Another grave development, again in the Batu Lanchang area. This is for a project involving terrace and bungalow houses and a low-cost component, a high-rise block.
A private family graveyard, Kam Cementry, at Lorong Batu Lanchang, Lot 54, Section 5, is at risk, and 56 graves, the oldest dating back 180 years, could be exhumed. With speculation driving up property prices, it is not surprising that developers want to capitalise on prevailing market prices. Unhappy descendants have taken legal action. But the MPPP, for its part, claims that all procedures have been followed in the development application.
This report from theSun:
Demolition begins in Batu Lanchang cemetery
GEORGE TOWN (March 9, 2011): A developer granted permission to dig up 56 historic graves at Batu Lanchang here began exhuming the tombs today even as some descendants made frantic appeals to save their ancestors’ burial sites.
Ee Heap’s great grandsons Yeoh Cheang Pew, 80, (left), Cheang Huat, 65,
(second left) and other members of the family at the cemetery.
A demolition team descended on the hilly Hokkien cemetery that houses numerous tombs dating back more than a century, after Taoist priests had performed prayers at the graves in the morning.
The descendants of trading patriarch Yeoh Ee Yeap, who lived during the early 1800s, rushed from Teluk Intan to meet with the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) over its decision to allow Jiran Bina Sdn Bhd to exhume the graves for a development project.
In January this year, another developer had exhumed the tomb of respected community leader Koh Seang Tatt and his wife, who also lived in the 1800s, on a different hillock in Batu Lanchang.
Seang Tatt’s tomb was among about 23 that have been approved for exhumation for a residential development project planned on the site.
Local historian Tan Kim Hong, who was present today, called the demolition a “great loss” to Penang’s heritage.
“An important page of Penang history has been torn out,” he lamented. “We could depend much on the inscriptions on the graves for epigraphical evidence into Penang’s early history.”
He said the extensive cemetery was jointly used by at least six clans and housed many important Hokkien leaders, including Lim Koh Shen, Lim Mah Ee and Tan Hap Sui who lived in the 1800s.
The demolition list included the ornate tomb of philanthropist businessman Tan Gim Kheng, whose family was involved in the founding of the Penang Chinese Town Hall in 1881.
Yeoh Ee Yeap’s great grandson Yeoh Cheang Huat, 65, who came with his elder brother Cheang Pew, 80, said the family had appealed to Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow, the chief minister’s political secretary Ng Wei Aik and the MPPP’s licensing department to defer the demolition of their ancestors’ graves.
The family also asked the state to help initiate a dialogue with the developer, whom they claimed had refused to talk to them. The developer had instead told them to refer to its lawyer.
The family also said they had sent several letters to the state government, and met Chow in February but he had then assured that no decision had been made.
They questioned why the MPPP had given approval before the courts have even decided on a legal dispute currently taking place over the land.
When contacted, Ng said the court case was not related to the issue of the exhumation. He also said the state did not have any record of who the descendants are.
“The developer as the landowner can apply for exhumation, and if procedures are followed and the application is in compliance with necessary requirements, the council can issue the approval,” he said.