Category: George Town.

Penang’s heritage in dire need of protection, says NGO

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government’s “lack of political will” has resulted in serious destruction of architectural heritage in the inner city, the Cultural Heritage Advisory Group (Chat) said.

Some 80% of the 70-odd buildings in the Unesco World Heritage Site currently undergoing repairs and renovations has no approval from relevant authorities and is not adhering to heritage guidelines, Chat spokesman Janet Pillai said.

She added that Chat had raised these issues and presented its findings to the state.

“We have even highlighted it to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. The Penang Municipal Council’s building inspectors keep issuing notices for non-compliance.

Preserving history: Buildings in the heritage enclave in Penang such as these need to follow council by-laws and heritage guidelines.

“When it’s time for the enforcement officers to act, they say it’s too late to do anything and push it to the legal department.

“Meanwhile, we are losing more of our heritage,” she said yesterday.

Property owners have “broken every possible building rule and that’s not even taking into account the heritage guidelines”, Pillai added.

“When we told Lim about this, his response was that no action would be taken (for now) because there would be too many political implications.

“We have no choice but to go to the press because no one is willing to step up and be custodians of our heritage. Chat cannot because we do not have the statutory powers to act,” she said, adding that the situation was “critical”.

When contacted, State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the council would have to study the legal aspects of the by-laws to see why action could not be taken earlier.
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Category: George Town
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