, Datuk Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik is threatening to undermine this ‘long history of co-operation’ between the Malays and the Chinese in Malacca by his insensitive and high-handed attitude towards the leveling of Bukit China.
Surely any student could tell the Malacca Chief Minister that if he forcibly levels and develops Bukit China, going against the mainstream of Chinese community opinion and aspiration, he would go down in Malacca history as the first person to create disharmony and disunity in the State.
I call on the Malacca Chief Minister to treasure the ‘long history of co-operation between the Malays and the Chinese in Malacca’ and to abandon his plan to level and develop Bukit China as it would damage this long history of harmony and co-operation in Malacca.
In his interview, Datuk Abdul Rahim said that the Cheng Hoon Teng trustees ‘were receptive to the idea of development until the DAP made it into a big political issue;. This is another tactic of the Malacca Chief Minister to ‘divide and rule’, to sow mistrust between the various groups who are now united to oppose the government’s Bukit China plan. The Cheng Hoon Teng trustees have made their stand on Nukit Chinawithout any ambiguity, and I would advise the Malacca Chief Minister and his cohorts in the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction to stop trying to discredit the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple committee in the eyes of the Chinese community.