Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stop illegal work on heritage buildings

Recently there was an appeal for Penang state government to ensure the heritage property owners comply with the guidelines when renovating their buildings. If you walk around the Heritage Zone,you will find many old buildings are undergoing renovation or even rebuilding, but it seems that the the state has no capability to monitor the situation. Some of the renovated buildings were painted with bold colours, some were far from the original design, some even import the design from China(including antique doors which do not match with the original design)e.g. a restaurant in Kimberley Street was way out from the original design of the typical shop houses in Penang. Some of them with promotion structure nearly covered the architecture beauty of the old shop houses, some changed the window panels to modern windows, .... and the true face of old shop houses not seems to reappearing , but disappearing....

We hope that Penang Local Government and Traffic Management Committee, if it is under their jurisdiction should be alert and take action quick. Again, I appeal for set up of "heritage police" or monitoring unit to monitor the situation daily. This is possible as the city is not big, and fact action can be taken before the building was tear down or raped unknowingly.

The state should encourage the set up of Friends of George Town or Friends of Penang, as a non- profit organization where the citizens can be an eyes for the state to report any breach in guideline on heritage buildings(not even Heritage, also our beaches, our food cleanliness, our ferry, our Penang Hill, our Botanical Garden). Activities can be conducted by the organization to bring awareness, like PHT. They can work with PHT on conservation projects. PHT may be more academic and professional orientated, the Friends of George Town will be more grassroots level organization and activities based.

State cannot act alone, it needs participation of the citizen; building conservation is the way of life in Penang; both the state government and the people.

PHT: Penang has to stop illegal work on heritage buildings


The Star dated January 2, 2010(Saturday)

GEORGE TOWN: It is imperative that the Penang government beefs up enforcement to ensure that heritage property owners here comply with guidelines when renovating their buildings.

Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) said the move was necessary to avoid further damage to the buildings which it claimed had reached a “critical” level.

Its president, Khoo Salma Nasution, said that although the issue was a long-standing one, it now required urgent attention as George Town had attained Unesco World Heritage listing.

She said the state government was required to prepare a special area plan to be submitted to Unesco in 2011.

“Firstly, the state needs to quickly set up a professional heritage management committee within the World Heritage Office.

“There are only two workers seconded to the office, excluding its head Maimunah Mohd Sharif. The people hired must be qualified and experienced in conservation works,” Khoo Salma said yesterday.

She was commenting on a newspaper report quoting Cultural Heritage Advisory Group (Chat) spokesman Janet Pillai as saying the Penang government’s lack of political will had resulted in serious destruction of architectural heritage in the inner city.

Pillai had said that some 80% of the 70-odd buildings in the Unesco World Heritage Site currently undergoing repairs and renovations had no approval from relevant authorities and were not adhering to heritage guidelines.

Penang Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said he was aware that there were many people carrying out renovation works without approval from the Penang Municipal Council.

He appealed to heritage property owners at the site to seek planning approval from the council before carrying out any structural work.


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