When Samy Vellu promised in Parliament on Monday to bring the issue and controversy of the 100-year-old Sungei Besi cemetries to the Prime Minister's attention during this week’s Cabinet meeting, the people most upset were the MCA Ministers.
The MCA Ministers quickly swung into action and succeeded in arm-twisting Samy Vellu into allowing them to publicly claim the next day that Samy Vellu had bungled as he did not understand the full background of the issue of the relocation of the Kuala Lumpur Kwangtung cemetry, and that he would not raise the issue in Cabinet but would wait for MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik to return from South America to pursue the matter.
This was announced by the MCA Vice President and Minister for Housing and Local Government, Datuk Ong Ka Ting to reporters in Parliament on Tuesday, fully supported by other MCA big-guns including MCA Vice President Datuk Chan Kong Choy, MCA Youth leader Datuk Ong Tee Kiat and MCA Central Committee members, Tan Chai Ho, Chor Chee Heung and Han Choon Kam.
It is fortunate that Samy Vellu did not wait for Liong Sik to return from South America to take over the issue, as the MCA President might "do a Bukit China" when he was the MCA leader most active in support of the then Malacca Chief Minister, Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Cik, in the Malacca state government proposal in 1984 to demolish the Bukit China cementry hill and relocate its 12,500 graves. If Liong Sik had his way, there would be no Bukit China in Malacca today!
I understand that the MCA Ministers were completely stunned when Samy Vellu went ahead in the Cabinet yesterday to raise the issue of the relocation of the Kwangtung, Hokkien, Roman Catholic, Sri Lankan Buddhist and Japanese cemeteries and a Hindu crematorium and secured the agreement of the Prime Minister to reverse the Cabinet decision of 1998 to relocate them to Semenyih.
This explained for the confusion in the public responses of MCA Ministers on the issue after the Cabinet, putting them in a spot as to how best to react so as to be able to claim that the Cabinet decision was the result of the "vigorous" representations of the MCA Ministers, when only a day earlier, they had publicly humiliated Samy Vellu by claiming the MIC President’s ignorance on the issue and announced that the MCA would only pursue the issue in Cabinet after Liong Sik had returned from South America.
It is to Samy Vellu’s credit that he resisted MCA arm-twisting to get the Cabinet to reverse its 1998 decision on the Sungei Besi cemetries, but it is a political tragedy of the first magnitude that it is now confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that one MIC Minister is better than four MCA Ministers and one Gerakan Minister combined - a crying 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.
Ong Ka Ting should publicly apologise to Samy Vellu for announcing in Parliament on Tuesday that Samy Vellu did not understand the Kwangtung cemetry relocation issue - and all the four MCA Ministers should publicly apologise for their failure to be as effective as one MIC Minister.