Speech by Penang Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Assemblyman for Padang Kota, Lim Kit Siang, in the Penang State Assembly on the Motion of Thanks on Thursday, 2nd June 1994
DAP calls for public inquiry into Hotel Metropole demolition scandal to ascertain whether there had been improprieties, abuses of power and conflict of interest involving MPPP President, Tan Gim Hwa and national and state Gerakan leaders
The test of the mettle and calibre of a State Exco Member is during question time in the State Assembly meeting, when he would have to demonstrate that he has full mastery of the subject under discussion, having all the information at his fingertips.
Every time an Exco member could not answer a .question or has to plead for ‘notice’ before he could give an answer, it is a confession that this Exco Member is not up to the mark, has no mastery over his portfolio and even worse, has not done his homework before the State Assembly meeting!
We in the DAP must express our great disappointment at the low standards shown by State Exco members during question time.
The Member for Ara Rendang, Haji Zakaria bin Bakar, who is in charge of the housing portfolio, was unable to answer my question as to what was the Penang target under the Special Low-Cost Housing Programme and had to plead for ‘notice’ when this is a data which he should be dreaming about even in his sleep if he is really serious about his housing portfolio.
Koh Tsu Koon has demonstrated during Question Time that he is not the No. 1 government leader in the State but is only playing second fiddle!
The Member for Sungai Bakap, Dr. Goh Cheng Teik, could not answer whether Pangkal Permata Sdn. Bhd. had paid the balance of the RM18.7 million for the -lease of MPPP land for the RM200 million Taman -Midlands project, amounting to RM14,969,812.80, which had to be paid to the MPPP before 30th April 1994 under its Memorandum of Understanding with MPPP dated 30th October 1993. Dr. Goh Cheng Teik had either failed in his homework on Taman Midlands or he had been denied the fullest cooperation and briefing by the MPPP President, Datuk Tan Gim Hwa, on the issue.
What I have said about State Executive Councillors is even more pertinent in the case of the Chief Minister. Question time is the real test for the Chief Minister – not only to demonstrate that he has mastery over state government matters, but even more important, that he is in full command of the government that he is the No. 1 leader in the State Government and not merely playing a second fiddle!
Until last year, Tsu Koon at least tried in the State Assembly to demonstrate that he is the real No. 1 leader in the State Government, and he even got his publicists to plant stories in the press as to how well the Chief Minister was performing in the State Assembly and even taking on and besting the Opposition!
But in this State Assembly, Tsu Koon seems to have capitulated completely and given up the fight. Everyone knows that the two, main issues in this State Assembly are the two MPPP scandals of the Hotel Metropole demolition and the RM200 million Taman Midlands ‘One-Stop Centre.
A Chief Minister who is No. 1 leader in the State Government would have taken the floor and faced the Opposition questions instead of hiding behind Goh Cheng Teik, using this Exco Member whom everybody knows is ‘in name but not in fact’ in charge of local government as his “protective shield against arrows’!
This is a great shame for the Chief Minister. ‘I have no doubt that the former Chief Minister, Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu, would never have done such a thing and. that he would be in the forefront himself in the Assembly to face Opposition questioning instead of passing the buck to somebody else.
During question time on Tuesday, Tsu Koon had capitulated so completely that he would not even stand up to intervene, as he had been doing in the past three years, when I accused him of being “an apologist1 for the Hotel Metropole demolition and alleged that the company which played a central role in the sale transactions of Hotel Metropole, Cempaka Sdn. Bhd., was a Gerakan investment arm and that the Chief Minister knew about it.
Goh Cheng “Teik is a complete “outsider1 not allowed a utter a single word outside the State Assembly on the two MPPP scandals of Hotel Metropole demolition and Taman Midlands “One-Stop Centre
Tsu Koon may have reasons of his own for not wanting to take the two questions on the two MPPP scandals of the ‘Hotel Metropole demolition and Taman Midlands “One-Stop’ Centre, but it is the height of irresponsibility for him, to make Goh Cheng Teik to answer these two questions when he knows that Goh Cheng Teik is a complete “outsider” as far as these two MPPP issues are concerned.
This was why in the past six months’ those making public statements on these two issues were either the MPPP President, Tan Gim Hwa, the Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon or even the Gerakan National Publicity Chief, Dr. Kang Chin Seng., but not Goh Cheng Teik – the Exco in charge of MPPP!
Goh Cheng Teik knows his place outside the State Assembly that he is not allowed to utter a single unscripted word outside the State Assembly on these two MPPP issues.
Even in the State Assembly, Cheng Teik cannot give proper and correct answers in the State Assembly on MPPP matters because he has no authority whatsoever over MPPP.
In fact, it is the MPPP President, Datuk Tan Gim Hwa who is more powerful than Goh Cheng Teik. So it is not a question of Goh Cheng Teik the Exco Member demanding the MPPP to give accurate, full and truthful answers to DAP questions about Hotel Metropole demolition and Taman Midlands scandals, but Tan Gim Hwa telling Goh Cheng Teik what to reply in the State Assembly -even when these answers are wrong, dishonest and untrue.
Can anyone for instance, imagine the State Exco member in charge of Local Government, Dr. Goh Cheng Teik, sitting in his Exco office at 26th Floor KOMTAR summoning the MPPP President Tan Gim Hwa at his MPPP office at 17th Floor KOMTAR to come up nine floors to his Exco office to give full explanation about DAP questions about MPPP?
I think Dr. Goh Cheng Teik will have even to make an appointment to descend nine floors from his exco office at KOMTAR to the MPPP to meet Tan Gim Hwa!
If there is anybody who does the summoning, it will be Tan Gim Hwa as the Gerakan Penang Chairman who will summon Goh Cheng Teik to come down from the 26th floor KOMTAR to the MPPP at 17th Floor KOMTAR for a meeting.
Can Tsu Koon explain his irresponsible conduct in making Cheng Teik answer the two questions on Hotel Metropole demolition and Taman Midlands when Goh Cheng Teik is a complete ‘outsider’ on these issues utterly impotent, to inquire in them, and could only be a “parrot” to be ‘His Master’s Voice’ in the State Assembly?
Cheng Teik plays second fiddle to one person who is supposed to be his inferior, while Tsu Koon plays second fiddle to two persons who are supposed to be his inferiors
The Chief Minister’s relationship with Tan Giro Hwa is not very different from that of Goh Cheng Teik, as Tan Gim Hwa is the political ‘boss’ of Koh Tsu Koon as the Penang Gerakan State Chairman.
Just as it is unthinkable that Goh Cheng Teik in his 26th Floor KOMTAR Exco office would dare to ring up and summon Tan Gim Hwa to go up nine floors to give an accounting on MPPP matters, it is also unthinkable that Dr. Koh Tsu Koon in the Chief Minister’s office at KOMTAR 28th Floor would dare to summon Tan Gim Hwa from his MPPP office at KOMTAR 17th Floor to go up eleven floors to explain about the Hotel Metropole or Taman Mid-1ands scandals.
Tsu Koon would feel more secure if he acts in the name of the entire State Executive Council instead of in his capacity as Chief Minister, and this must be the reason why on December .22, 1993, Tan Gim Hwa was asked to give a special briefing on the Taman Midlands scandal to the entire State Executive Council!
This is a most unhealthy, unnatural and disgraceful relationship – for it makes a complete mockery of MPPP accountability to the State Assembly through the Chief Minister and the Exco.
If Tan Gim Hwa is not prepared to accept Goh Cheng Teik as his “boss” in the State Government, then Tsu Koon should move Cheng Teik to another portfolio and appoint a Exco member who could exercise control and supervision over the MPPP President.
May be, Tsu Koon does not find this unhealthy, unnatural and disgraceful relationship unusual – as he himself is in a similar relationship not only vis-a-vis Tan Gim Hwa but also with Dr. Ibrahim Saad, the Deputy Chief Minister – whom everybody knows is the Chief Minister de facto in the state.
