Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the handing-over ceremony of 300,000 Save Bukit China mass signatures to the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple Trustees held at Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Malacca on Saturday, Nov.3 1984 at 11 a.m.
The Bukit China issue will symbolise whether the Malaysian Chinese are equal citizens, with their religions and culture fully respected, as provided for in the Malaysian Constitution.
The 300,000 Save Bukit China mass signature campaign creates history, not only in terms of the number of signatures, but also the support from all races, religions and cultures. There are two signatures books where over 400 lawyers, from all races, religions, cultures, signed to express their support for the Save Bukit China campaign.
I call on the Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik, to heed the declaration of the 300,000 signatories that:
“Bukit China of Malacca is a national heritage for all Malaysians regardless of race, as it symbolises and represents:
a) the first Sino-Malay friendship and co-operation dating to 500 years ago as recorded in the Malay Annals (Sejarah Melayu) in the union of Sultan Mansur Shah and Ming princess Hang Li-po;
b) the historic, cultural and religious contributions of the Chinese to Malaysian nation building in the past 500 years;
c) the trust property for the Chinese community handed-down by the ancestors for the purposes of the ‘promotion, propagation and observance of the doctrines, ceremonies, rites and customs of the Buddhist and other religions’ and which trust had been given statutory basis by the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple (Incorporation) Ordinance 1949 which was signed into law by the high Commissioner for the Federation, Henry Gurney, and the Representative of the Malay Rulers, Tuanku Abdul Rahman (the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong) who was then the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan;
d) the cultural roots of the Chinese in Malaysia, with its 12,500 graves on Bukit China”.
The Malacca State Government should also respect the call by the 300,000 signatories that:
1. the government should abandon the decision to level and develop Bukit China;
2. withdraw the Chief Minister’s three proposals for the development of Bukit China as announced in the Malacca State Assembly on July 23, 1984;
3. the withdrawal of the $2 million quit rent and late payments demand on Bukit China for the past 16 years;
4. the government fully recognise and respect the full ownership and determination right to reject the State Government’s proposal to level and develop Bukit China.
I wish here to pay tribute to the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple Committee for standing firm by its statutory and trust objectives, despite the great pressure put on them, to vindicate the historic, religous and cultural rights of the Chinese community over the trust property of Bukit China.
The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple trustees could be assured of the full support of the 300,000 signatories, and in fact fair-minded and right-thinking Malaysians, and in particular the five million Malaysian Chinese, in the righteous struggle to preserve Bukit China from desecration and destruction.
The Bukit China issue is not just about an ancient cemetry hill. It in fact symbolise whether the Malaysian Chinese are equal citizens, with their religious and cultural tights fully respected, as provided for in the Malaysian Constitution.
If the cultural heritage and trust property of the Chinese dating back to 400-500 years could be deprived, then it is clear that there is gross inequality and injustice, and the Constitutional provisions and guarantees of respect for the various cultures and religions are not the solemn undertakings they should be.
Malaysian Chinese must decide whether they want to be first-class citizens
In the past few months, many have asked me whether there is any hope in the struggle to save Bukit China. They said that the Malacca Chief Minister seemed very firm and unyielding, and in such circumstances, what chances were there?
The message I want to give to all Malaysians who cherish Bukit China, in particular the entire Chinese community, that the future of Bukit China does not lie with the Malacca Chief Minister, but with them.
The question is not whether the Malacca Chief Minister wants to level and develop Bukit China, but whether the Chinese community and all Malaysians who support the Bukit China cause want to allow the Malacca Chief Minister to level and develop the ancient cemtry hill.
All these years, we have been complaining about unjust and equal government policies and measures; about the wrong of dividing Malaysians into bumiputeras and non-bumiputeras; about how bitter it was to be treated as second or third class citizens.
But the greatest tragedy is that many Malaysians, particularly the Malaysian Chinese, have already regarded themselves as second or third class citizens, for we have already mentally surrendered the right to be first-class citizens, by having second or third-class mentaliry, expression and action. One example is the attitude of those who said that there is nothing one could do about the injustices or inequalities because we are ‘orang tumpangan’ – that we do not have rights.
We cannot blame others for treating us as second or third-class citizens if we ourselves do not have the first-class citizen’s thinking, feeling, expression and action. Before we can get others to respect our equal citizenship tights, we must feel, think, speak and act as first-class citizens.
The MCA, which claims to represent the five million Chinese, calls on the Chinese to unite. What is their objective? It is merely to mobilise the Malaysia Chinese to unite to become second class or third-class citizens.
Now, the tan Koon Swan MCA faction is even worse. It wants the Chinese to unite and support it to become fourth of fifth-class citizens.
This is because the Neo Yee Pan MCA faction has at least publicly pretended to be opposed to the Malacca State Government’s plan to level and develop Bukit China. The Tan Koon Swan MCA faction, led by its Malacca leaders Chan Teck Chan, Ng Peng Huay and Lim Soo Kiang, on the contrary, had given full support to the Malacca Chief Minister in his plan to level and develop Bukit China.
Call on People not to be misled by ‘sweet words’ of Tan Koon Swan MCA faction on Bukit China
The people must watch out for the ‘sweet and honeyed words’ of the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction to rally support for the Malacca Chief Minister’s Bukit China plan.
For instance, the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction’s latest tactic is to try to mislead the Chinese community into believing that they had the opportunity to build a Chinese cultural city, the tallest temple and pagoda even exceeding the original height of Kek Lok Si in Penang (which was subsequently slashed by over 50 feet), etc.
All these are meant to tempt the Chinese community into forgoing their ownership right over Bukit China, surrender the land title to Malacca State Government for conversion of title, by which time the Chinese community would have lost its ownership right altogether.
When the time comes for the re-issue of the Bukit China title, all the promises about the Chinese cultural city, the tallest pagoda temple in South East Asia, would just remain, promises, for the present Bukit China would cease to exist.
If Tan Koon Swan himself can dishonour the policy proposal to solve the Bukit China issue which he propounded in the August 8, phanton-5,000-peopl dinner in Malacca, it would be simpler still for other Bukit China promises to be broken.
The Tan Koon Swan MCA faction cannot be believed anymore, for from their role in the Bukit China affair, they have been exposed as a political group which has no political integrity sincerity or principles.
Having broken so many Bukit China promises in this short period of two months, the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction would be breaking even more Bukit China promises in future to save their political position in MCA and Barisan National.