Concern over Western Road burial plots ad

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They may worship in separate churches belonging to different denominations, but in death they share the same cemetery in Western Road in Penang. Now, an ad inserted in the local press requiring those with burial rights and relatives of the deceased to register with the MPPP has raised consternation among segments of the local Christian community.

It was the bit about the one-month deadline to register “failing which MPPP would take necessary actions to repossess the burial plots for use” that created something of a stir. See theSun report here and a letter from a concerned reader here who asked, “I am of the opinion that MPPP only has the right to ask descendants, family members and their appointed personal representatives to re-affirm ownership of burial plots. But that is the most that they can legally do. MPPP does not have any legal right to seize old burial plots even if nobody comes forward to re-register claim.”

I got in touch with a couple of MPPP councillors to find out what was going on. Here’s what I learned:

The Western Road cemetery land belongs to the MPPP. The Catholic and Protestant Churches each contribute just RM2,000 per year to the Council for the management of the cemetery. The Council has been holding meetings with representatives from both these groups – each represented by three members.

The cemetery has been poorly managed, even neglected. Quite a few ‘funny’ things are going on. It’s almost like a free for all, with no proper system of managing who is buried there. Mosquitoes are breeding too.

Now, the Council wants to improve the management of the place, and one of the priorities is to look into the records of the burials. Apparently, there were bulk purchases of burial plots for which no names were recorded for the individual plots in the register. Also, there are empty burial plots scattered around the cemetery for which the ownership is unknown. It is these that the Council is focusing on.

The ad, probably drafted by a bureaucrat, refers to just a preliminary registration exercise. This exercise will be ongoing, and the MPPP is even thinking of extending the registration to occasions like All Souls Day, when relatives come to pay their respects to deceased family members. The MPPP also wants the churches to play a more pro-active role in the management and improvement of the place. The churches have agreed to create awareness among their Christian communities on what can be done to improve the management of the cemetery.

Among the improvements the Council is considering: an updated register, better control over burial plots,  a new columbarium, better security, the installation of lighting at night, sealing up of flower jars, etc that could be potential mosquito breeding sites.

I think MPPP needs to come out and reassure the Christian community that their burial plots are safe. It was a bad ad that only raised alarm.

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lily lee chooi lean

I live in KL. I panicked this morning (10 Oct 2011) when I heard from a friend that families who have relatives buried at Western Rd.Cemetery need to produce proof of thepurchase of the burial plot. For crying out loud, my mum died in 1949 when my siblings and I were just tiny tots, my dad has since passed on. Where on earth am I to get any proof of the purchase of the plot? Now, going through the website, it is merely a ‘gotong royong’ that is being called and also an attempt to set up better records of… Read more »

John Ling

“i may offend a lot of people to say this – i actually dont care about the dead, i only care about the living…” Indeed. The dead on Western Road paid the ultimate sacrifice so that thoughtless (people) like yourself can now enjoy the freedom to spit on all that is sacred. Ironic. I can assure you, if you were living under the iron-fisted rule of a Communist premiere or the Emperor of Japan today, you would enjoy no such privilege. Fact: a society is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable. And that includes the dead, who… Read more »

Andrew

Video about western cemetery:

kee

Yes, Gelak K, yahoo… early christmas gift… i may offend a lot of people to say this – i actually dont care about the dead, i only care about the living… i hardly visit my dad’s graveyard but my dad is always at my heart… it took me 10 years to ease the pain of his demise… i surely miss my dad, a lot… now, i am glad that he is at a better place… but i really wanted to tell him so much about 308… i know dad will be glad to hear that… may i add, we should… Read more »

Gerakan K

Yo, you got it my friend !!! I’m glad you got it.

This is the package of consequences by supporting Pakatan Rakyat.

And don’t cry quietly behind everyone just like Kg Buah Pala miracle.

By the way, I expect more respect and sensible decisions by Penang Pakatan Rakyat government to the dead ones.

You just can’t do anything as you wish regardless of how many you will receive because there is karma waiting for you.

Stay clean for the dead ones and also to deities.

