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Thursday July 8, 2010

Locals and tourists celebrate second anniversary of heritage listing

GEORGE TOWN: The George Town Festival 2010 got off to a rousing start as locals and tourists took advantage of the public holiday here to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Pearl of the Orient.

Despite the drizzle, they turned up at the Town Hall in Esplanade as early as 8am yes-terday for the launch of the second anniversary celebration of George Town’s joint listing with Malacca as Unesco World Heritage Site.

This is the first year that the occasion is marked with a public holiday.

The month-long festival is to create awareness on the importance of preserving, protecting and promoting George Town’s heritage.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who launched the celebration, said the state government had set up George Town World Heritage Incorporated, whose main objective was to manage the site by working with all the stakeholders.

After the opening ceremony, Lim flagged off the heritage “trea-shaw” hunt, which saw participants hopping onto trishaws to explore food, costumes and buildings in George Town.

This was followed by a visit to the Logan Memorial – a tribute to 19th century lawyer and ethnologist James Richardson Logan – which stands in front of the new seven-storey court building.

Later, Lim also rode on a pony cart with 20 trishaws with other invited guests following him on a heritage enclave trail.

Australian Adam Houston, 31, who was there with girlfriend Sandra Williams, 27, said he was fortunate to be in Penang at a time when many events were taking place in conjunction with the festival.

“By a stroke of luck, we are able to enjoy not only the cultural aspect of the city but also its heritage,” he said.

The day-long extravaganza, themed “Streets Come Alive — Unforgettable George Town”, also saw many of the heritage zone’s sites and attractions opened to the public free-of-charge.

In Malacca, the anniversary was marked by special thanksgiving prayers at the 17th century Masjid Kampung Keling along Jalan Tukang Emas, followed by a procession of some 60 antique bicycles - led by state Governor Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob - along the famous “Harmony Street” past several landmarks in the heart of the city.

Riding through time: Tun Mohd Khalil participating in a procession of antique bicycles through the heart of the historic city last night. Also taking part in the procession was Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam (left) and state leaders who donned traditional costumes of the local communities.

Hundreds of guests later thronged the Independence Memorial to watch a performance held by the Munshi Abdullah Musical Theater, culminating in a fireworks display.

The state has lined up 59 events to commemorate the occasion, including seminars, traditional performances, dances and games and the screening of popular old Malay, Chinese and Indian movies.

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