By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Sunday , January 23th, 1994:
The Hotel Metropole demolition scandal is different form the Donybrook and Lin Radio cases because the Gerakan dimension caises grave questions about propriety and integrity
Both the penang Chief Minister Dr. Koh tsu Koon and the MPPP President Datuk Tan Gim Hwa seem to be acting in concert in wanting to give the people the impression that the demolition of Hotel Metropole is not so serious , outrageous and scandalous in view of the two earlier cases of demolition of heritage buildings in George Town.
According to them , the building known as “donnybrook “ in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah was torn down on February 19 , 1990 , and the MPPP issued a summons four months later in June 1990 and the courts fined the owners RM 10,000 for the offence.
On 1st October 1992 , the Lin Radio building in Jalan Burmah was demolished by the owbers , the MPPP took action about two- and a half months later on January 1993 , and the owners were fined RM 40,000.
On the basis of the destruction of these two earlier heritage buildings , TSu Koon and Gim Hwa made one claim for the MPPP and one allegation against the DAP.
The Claim was that the MPPP President Tan GIm Hwa had acted faster in the case of Hotel Metropole demolition than these two earlier cases , as MPPP issued summons on the Hotel Metropole new owners on January 3 or ten days after the ‘lighting demolition ‘ on Christmas Day as compared to four months in the case of donnybrook and two and a half months in the case of Lin Radio.
The allegation was that the DAP was ‘ playing dirty tactics’ at the lowest level as the DAP had not objected in the cases of Donnybrook and Lin Radio , while making such strong objections in the case of Hotel Metropole . I was even accused of wanting to get Gim Hwa out from the post of MPPP President.
It is easy to rebut both the claim and the allegation.
As for their claim that the MPPP President had acted faster to issue summons in the Hotel Metropole case than in the two earlier cases , the people of Penang know that Tan Gim Hwa simply had no choice because of the daily pressure by the Penang DAP as to why there had been no action by him or the MPPP!
In fact , Tan Gim Hwa owes the people of Penang a full explanation as to why no action was taken on Christmas Day itself to stop the demolition , as nobody would believe that there was not a single person whether in the MPPP or the Penang State Government who did not know about the Hotel Metropole demolition.
As for the second matter as to why the DAP had not objected to the two earlier cases of Donnybrook and Lin Radio, the explanation is very simple. As a result of the policy of secrecy of the MPPP , where the MPPP President and councilors acted without regard to the principles of accountability and transparency , how are the people to know these two buildings had been categorized by the MPPP as heritage buildings?
To be frank , when I first heard about the demolition of Hotel Metropole , it took me some time before I could get confirmation that Hotel Metropole had been classified as a heritage building and was on the 1989 MPPP list of 20 heritage buildings for Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah.
I fully agree that the case of Hotel Metropole demolition became more complex because of the involvement of Gerakan leaders , whether as immediate past owners looking for a seller for the property and their role in the MPPP to remove it from the 1989 MPPP list of 20 heritage buildings.
The Gerakan dimension in the Hotel Metropole demolition scandal raises the additional and grave issues of propriety and integrity which were absent in the order two cases of Donnybrook and Lin Radio.
It is for this reason that the DAP has called for a Public Inquiry to get the bottom of the Hotel Metropole demolished scandal , not only on the demolition on December 25 , 1993 , but also into the events and circumstances before December 25 , 1993 which led to the Christmas Day demolition.
As for Gim Hwa;s accusation that I wanted to get him out of the post of MPPP President for the DAP ‘s interest , he cannot be more wrong.
If the Dap thinking solely of what would politically benefit the DAP most in the next general elections , we would want to keep Gim Hwa as MPPP president and we would not pres the Penang Chief Minister to dismiss him because of the hOtel Metropole and Taman Midlands.
However , we always subordinate our political interest to public interest , which cries out for action to be taken against the MPPP President for the Hotel Metropolr and Taman Midlands scandals.