By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Friday, August 20, 1993:
If Dr. Koh Tsu Koon and Goik Hock Lai knew nothing about the forfeiture of Bukit Mertajam Hock Teng Cheng temple land until six weeks after the decision, who is really running the Penang State Government?
The political secretary to the Penang Chief Minister, Goik Hock Lai, wants the people of Bukit Mertajam and Penang to believe that both he and Dr. Koh Tsu Koon knew nothing about the forfeiture of Bukit Mertajam Hock Teng Cheng temple land until August 7 – six weeks after the decision to forfeit made on June 22 and one month after the gazette notification of the forfeiture on July 8.
Accepting Hock Lai’s contention for the moment, that both he and Dr. Koh Tsu Koon did not know about the forfeiture until six weeks after the decision had been taken by the State Government to forfeit the land of the 108-year-old Bukit Mertajam temple, then the people of Penang have a right to ask who is really running the Penang State Government?
For the last 34 months since the 1990 general elections, the biggest question in Penang politics who is the real power in the Penang State Government – whether it is the Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon or the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Ibrahim Saad.
From the Bukit Mertajam Hock Teng Cheng temple land forfeiture incident, and the explanation given by Goik Hock Lai, the people can only conclude that Dr. Koh Tsu Koon is not running the Penag State Government.
It is unthinkable that if Dr. Koh Tsu Koon is the real power in the Penang State Government, he could be uninformed and unware about the forfeiture of the 108-year-old Bukit Mertajam Hock Teck Cheng Temple land – or the earlier gazette notification by the State Government of its intention to forfeit the temple land.
Goik Hock Lai denied that he had known about the state government’s intention to forfeit the Bukit Mertajam Hock Teng Cheng temple land in April. In order to deny responsibility, Hock Lai is giving more evidence to show that he is an incompetent political secretary to the Chief Minister and strengthen the case that he should be sacked from the present post.
It is up to the members of Bukit Mertajam Hock Teng Cheng temple authorities to decide whether they want to publicly declare that they have approached Goik Hock Lai to help resolve the temple land forfeiture question.
Goik Hock Lai has lost the confidence of Dr. Koh Tsu Koon as he does not know that the temple land had been ‘deliberately forfeited’ as claimed by the Chief Minister on Wednesday
What Goik Hock Lai should explain is why he did not know that the Bukit Mertajam Hock Teng Cheng temple land had been “deliberately forfeited so that it could be sold back at the cheapest nominal price to help legalise the land”.
This was started by Dr Koh Tsu Koon on Wednesday, and clearly Goik Hock Lai has lost the confidence of the Penang Chief Minister if he did not know about the State Government ‘deliberate forfeiture’ of the Bukit Mertajam Hock Teng Cheng temple land. Goik Hock Lai is making history as the most uninformed political secretary to the Penang Chief Minister.
Can Goik Hock Lai explain whether the Bukit Mertajam Hock Teng Cheng temple land was ‘deliberately forfeited’ on the instuctions of Dr. Koh Tsu Koon or Dr. Ibrahim Saad?
Call on Tsu Koon to get the State Exco next Wednesday to return the land to Bukit Mertajam Hock Teng Cheng temple in the most expeditious manner – by annulling the forfeiture without a single cent of penalty
Penang DAP calls on Dr. Koh Tsu Koon to declare when the State Government will re-alienate the land it had forfeited to Bukit Mertajam Hock Teng Cheng temple – whether it is going to take one, three, five or more years.
Secondly, we call on Tsu Koon to change his mind about dividing the 108-year-old land title of Bukit Mertajam Hock Teng Cheng temple into two titles – one for religious use and another one for commercial use.
In the re-alienation, the State Government should issue the same one title for the entire land forfeited, so that the temple has the option in future for explanation.
Thirdly, we also call on Tsu Koon to get the State Exco next Wednesday to resolve the problem in the most expeditious manner whereby the land could be returned to Bukit Mertajam Hock Teng Cheng temple latest by September – by annulling the forfeiture without a single cent of penalty.
Of course, Tsu Koon can only do this if he is the ‘defacto’ Chief Minister. This will be another test whether Tsu Koon is running the Penang State Government, or somebody else is doing so.