Penang Island City Council sends letter of justification to landowner regarding demolition of 138-year-old grave

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Exhumation and demolition of the tomb took place on August 28 and his remains were found abandoned at the Jelutong landfill earlier that month. — Photo via Facebook

By Opalyn Mok

Thursday, September 15, 2022 10:03 GMT

GEORGE TOWN, September 15 – The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) has sent a letter of vindication to the owner of the land where the grave of 138-year-old Foo Teng Nyong, the third wife of Kapitan Cina Chung, is located. Keng Kwee, was located.

The city council issued a notice of non-compliance with the conditions stipulated in the exhumation permit to the landowner after the exhumation and demolition of the tomb.

Exhumation and demolition of the tomb took place on August 28 and his remains were found abandoned at the Jelutong landfill earlier that month.

According to MBPP, the owner had applied for an exhumation permit and the permit was issued on March 18 this year with conditions.

Among the conditions set out in the permit, the owner must inform the MBPP of the date of the exhumation at least 10 days in advance and the exhumation work must be carried out under the supervision of an officer of the municipal council.

“The applicant failed to comply with the conditions of the permit, according to which he had carried out the exhumation work on August 28 without informing the city council and without the supervision of a city council officer,” the city council said. in a statement released by his company. communications and public relations department.

Due to failure to comply with the conditions set out in the exhumation permit, the landowner received notice and a show cause letter on 8th September pursuant to Section 97(2) of the Local Government Act 1976.

The landowner is required to respond to the show cause letter within seven days of the date of the notice.

“Further action, including taking the owner to court, will be taken if the owner fails to comply with the Notice of Non-Compliance and Demonstration Letter,” he said.

The city council also confirmed that the landowner had not submitted any building permit application, so no building permit was approved for any development on the site.

Foo and Chung’s great-grandson, Jeffery Seow, had petitioned the Penang Heritage Board to protect Foo’s tomb from demolition earlier this year after the landowner posted an exhumation notice in newspapers.

He criticized the local authorities for their lack of action in protecting the tomb from demolition.

“How does Penang honor and give thanks to the man known as the greatest philanthropist of his time, who gave so much to Malaysia and Penang? We allow the 138-year-old grave he built for his wife to be desecrated and destroyed and her remains to be unceremoniously dumped in a pauper’s grave in Batu Gantong! he had posted on his Facebook recently.

He had also asked the authorities to demand that the landowner restore the grave and that Foo’s remains be reinterred in the original site.

He called on the state government to designate Foo’s tomb as a heritage site, while taking steps to designate the land and tomb of Chung Thye Phin, Foo’s son, nearby as a heritage site.

Khoo Salma of the Penang Heritage Trust called the exhumation and demolition “first rate vandalism”.

She pointed out that Foo was also the mother of Chung Thye Phin, another important historical figure in Penang and Perak.

“Is this how Penang with its Unesco sites treats its heritage? The remains of Madame Foo deposited in Batu Gantong, the carved stones of her tomb in the dumps of Jelutong and where are her precious jewels? she asked.

Foo was one of the many wives of Chung Keng Quee (also known as Chung Keng Kwee) and she was the mother of Chung Siew Ying, Chung Thye Phin and Chung Thye Chong.

She was the aunt of Foo Choo Choon, known as the Tin King of Malaya, and was believed to have been instrumental in securing employment for Choo Choon in her husband’s mines, which launched Choo Choon’s career in tin mining.

Chung Keng Quee was the largest tin mine owner and employer of labor in Malaysia. In 1887 he was Perak’s largest tin producer.

He was dubbed the founder and administrator of modern Taiping and was named Kapitan China by the British in 1877.

His and Foo’s son Chung Thye Phin served in the Perak State Council until 1927 and was also known as the last Kapitan Cina of Perak.

Foo Teng Nyong died in 1884, so the tomb is essentially older than Hye Kee Chan, now known as Pinang Peranakan Mansion, at 29 Church Street, which is protected within the UNESCO World Heritage Site .

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