Goh Cheng Teik plays second fiddle to one person who is supposed to be his inferior while Tsu Koon plays second fiddle to two persons who are supposed to be his inferiors – Dr. Ibrahim Saad and Tan Gim HwaI
As Chief Minister, Tsu Koon must bear full responsibility for the Hotel Metropole and Tainan Midlands scandals although he is not directly involved in them
May be one other reason why Tsu Koon did not himself answer the Hotel Metropole and Taman Midlands questions on Tuesday was that he wanted to distance himself from these, scandals as they have nothing to do with him and are completely the handiworks of Tan Gim Hwa.
I am prepared here and now to pronounce Tsu Koon innocent, clean and uninvolved in the Hotel Metropole and Tainan Midlands scandals, for he is just not in the state political mainstream to be involved. But as Chief Minister, he must bear full responsibility for these two MPPP scandals.
I understand that as a result of the Hotel Metropole and Tainan Midlands scandals last December, resulting not only in widespread unhappiness in Gerakan but also in the Barisan Nasional in Penang, there was pressure in Penang Gerakan that the unhealthy, unnatural and disgraceful relationship where the Chief Minister is subordinate and subservient to the MPPP President, should be terminated.
An understanding, in the top Gerakan leadership was reached in January this year where it was agreed that in exchange, for Tan Gim Hwa giving up the post of Chairman of Penang Gerakan in the Penang Gerakan party elections in May this year, Tan Gim Hwa would be given another term as MPPP President.
This was why Tsu Koon announced on 13th January this year the re-appointment of Tan Gim Hwa as MPPP President although his tenure did not expire until 19th February, and why the Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik made a statement in Kuala Lumpur subsequently that he was satisfied with the explanation of Tan Gim Hwa on the demolition of Hotel Metropole and that there was no impropriety of any kind in the sale of the building to Dolphin Square Sdn. Bhd. or its subsequent demolition.
However, after he had been re-appointed as MPPP President for another two years, Tan Gim Hwa reneged on his undertaking not to re-contest for the post of Gerakan Penang Chairmanship- on the ground that if he relinquished the position, it would be contested by Dr. Goh Cheng Teik.
So the unhealthy, unnatural and disgraceful relationship where the Penang Chief Minister has to play second fiddle to two persons who hold inferior positions in the State Government continues!
Cempaka Sdn. Bhd. is the investment arm of Gerakan just like Huaren Holdings Sdn. Bhd is an investment arm of MCA and Hatibudi Sdn.Bhd. was formerly investment arm of UMNO
The Hotel Metropole Demolition is a great Penang State Government and Gerakan political scandal because of the involvement of national and state Gerakan leaders, whether in Hotel Metropole Sdn. Bhd. or subsequently in Cempaka Sdn. Bhd. which bought over the entire company and then sold Hotel Metropole to RM2 shell company Dolphin Square Sdn. Bhd.
Cempaka Sdn. Bhd. is no ordinary company. It is the investment arm of Gerakan, just, like Huaren Holdings Sdn. Bhd. is an investment arm of MCA and Hatibudi Sdn. Bhd. was formerly investment arm of UMNO.
As stated by Edmund Terence Gomez;’ latest book, “Political Business – Corporate. Involvement of Malaysian Political Parties”, Huaren Holdings Bhd. is the MCA’s main holding entity and owns the majority shareholding in Star Publications (M) Bhd., while Hatibudi Sdn. Bhd. should be familar to all politically-concerned Malaysians as it is through this vehicle that UMNO started its privatisation trail – the North-South Highway, privatisation project in 1977 through acquisition of United Engineers Malaysia Ltd. (UEM) by Hatibudi Sdn. Bhd.
Is Tsu Koon prepared to take a lie detector test that he never heard of Cempaka Sdn. Bhd. and does not know that it is operating as an investment arm of Gerakan?
