Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Saturday, 20th July 1991 at 11.30 a.m.
DAP establishes the Second Save Bukit China Committee to launch a Second Save Bukit China campaign
I am announcing at this Press Conference the establishment of DAP Second Save Bukit China Committee to launch a second Save Bukit China campaign, in view of the unreasonable, punitive and oppressive threat by the Malacca State Government to forfeit Bukit China, the most ancient Chinese cemetry hill in Malaysia, if the trustees, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple Inc, does not pay up $8 million in less than two months by 18th September.
The DAP Second Save Bukit China Committee will be a national committee like the first Save Bukit China Committee formed in 1984. The DAP Second Save Bukit China Committee will be headed by the DAP MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng as Chairman and the DAP Assemblyman for Tranquerah, Sim Tong Hin, as Secretary and the full committee will be announced in due course.
The Bukit China issue is not an issue which concerns Malacca only, but a national issue which concerns the political and cultural rights of the people and future generations. In fact, the DAP’s first Save Bukit China Campaign was expanding into an international campaign when the Malacca state Government succumbed to public pressure and gave up its attempt to demolish Bukit China and dump the graves into the sea for land reclamation.
I am confident that just as people throughout the country had responded to the DAP’s first Save Bukit China campaign in 1984, Malaysians all over the country would again respond to the DAP’s Second Save Bukit China campaign.
I can on all Malaysians who cherish out cultural heritage and roots to follow closely the second attempt by the Malacca state Government to take over Bukit China.
Malacca State Government threat to forfeit Bukit China if $8.17 million is paid is a political decision forfeiture
The Barisan Nasional Government in Malacca has shown complete bad faith in demanding the $8.17 million in quit rent, arrears and late payment penalties on pain of forfeiture for non-payment.
The decision to demand $8.17 million or forfeit Bukit China is clearly a political decision, and has nothing to do with administration as the Malacca Chief Minister, Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Cik, would want the people to believe.
This was confirmed by the Malacca State Land and Mines director Haji Ahmad Kushairi Haji Abdullah who said that the Malacca State Executive Council decided last month to demand $8.17 million or to proceed with acquisition of Bukit China.
It is ridiculous and utter nonsense for the Malacca state government to classify Bukit China as land meant for “building and commercial purposes” when it had been a burial ground for 500 years with some 12,500 graves on the hill.
During the height if the previous Malacca State Government attempt to demolish Bukit China, it demand $2 million quit rent and arrears from the trustees on June 23, 1984.
On November 28, 1984, the state government sent a letter demanding payment of the $2 million or face forfeiture of Bukit China. When the trustees, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple Inc., filed legal action to challenge the demand, the Malacca State Legal Adviser admitted on Dec. 12, 1984 that the demand was “illegal and not in accordance with the National Land Code.”
This means that there had been no demand for quit rent as Bukit China burial ground had traditionally been exempted from paying quit rent.
If there is no demand, how could there be arrears or fines for non-payment amounting to the frightening figure of $8.17 million.
Call on Rahim not to play politics with the Bukit China issue a second time
I call on the Malacca Chief Minister, Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Cik, not to play politics with the Bukit China issue a second time. He should announce that it was a complete mistake on the part of the Malacca State Exco to demand $8.17 million or face forfeiture, and withdraw the letter of June 18, 1991 altogether.
The DAP Second Save Bukit China Committee will soon announce the steps that would be taken in the Second Save Bukit China campaign.