Yang

Gerakan K, Forget about Kg Buah Pala. Those 9 who cried they deserved it. … they wanted 3 millions, they can get it from Mic Samy, UMNO Najib or Gerakan KTK. And their cries would not be heard from their saviour BN-UMNO and you. The rest who has already signed the agreement, their house would be worth at least RM600,000/= when its ready. Thats the market value as stated in the property news earlier. Now LGE and PR shall be going down to Kg Pulau, Perak road to negotiate a higher compensation for them. This is what we called a… Read more »

John Ling

How ungrateful and sacrilegious. If it wasn’t for the sacrifices of Commonwealth forces, Malaysians would be living a very different existence today.

These young men fought and suffered and died so that you folks now have the privilege of forgetting. So much for esteemed Asian values and remembering one’s roots, eh? Good on you. Outstanding. You’re setting a great example for your kids.

Gerakan K

What a Pakatan Rakyat Penang State Government !!!

Congratulation to voters that voted PR. This is your early Christmas present !!!

Please do receive it with a big smile as that is from Pakatan Rakyat.

Yang

Its not such a big deal to fuss about. After all MPPP is just trying to make improvement to the cemetery unlike the current state of affair which is very bad.This is MPPP land. Whether its under BN or Pakatan or any other government, in another 20, 30 or 50 years from now the cemetery will have to go in land scarce Penang. Look at Singapore and you will understand. Years from now there won`t be any burial but more and more cremation.In fact the Chinese and most other with the exception of muslim are on to cremation. So we… Read more »

Gerakan K

What I’m observing now is LGE reaction to this issue. In previous grave issue, LGE fought with force and ferocity.

Now ???

ghkok

Sorry … what is your expectation of LGE in this case ?

tunglang

Another kind of legalised land grab! This time it is land grabs from the dead!!!
How I wish the dead can rise up and scream [email protected]#fk!

pavlova

Quite disrespectful. Many of the buried were fallen soldiers who were fighting the Communists in Malaya. Many of the soldiers were British, Australian, NZ and even some Gurkas. Their relatives did not even know that they were buried in Penang. How are they supposed to show their “burial rights” if these relatives didn’t even know they were buried here in the first place? During Anzac day, there were a few documentaries about the living relatives of these soldiers who served and sacrificed their lives in Malaya but they have tried to locate where their bodies were buried but to no… Read more »

tunglang

Smell fishy, rotten fishy.
Why can’t they (MPPP) wait till Resurrection (Day) or Rapture of these saints and sleeping souls? By then these graves will be empty for the world to marvel the miracles of God.

Racheljansz

Where am I going to find ‘evidence’ of fees paid!!!
My ancestors have been buried there for more than 3 decades!

ksl

certainly there must be a record particularly those buried not too long ago. mppp should be able to identify those with no records. just open the reeipt books of the transaction and they should be all there instead of putting a blanket on every plot. kind of pushing their inefficiencies and mismanagement to the next of kin.

wandererAUS

I smell something fishy….let the dead rest in peace and undisturbed! Is is the fault of some of the dead if they have no decedents to claim the graves? Will these “little napoleons” try the same trick in many abandoned malay cemetery?

Andrew Aeria

Anil, a few points. 1. Improvements to Western Rd Cemetery by MPPP are most welcome. 2. MPPP threatening relatives and family with seizure of graves – even if notice was written by a bumbling bureaucrat – is NOT welcome. 3. How about asking MPPP to make an official clarification of its real intentions re. Western Road cemetery instead of reporting what some powerless Councillors told you? 4. Actions like this suggest to me that this state government talks about CAT but essentially does not believe in being competent, accountable or even transparent. Indeed, adverts like this suggest they prefer to… Read more »

ghkok

Dear Andrew,

In response to point no. 4, I would say that “actions like these show how difficult it is for the State Govt to implement its CAT principle in the face of the civil servants, eg MPPP personnel, who are still operating in line with past BN practices which ignores the rakyat”. That would be a more accurate reflection of the situation. Having said that, i think the Pakatan govt should work harder to instill the CAT philosophy into the minds of the civil servant. It takes time but I’m sure eventually they’ll see the wisdom in it.

SamG

Perfectly fine exercise, I would say. While the undertakers have maintained very good records, some cleaning up is necessary.
The Christian community is running out of burial plots in the city, and the nearest one is in Teluk Kumbar/Balik Pulau area.
If there are unused or unclaimed plots, why notgo thru’ the proper process, to make it available for the others?