According to the June 1993 records with the Registrar of Companies, the directors of Cempaka Sdn. Bhd. were:
1. Senator Dato Soong Siew Ho
ong I/C’1163727, the Gerakan Treasurer-General of No. 9, Jalan 6/6, 46000 Petaling Jaya;
2. Tan Sri Chan Choong Tat, I/C 3067788, Gerakan Secretary-General of No. 1054, ‘Bukit Rasah, 70300, Seremban;
3. Lim Kheng Guan, I/C 0583530 younger brother of Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik of No.32; Pesiaran Burhanuddin, Tainan Tun Dr.Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur.
Dr. Koh Tsu Koon is a National Vice Chairman of Gerakan. When I said during question time that Cempaka Sdn. Bhd. is an investment arm of Gerakan, he dared not stand up to deny. Instead, he sent a note to Goh Cheng Teik to answer that he did not know about it. Of course, Goh Cheng Teik did not know about it – as he is in-the business of not knowing many things, not only in Gerakan, but in Penang, whether in the state government, MPPP or MPSP. His exco portfolio should aptly be called the portfolio of ‘not-knowing-things’.
But Tsu Koon should know that Cempaka Sdn. Bhd. oper¬ates as an investment arm of Gerakan. Is he prepared to take a lie detector test that he had never heard of Cempaka Sdn. Bhd. and does not know that it is operating as an investment arm of Gerakan?
The Hotel Metropole scandal is therefore a 100 per cent Gerakan scandal and has nothing to do with UMNO, MCA or any other Barisan Nasional component parties.
In fact, Hotel Metropale was popularly known as Hotel Gerakan, because of its ownership.
According to its 1991 Registry of Companies returns, the directors of Hotel Metropole Sdn. Bhd. on 7th August 1991 were as follows:
1. Lim Ee Heong I/C 4084742, merchant, of 27 Pinhorn Road, 11600 Penang;
2. Tan Gim Hwa I/C 3894170, Public Accountant, of No. 1, Macalister Court, 10450 Penang
3. Lim Siew Keat (F) I/C 0276090, cashier of 27, Pinhorn Road, 11600;
4. Geh Teng Kheng, I/C 0754564, merchant, of 53, Lengkok Mahsuri, Bandar Bayan Baru, 11900, Penang;
5. Lim Seng Hock I/C 4093081, merchant,’ of 71-A’ Medan Trengganu, 11600 Penang; and
6. Loke Yean Peng, I/C 0272569, merchant of 35, Nanning Street, 10400, Penang.
The records show that Tan Gim Hwa was director of Hotel Metropole Sdn. Bhd. when he was appointed MPPP President in February 1992.
Although he stooddown as director, together with his family members, he remained a significant shareholder of Hotel Metropole Sdn. Bhd.
Hotel Metropole Sdn.Bhd. Had a paid-up capital of RM1,762,000 or 17,620 shares of RM100 each.
According to the ROC returns of 17th July 1992, Tan Gim Hwa held 1,05.0 shares, while Tan Kean Wan I/C 4365828 held 1,075 shares and Tan Seong Hwa I/C 4982988 held 1,175 shares. Both Tan Kean Wah and Tan Seong Hwa gave the same address as Tan Gim Hwa.
At the end of 1992, Hotel Metropole .Sdn. Bhd. – whose sole asset was Hotel Metropole – was sold to the Gerakan investment arm, Cempaka Sdn. Bhd. for an undisclosed sum and on 10th June, 1993, Cempaka Sdn. Bhd. entered into a Sale Agreement with Dolphin Square Sdn. Bhd. to sell Hotel Metropole for RM9.5 million, believed to be three times its market price because of its status as a heritage building – the sale to be completed by early December.
Three weeks after the completion of the sale, in early December last year, on Christmas Day, Hotel Metropole was demolished although Hotel Metropole had been on the 1989 MPPP list of 20 heritage buildings for Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah.
