CHINESE in Malacca, site of the first recorded links between China and the Malay rulers of what is now peninsular Malaysia, have expressed outrage over the destruction by developers of the grave of an early community leader. Almost 200 years after Chua Su Cheong, Kapitan China or head man of the Chinese community, was buried in a Malacca cemetery, his grave and remains have been dug up to make way for a housing project. Rapid development, especially along the palm-fringed foreshore, is changing the languid face of Malacca, the oldest town in Malaysia, which has historical links with Portugal and the Netherlands, as well as China, through successive invaders. The Kapitan China system was introduced by the Portuguese after they seized Malacca in 1511 and retained by the Dutch and British during their colonial eras. The Chinese headman and his counterparts among the Malays, Arabs and Indians served as intermediaries between the colonial authorities and the different racial communities. Kuala Lumpur, which began as a tin mining centre, also had its Kapitan China, who were traditionally from the Hakka community and usually triad chiefs. Born in 1750, Kapitan Chua is said to have made important contributions to the development of Malacca and was the force behind the construction of a local landmark, the Poh San Teng Temple, at the foot of Bukit China (China Hill), and the restoration of another older temple. He died in 1802. State Tourism Development and Culture chairman, Poh Ah Tiam, said the Malacca State Government was not aware that the grave was scheduled for destruction. 'I feel very sad that a grave of historical significance to the state and the Chinese community has been dug up unceremoniously,' he said. Lim Guan Eng, state secretary of the opposition Democratic Action Party, accused the developer of 'desecrating the grave in pursuit of profit' and 'destroying the historical and cultural heritage of the Chinese community'.