Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the launching of the DAP ‘One Person, One Dollar’ $2 million Bukit China quit rent protest campaign in Penang at a press conference on Monday, Dec. 0, 1984 at 11 am
The One Person, One Dollar $2 million Bukit China quit rent protest campaign is nation-wide people’s political consciousness movement to put a half to the trampling of the people’s basic rights
The DAP is launching the ‘One Person, One Dollar’ $2 million Bukit China quit rent protest campaign in Penang today making this the fifth launching after Malacca, Federal Territory, Perak, Kedah and Perlis in the last four days.
The ‘One Person, One Dollar’ Campaign is in fact a nation-wide people’s political consciousness movement to put a halt to the serious erosion of the people’s basic rights in the last 32 months since the April 1982 general elections.
There are people like the Gerakan President, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and the Gerakan Chief Minister, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, who want to mislead the people into believing that he Bukit China issue has nothing whatsoever to do with the people of Penang on the ground that it is a land issue concerning the people of Malacca only.
What the two Dr. Lims in the Gerakan had done is to give the Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Abdul Rahim Thamby CIk, advice as to show to handle opposition to his plan to deprive the Chinese community of Bukit China ownership rights. This was why the Malacca Chief Minister said he would not recognise the representations of 553 Chinese societies, associations and organisations which wrote to the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple (the trustees of Bukit China) expressing their objection to the Malacca Chief Minister’s attempt to force development in Bukit China, and the 300,000 mass signature campaign collected by the DAP object to any Malacca State Government take-over of Bukit China.
The Bukit China issue however is not about the future of a cemetry hill in Malacca. It is about the future of our political status and rights in Malaysia, whether we have religious and cultural sensitivities which must be respected by the government. The Malays have religious and cultural sensitivities and rights which non-Malays must respect; but the question in the Bukit China issue is whether the Chinese and other non-Malays also have religious and cultural rights and sensitivities which must be respected by everyone.
The Malays, for instance, have Malay Reserved Land and the Chinese and Indians do not have the right to tell the Malays to develop the Reserve Land for the Malays. Similarly, the Chinese must insist that we have also certain reserved land, like BUKIT CHINA, which is a community trust property of the Chinese for religious purposes, which is ‘untouchable’ by others, and no government has the right to demand that the Chinese surrender our centuries-old ownership right to allow the government to develop it and excavate the 12,500 graves on the cemetry hill.
If the Malaysian Chinese could not preserve its most ancient cemetry hill, lasting some 400 to 500 years, and which is protected by a national law, the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple (Incorporation) Ordinance 1949, and discharge the religious and cultural responsibilities laid on us by our ancestors, then there is not a single inch of land which is safe, nor is there any right which is free from encroachment today or tomorrow.
In the last 32 months, as a result of the land-slide victory of the Barisan Nasional, and the DAP’s unprecedented electoral disaster in Peninsular Malaysia, including Penang, the people faced a relentless erosion of their political, economic, educational, religious and cultural rights.
It is the time that the people take a stand, and tell the Barisan Nasional government that such a whole-sale erosion of the people’s rights, as in the One Language-One Culture Policy, the Islamisation Process, the unchecked influx of illegal Indonesian immigrants, the policy of assimilation as the objective in Nastional Cultural Policy, the acceleration in New Economic Policy and its extension after 1990, the further reduction of political power and influence of the Malaysian Chinese and non-Malays in the redineation of parliamentary and state electoral constituencies, must stop and cannot go on anymore.
The Save Bukit China campaign is in fact a campaign to save our political, economic, educational, whether in the rest of the 1980s and the 1990s, we are going to have our rights respected, or the reverse, where our rights will be trampled on mercilessly.
I therefore call on the people of Penang, especially the Chinese, to give full support to the Bukit China ‘One Person, One Dollar’ Campaign, not only to defend Bukit China, but to defend our own political, economic, educational, cultural and religious rights and that of our children and children’s children.
Those who stand in the way of this campaign, like Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and Dr. Lim Chong Eu, do not want he people to restore their political, economic, educational, cultural and religious rights. I would advice the two Dr. Lims in the Gerakan not to sacrifice the future of the people, in particular the Malaysian Chinese, for the sake of endearing themselves to UMNO so that in the next general lections, the Gerakan would get allocation of more parliamentary and state assembly seats at the expense of MCA.
The time has also come for the Malaysian Chinese to decide whether they want to wake up to the serious erosion of their rights and reassert control over their own destiny or continue to allow themselves to be victims of ‘Divide and Rule’ policy.
The most modern form of ‘Divide and Rule’ Policy, as a development of the ‘Divide and Rule’ Policy of the British colonial masters before Malaysia’s Independence, is to make the Malaysian Chinese compartmentalised into different sections, including on a State basis. Thus, Dr. Lim Chong Eu’s statement that the Bukit China issue is a state issue involving Malacca only is a variant of this ‘Divide and Rule’ tactic, whereby the Malaysian Chinese cannot concentrate their energies and strength to fight off a challenge to their cultural heritage and religious rights which must affect the Chinese not only in Malacca, but also in Penang and in the whole of Malaysia.
The Malaysian Chinese must unite as Malaysians and together with Malaysians of other ethnic groups, stand for a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious Malaysia, or they can remain divided, totally at the mercy of a relentless process of erosion of their basic rights which could not be checked because of the political, religious and cultural symbolism of Bukit China.
When we fight for Bukit China, we are not fighting for the past – we fight for the future; we are not fighting for the dead, we are fighting for the living and those yet unborn.