Lim Keng Yaik, Chan Choong Tat and Siew Soon Hoong are among the national Gerakan leaders who should be subpoenaed to testify in a public inquiry about the role of Gerakan investment arm in the Hotel Metropole scandal
DAP reiterates our call for a public inquiry into the Hotel Metropole demolition scandal because the Hotel Metropple scandal really stinks! Such a public inquiry should ascertain whether there had been improprieties, abuses of power and conflicts of interest involving the MPPP President, Datuk Tan Gim Hwa and national and state Gerakan leaders.
National Gerakan leaders like the Gerakan Secretary-General, Tan Sri Chan Choong Tat, the Gerakan Treasurer-General, Datuk Soong Siew Hoong and even the Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik should be subpoened as witnesses to testify as to their role in the Hotel Metropole scandal.
The public inquiry should throw light on the following six questions:
* What is the real nature of the sale of Hotel Metropole Sdn. Bhd. by Gim Hwa and other’ Penang Gerakan leaders to the Gerakan’ investment arm, Cempaka Sdn. Bhd., after he became MPPP President. In other words, was this sale a genuine and boha fida sale, or only a camouflage for the Penang Gerakan leaders who were owners of Hotel Metropole.
* When a few months later, Cempaka Sdn. Bhd. sold Hotel Metropole to the RM2 company, Dolphin Square Sdn. Bhd. for RM9.5 million, who was the real seller?
*Why did Dolphin Square Sdn. Bhd. pay RM9.5 million for Hotel Metropole when it is a heritage building which could not be demolished or is there a clear understanding for the sale that the 100-year-old heritage building could be demolished?
*Who are the real new owners of Hotel Metropole property and what are their relationship with Tan Gim Hwa and Gerakan state leaders.
* Is it true that the new owners had been offered P.M8.5 million for the Hotel Metropole property in 1991 which was turned down. If this was the case, why did they subsequently agree to the RM9.5 million price?
*Were state awards like Datukship and PKT part of the quid-pro-quo for the final deal for the RM9.5 million sale of Hotel Metropole to Dolphin Square Sdn. Bhd?
An important aspect which the Public Inquiry should investigate is the role played by Tan Gim Hwa to surreptitiously remove Hotel Metropole from the 1989 MPPP List of 20 Heritage Buildings for Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah and placing it in a new Category II of heritage buildings.
Since the Hotel Metropole scandal last Christmas Day, Penang Gerakan leaders had been telling a lot of lies. Two of these lies are:
Firstly, that Dolphin Sqaure Sdn. Bhd. never knew that Hotel Metropole was a heritage building when it entered into a Sale and Purchase Agreement with Cempaka Sdn. Bhd. in June 1993; and
Secondly, that Hotel Metropole was never designated a MPPP heritage building until October 28 last year when it was placed on a Category Two Heritage List.
Firstly, Gerakan leaders should explain how they know that Dolphin Square Sdn. Bhd. never knew that Hotel Metropole was a heritage building? Isn’t this an inadvertent admission that Gerakan leaders in particular Tan Gim Hwa had in the past and at present have very close and intimate relationship with the new buyers of Hotel Metropole?
I am shocked that Dr. Goh Cheng Teik has also, been forced by Tan Gim Hwa to state in the Assembly during question time that Hotel Metropole had never been designated a MPPP heritage building until October 28, 1993 when it was placed in Category II Heritage List by the MPPP.
DAP allegation that. Tan Gim Hwa surreptiously removed Hotel Metropole from the 1989 MPPP List of 20 Heritage Buildings for Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah before demolition fully justified
I had challenged Tan Gim Hwa in January this year to answer; four questions to prove whether he had surreptiously removed Hotel Metropole from the MPPP List of Heritage Buildings for Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah on October 28, 1993, I said that if he could answer ‘no’ to all the four questions, then I will tender a public apology; while he should publicly apologise if he had to answer ‘yes’ to all the four questions.
The four questions are;
1. Was there a 1989 .MPPP List of 20 Buildings, for Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah which prohibited demolition, alteration or extension?
2. Was Hotel Metropole in this 1989 List of 20 Heritage Buildings for Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah?
