Sungei Besi Cemetries: MCA Ministers only good at bullying MIC

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Wednesday): On Monday, MIC President and Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu had promised to bring the issue and controversy of the 100-year-old Sungei Besi cemetries to the Prime Minister's attention during the Cabinet meeting today, giving the clear impression that one MIC Minister is better than four MCA Ministers and one Gerakan Minister combined - which  is a shame  to MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and the other three MCA Ministers, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, Datuk Ong Ka Ting and Datuk Fong Chan Onn.

This is because the five MCA/Gerakan Ministers have not only failed to heed the stand of the Chinese community and those of other ethnic and religious groups in opposing the shift of the century-old cemetries from Old Airport Road in Kuala Lumpur,  they had supported the Cabinet decision made two years ago to relocate the cemetries to Semenyih without any public consultation whatsoever.

It is another crying shame that  the MCA Ministers had succeeded in arm-twisting Samy Vellu from raising the century-old cemetries controversy at the Cabinet today, which appears to be the only thing they are good at - bullying MIC.

The reply in Parliament yesterday by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, Hashim Ismail, that the relocation of the cemetries along Jalan Sungei Besi and Jalan Loke Yew in Kuala Lumpur would be done in five phases by Pribena Construction Sdn. Bhd is clear proof  of the Cabinet decision to relocate the cemetries, which contain the graves of historical figures such as Kapitan Yap  Ah Loy and the burial grounds of various ethnic and religious groups such as Kwang Tung Association, Hokkein Association, Roman Catholic, Sri Lankan Buddhist  and Japanese cemeteries  and a Hindu crematorium.

As the MCA Ministers had agreed in Cabinet to the relocation of the Sungei Besi cemetries, they had been most irresponsible in  arm-twisting Samy Vellu from raising the issue in Cabinet today on the ground of the absence of the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik and that the MCA would take heed of the views of the Chinese community.

Fifteen years ago, the MCA also took "heed of the views of the Chinese community" and supported the proposed demolition of the Bukit China cemetry hill in Malacca, with Liong Sik leading the MCA faction supporting the "redevelopment" of Bukit China into a money-making commercial centre.

As the Chinese community as well as other ethnic and religious groups with cemetries in Sungei Besi have made clear their opposition to the relocation to Semenyih, the Cabinet should at the latest by next Wednesday reverse its earlier decision to relocate the Sungei Besi cemetries and declare them a national cultural heritage on historic, cultural and environmental grounds.

*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman