Penang Chief Minister Praises Heritage Efforts in its State

Chief Minister of Penang also secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) Lim Guan Eng speaks during a press conference at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur on March 9, 2015. The Malaysian Insider/Najjua Zulkefli

Talking to Malaysian newspaper “Malaysian Insider”, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng could only praise the conservation efforts done by the State of Penang for protecting heritage. The efforts done by Penang Administration recently received praise from UNESCO.

Talking to the Malaysian Insider, Penang Chief Minister indicated to the reporter that Penang has done a “better job than what was expected” in preserving and protecting its heritage. He explained thaat the authorities in charge of heritage – George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) and the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) – had been doing their part to preserve and protect heritage in the city.

“We have the best run heritage unit, but of course, we are still learning. But if you see the face of heritage conservation and what we have done in the last seven years, I think you would say we have done a better job than expected,” he told The Malaysian Insider in a recent interview.

As an example, he cited the restoration of the colonial Wisma Yeap Chor Ee in Weld Quay which now housed the Accelerator for Creative, Analytics & Technology (@CAT), Creative Animation Triggers (CAT) and science cafe. The building is now an excellent example of the ability to combine together heritage and science. The State Minister rejected critics from some heritage activists that too little has been done to enforce protection laws for heritage historical buildings.

Activist Mark Lay, who works with George Town Heritage Action group, recently told reporters that there was a lack of monitoring and enforcement by the authorities in UNESCO heritage zones. Lay points out to badly done renovation works using modern material such cement instead of lime or the transformation of too many old structures into boutique hotels or coffee shops. With the consequence of chasing away people living for decades in some of the city’s area.

Commenting on this, Lim said there were pros and cons in the situation.

“When you open cafes, the buildings are restored according to the guidelines. If we don’t allow them to open such businesses, the old structures don’t get restored. Sometimes, it is a chicken and egg argument. How do you find a balance? What we do is make sure the buildings are not destroyed but properly preserved and protected,” Penang State Minister admitted to the newspaper.

(Source: Malaysian Insider)