3. Was Hotel Metropole removed .from the 1989 MPPP List of 20 Heritage Buildings by the MPPP in October last year and put in a new category, called Category 2 List, which, allowed it to be demolished and redeveloped, provided the facade of its building is preserved?
4. Isn’t it true that there was no public notification or consultation whatsoever before Hotel Metropole was removed from the 1989 MPPP List of 20 Heritage Buildings and placed on the new Category 2 List?
Tan Gim Hwa has to answer ‘yes’ to all the four above questions and this fully justify my allegation that Tan Gim Hwa had surreptiously removed Hotel Metropole from the 1989 MPPP Heritage List in October 1989 – three months after the signing of the Sale and Purchase Agreement, and two months before the Christmas demolition of Hotel Metropole!
In this connection, Tan Gim Hwa should explain why he had overruled the decision of the MPPP Development and Planning Committee on 19th July 1993, to recommend to the full MPPP Council to place Hotel Metropole in Category List 1 – which means no change from its 1989 heritage status, prohibiting demolition, alteration or extension.
Tan Gim Hwa did not present this recommendation to the full MPPP Council. Instead, at the meeting of the MPPP Development and Planning Committee on 6th September 1993, the 19th July decision was overturned and Hotel Metropole was removed from the proposed Category List 1 and placed in Category List 2, and this .new decision .was quickly presented and adopted by the full MPPP Council on October 28, 1993.
Two months later, Hotel Metropole was demolished!
Public Inquiry should investigate whether Tan Gim Hwa had foreknowledge of the Hotel Metropole demolition
The inaction of the MPPP for ten days after the Hotel Metropole demolition on Christmas Day is also highly suspicious. Where was the MPPP President and all the MPPP Councillors, and even the Penang Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon and the State Councillors at the time of the Hotel Metropole demolition?
On 30th December last year, I publicly called on the Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon to take action to stop further demolition of Hotel Metropole – but there was no response whatsoever from Tsu Koon.
I understand that Gim Hwa was overseas when Hotel Metropole was demolished. Was this a coincidence or did he deliberately arrange for himself to be overseas on that date?
The Public Inquiry should investigate whether Tan Gim Hwa had foreknowledge of the Hotel Metropole demolition and whether he had conspired in its demolition.
Gim Hwa had no choice but to announce issuing summons against Hotel Metropole owners because DAP was daily building public pressure against MPPP for inaction
Gerakan leaders like Dr. Koh Tsu Koon and Tan Giro Hwa have claimed that in the case of the demolition of Hotel Metropole, the MPPP had acted faster than two previous demolition of heritage buildings, namely Donnybrook in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah and Lin Radio building in Jalan Burmah.
The Donnybrook building was torn down on February 19, 1990 and the MPPP issued a summons four months later in June 1990 and the owners were fined RM10,000 for the offence.
Lin Radio Building in Jalan Burmah was demolished by the owners on 1st October 1992, and the MPPP took action about two-and-a-half months later on January 1993, and the owners were fined RM40,000.
In the case of Hotel Metropole, MPPP acted faster as on January 5, Tan Gim Hwa announced that MPPP had issued summons against the owners for the Christmas Day demolition.
Tan Gim Hwa had no choice, for everyday after December 30, the DAP was raising the ante in-building pressure for action to be taken on the Hotel Metropole demolition, as illustrated by the following headings of the press statements which I issued during that period:
December 30, 1993: Call on. Chief Minister to direct MPPP President to order halt to demolition;
December 31, 1993: Tan Gim Hwa has created a grave ‘crime’ against conservation and hertiage in surreptiously removing Hotel Metropole from the conservation list and allowing it to be demolished;
1st January 1994: Calls on Chief Minister to freeze on re-appointment’ of MPPP Councillors over Hotel Metropole demolition;
2nd January 1994: Calls on Chief Minister to suspend MPPP President;
3rd January 1994: DAP advises Tsu Koon to show political courage and responsibility as Chief Minister by exercising authority over MPPP President and disregard the fact that Tan Gim Hwa is the Penang Gerakan Chairman;
4th January 1994: DAP calls for emergency State Assembly meeting over Hotel Metropole demolition;
5th January 1994: Call on new owners of Hotel Metropole land to publicly explain whether the demolition of Hotel Metropole was one condition for the RM9.5 million transaction;
6th January 1994: DAP calls for Public Inquiry into Hotel Metropole demolition.
Tan Giro Hwa had therefore no choice but to .announce issuing summons against the Hotel Metropole demolition because the DAP was daily building up public pressure against the MPPP for its inaction.
But are the MPPP and the State Government really serious about the demolition of heritage buildings like Hotel Metropole?
Koh Tsu Koon has become an apologist for the demolition of Hotel Metropole, as he said in the New Straits Times on Tuesday that “the State Government could net force building owners to conserve their buildings as the owner of any building had the right to decide what to do with his property.”
This is a far cry from the Chief Minister whose first public reaction on the Hotel Metropole demolition on 6th January 1994 was to laud the statement by Tan Gim Hwa a day earlier that the new owners had been ordered to rebuild Hotel Metropole to its original condition within six months. Tsu Koon had said’: “The Council’s action is correct. This should serve as a lesson to anyone who wants to demolish buildings meant for conservation.”
Tsu Koon has single-handedly created the Hotel Restoration Scandal
Less than ten days later, however, Tsu Koon single handedly created the Hotel Metropole Restoration Scandal when he said that the new owners need not rebuild the entire Hotel Metro-pole they had demolished but only the facade of the building.
Tsu Koon may next propose that the facade need not be rebuilt in its original site, but can be moved to the front or side of the land concerned, so that they would not be a stumbling block to the full redevelopment and profit maximisation of the land.
Is Tsu Koon advocating that Penang practises ‘facadism’ as replacement of heritage building conservation – where the facade of Hotel Metropole, though it would be a copy when rebuilt, need not be kept at its original site, but could be moved about, and may be later sent to be preserved at some museum?
Are Tan Gim Hwa and Kang Chin Seng prepared to resign from their public positions if Hotel Metropole is not restored to its original condition by July 3?
On January 10, Dr. Kang Chin Seng said in Seremban that the demolition of Hotel Metropole would not be lightly disposed off’ by the Penang State Government and that although there is no original building plan for the demolished heritage building, it cannot be claimed that it could not be restored to its original condition. He said that restoration could be done based on photographs, visuals and oral history.
The six-month deadline for the full restoration of Hotel Metropole expires next month on July 3. Are Tan Gim Hwa and Dr.Kang Chin Seng prepared to resign their public positions if Hotel Metropole is not fully restored by next month?
The demolition of Hotel Metropole is proof that Gerakan leaders are the greatest threat to efforts to preserve Penang’s heritage character to enhance the economic value of old buildings and to promote cultural tourism.
It in fact made a complete mockery of the new State Government policy to encourage heritage development and conservation of historical buildings with economic potential which was announced by the Penang Chief Minister en 5th October 1993 when launching the restoration work of the Syed Alatas Mansion of Armenian Street.
It also violated the Penang Island Structure Plan which identified Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah as one of the areas worthy of conservation because of its unique character and historical importance – a Plan which was formulated following a process of public discussion, consultation and public hearings.
The new owners of Hotel Metropole land and the real; owners of Dolphin Square &dn. Bhd. are a public listed company, which should be responsible pillars of the Penang society as a number of its directors had been awarded the highest Penang State honours by the Gerakan Penang State Government.
DAP calls for the withdrawal of state, honours and titles of directors of the public-listed company which is the real owners of- Dolphin Square Sdn. Bhd. for the demolition of Hotel Metropole
The people of Penang are entitled to ask why’ such a public-listed company and pillars of Penang society are so lacking in corporate responsibility and civic consciousness as to demolish Hotel Metropole and destroy an important part of the heritage, tradition, culture and history of Penang?
Let the directors of this public-listed company and pillars of Penang society appear before a Public Inquiry and justify their most irresponsible and reprehensible demolition of Hotel Metropole.
The Hotel Metropole demolition scandal is a test case as to whether Tsu Koon is serious about promoting cultural tourism and heritage development in Penang.
Tsu Koon will not be serious about cultural tourism and heritage development in Penang unless he takes the following actions:
* Remove Gim Hwa as MPPP President because of the Hotel Metropole demolition scandal;
* Establish a Public ‘inquiry to ascertain whether there had been improprieties, abuses of power and conflict of interest involving Tan Gim Hwa and national and state Gerakan-leaders
* direct MPPP to impose a 20-year freeze on all future development on the Hotel Metropole land as a punishment for the demolition and destruction of the heritage building as well as a deterrent to any other demolition of heritage buildings in Penang in future; and
* Withdraw all State honours and titles from directors and other persons responsible in the public-listed company which is the real owner of Dolphin Square Sdn. Bhd. for the demolition of Hotel Metropole.
The Hotel Metropole demolition is not only a test-case of Tsu Koon as to whether he is serious about cultural tourism and heritage conservation and development, but also another test as to whether he is a Chief Minister in name and in fact.
Yesterday, the Deputy Chief Minister Dr. Ibrahim Saad proved that he is the one who wields the greatest power in the Penang State Government.
Without having to consult either the State Exco or the Chief Minister, Dr. Ibrahim Saad announced in the State Assembly that an inquiry committee would be established into the allegation by the DAP Assemblyman for Datuk Kramat, K. Balasundram about the RM300,000 pay-off for a land conversion in Relau.
I will later in my speech state the DAP’s stand on the invitation by Dr. Ibrahim Saad’s to K. Balasundram to join the inquiry committee. Here I want to point out that what Dr. Ibrahim Saad has announced is not only most commendable, but most remarkable for it is something that Tsu Koon as Chief Minister has never dared to do, and has no power of doing.
Why, for instance, is Tsu Koon not prepared to announce a Public Inquiry into the Hotel Metropole demolition scandal?
Why has Tsu Koon allowed Gerakan leaders to sabotage the presentation of the Penang State Heritage Conservation Enactment Bill
In this connection, Tsu Koon should explain why he had allowed Gerakan leaders to sabotage the presentation of the Penang State Heritage Conservation Enactment Bill.
The drafting of such a bill was one of the earliest, policy decisions of Tsu Koon when he became Chief Minister, and the public was informed in early November 1990 that the Penang Heritage Trust had been asked to prepare such a draft enactment based on the Malacca Heritage Conservation enactment.
In March 1991, the Penang State Government co-organised with the Penang Heritage Trust and the United Nations Centre for Regional Development, Nagoya, Japan a Seminar on Conservation of Penang’s Architectural Heritage.
This Seminar discussed the draft of the Penang State Heritage Conservation Enactment which had been prepared by the Penang Heritage Trust.
At that time, the then Chairman of the Penang Heritage Trust’s draft enactment sub-committee, Dr. Choong Sim Poey, announced in the press on 6th march 1991 that the Penang Heritage Trust was expected to submit its recommendation for the proposed State Heritage Conservation Enactment to the State Government within two weeks.
The draft enactment had been submitted but ‘killed’ because of the objections of powerful Penang Gerakan leaders. Dare Tsu Koon explain the true reasons for the ‘death’ of the draft Penang Heritage Conservation Enactment?
I should deal with the accusation by Tan Gim Hwa that I am trying to get him out of the post of the MPPP President for DAP’s interest. He cannot be more wrong.
If the DAP is thinking solely of what would politically benefit the DAP most in the next general elections. We would want him to remain as MPPP President and would not press the Penang Chief Minister to dismiss him because of-the Hotel Metro-pole and Taman Midlands scandals.
However, we are subordinating our political interest to the public interest when we called for the removal of Tan Gim Hwa as MPPP President.