Demand A Full Public Apology From Boon Ah Soo And The Jonker Walk Committee For Calling Me A Traitor To The Chinese By Calling For The Resignation Of Datuk Gan Boon Leong Over The Issue Of The Demolition Of 3 Shophouses In Jonker Walk

Press Statement
Betty Chew Gek Gheng

(Melaka, Saturday):  I demand a full and unconditional public apology from Boon Ah Soo and the Jonker Walk Committe for their calling me a traitor to the Chinese in calling for the resignation of Datuk Gan Boon Leong as Jonker Walk Committee Chairman over the issue of the demolition of 3 shophouses in Jonker Walk. Boon Ah Soo and the Jonker Walk Committee had issued a statement published in the Chinese press today: claimed that when the Jonker Walk Committee was first formed I had called for Datuk Gan Boon Leong to be replaced by a non-Chinese lecturer as Chairman. They added that by repeating the call for Datuk Gan's resignation now over the demolition of 3 shophouses, will I only be satisfied when a non-Chinese can take over the development of Jonker Walk? As such, is it necessary for a comparable vicious step similar to that of the Ming Dynasty General Wu San Kuei who betrayed his country by allowing the Manchurian Ching army to enter China.

This is no different from calling me a traitor similar to General Wu San Kuei. I had never called for Datuk Gan be replaced by a non-Chinese (refer to my statement dated 11.5.2001). I had said repeatedly that a professional expert on conservation and historical heritage should be appointed. There was no mention of race. I would have no objections to a Malay professor on historical conservation, who would be better than Datuk Gan based on his academic credentials. However there must be also a Chinese expert as the vast majority residents of Jonker Walk are Chinese. After all an Islamic expert who is a Muslim is necessary when conserving Muslim heritage.

For Boon Ah Soo to claim that I insisted on a non-Chinese as a Chairman is a lie, a dangerous lie because he is trying to racialise a conservation issue which is non-racial. Why is MCA so chauvinistic that it does not allows heritage conservationists who happens to be Malays to get involved in Jonker Walk on racial ground. This heritage belongs to all Malaysians whether Chinese, Malay or Indian and its preservation should be participated by all. The main condition is that our historical cultural heritage is preserved.

Clearly this attempt at racialisation is a desperate act to deflect criticism over the government's and Datuk Gan's failure to protect the three shophouses. For Boon Ah Soo, the Jonker Walk Committee and MCA to label me as a traitor to the Chinese when I am fighting for a on-racial approach to the preservation of our heritage is highly reckless, irresponsible and a great disservice to the Malaysian spirit. I am not a traitor to the Chinese, Malays, Indian or Malaysians. For such a slur of traitor against me, I demand a full and unconditional public apology from Boon Ah Soo and the Jonker Walk Committee failing which I will take other necessary action.

There are many other lies which are typical of MCA. Boon Ah Soo claimed that the Jonker Walk Committee is only responsible for cultural events and beautification of Jonker to attract tourism whilst heritage protection is the responsibility of MPMBB Heritage Commitee. If that is true then why did Datuk Gan insist all shophouses paint the same colour, a step that was criticised by United Nations conservation architect Elizabeth Vines as it did not preserve the original historical colour.

Furthermore, Boon Ah Soo should not forget that as a MPMBB councillor, he is also a member of the MPMBB Heritage Committee and is therefore accountable for the demolition of the 3 shophouses to the. Or is Boon Ah Soo and the MPMBB Heritage Committee sleeping?

Another lie is that I should resign for being responsible for the destruction of the 6 shophouses in Jalan Temenggong. This is ridiculous as it is the residents that asked for the place to be cleaned of bushes and lallang. When the shophouses were demolished, I had pressed for action to be taken but there was no response from MPMBB. Whose fault is it? Has Boon Ah Soo forgotten that I am not the government? If I am the government I would definitely resign to assume full responsibility. Why should I resign for the government's negligence or failure to act?


* Betty Chew Gek Cheng, DAP Melaka Wanita Chairman And Durian Daun State Assemblywoman