Najib's announcement of scrapping of Batu Caves condo project if BN wins Selangor desecrates Deepavali

Despite the screaming headlines, "S'gor BN to scrap Batu Caves condo if we win" (Malaysiakini), "Najib promises Indians no Batu Caves condo if BN regains Selangor" (The Malaysian Insider), "PM: We'll scrap Batu Caves project if we win Selangor" (New Straits Times); "Najib: Return Selangor to Barisan and Batu Caves ground will be safe" (Star) and "PM: Bt Caves development will stop if BN regains S'gor" (Sun), the first reaction of fair-minded, reasonable and patriotic Malaysians is one of distinct unease and discomfort, even feeling of being repelled by an inchoate sense that something is wrong or just not right in what the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had done.

Why is this so? Why are these people, who want the 29-storey Dolomite Park Avenue condominium project to be scrapped, not welcoming Najib's announcement with open arms and unqualified support?

This is also my immediate response. In 1980, I had announced a "DAP Save Batu Caves Campaign" to join forces with all conservationist and environmental groups to save the 500 million-year-old Malaysian natural heritage and the religious shrine of 800,000 Hindus in Malaysia by stopping all quarrying activities at Batu Caves.

Having saved Batu Caves once, DAP and Pakatan Rakyat would have no hesitation to spearhead another "Save Batu Caves Campaign" as a result of the MIC/BN approval of the 29-storey condo project in Batu Caves in 2007.

However, DAP and Pakatan Rakyat have not launched a second "Save Batu Caves Campaign" as the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor State Government has immediately issued a "stop work" order as the condominium project should not have been approved by the Barisan Nasional authorities in 2007 as for example, objections of the state Department of Environment (DOE) had been ignored.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has announced an independent task force to examine the issues surrounding the 29-storey Dolomite Avenue Park condo project in Batu Caves and to make recommendations to the Selangor State Government how best to safeguard the sacred site while allowing development in the surrounding areas.

Why then should Najib's announcement that the Dolomite Avenue Park condo project would be scrapped if BN retakes Selangor create a sense of unease, discomfort and even a repelling feeling, when it is an end everybody wanted?

This is because Najib's announcement of scrapping of Batu Caves condo project if BN wins Selangor is not a "triumph of light over darkness", of truth over deceit, or good over evil, but the continued spreading of darkness to prevent the triumph of light.

It causes unease, discomfort and a repelling feeling because it desecrates the essence and spirit of Deepevali.

Yesterday, I had sought public views on my blog on their responses to Najib's announcement. The following is a sample of these views:

  1. "If Selangor did not fall into Pakatan's hands in 2008, there would have been a condominium now...Remember TBH (Teoh Beng Hock). He also promised to leave NO STONES UNTURNED. TBH is still turning in his grave."

  2. "This has to be a wake-up call to all Indians. Najib is trying to take you for a ride. First, BN steals the rakyat's money, and when exposed, they promise to pay back the money provided they win Selangor. We all know that Najib has zero leadership qualities, but to make a pledge like that during Diwali?"

  3. "FIRST, umno whacked you black and blue.
    NEXT, umno promised to let you have some medication.
    AND FOR THAT, you are supposed to feel mighty grateful; and give umno all your nambekei and more importantly, your vote too."

  4. "Right now whatever he promises - whether to proceed or reverse- apart from whether or not subsequent deed will honour the promise - is not dictated by right or wrong having regard to balancing all competing considerations but by whether or not the promises will secure more votes that they alienate. Electoral victory and preservation of his position that he cannot afford to lose are the imperatives in his mind, and hence this purely populist approach to issues. Nothing else."

  5. "BN is now becoming a comedy. They have lost their marbles / senses. Create the problem, then scraps it, ignoring the cost to the people who bought. This is totally irresponsible. They want to win so badly, by hook or by crook."

There is no doubt that Najib's announcement has left a bad taste in the mouth of all right-thinking and decent Malaysians, desecrating the sacred day of Deepavali!

Najib would have come over with greater honesty and rectitude if he had publicly apologised for MIC/BN approval of the 29-storey condominium project in Batu Caves in 2007, identified and punished all the MIC/BN councillors and leaders responsible for the project (nobody would believe that top MIC/BN leaders were not involved in giving the green light for such a project), as well as declare what would be the MIC/BN contributions to undo the 2007 MIC/BN approval for the condo project, as for instance how much MIC/BN would contribute if there is any element of financial compensation involved.

Let all MIC/BN leaders, whether national or state, who had given their approval to the 29-storey condo project in Batu Caves in 2007 step forward to confess their roles.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur