Penang's Thai Pak Koong temple wins Unesco heritage conservation award


A festive scene at the Thai Pak Koong temple in Tanjung Tokong in Penang during Chinese New Year in 2015. Photo: The Star/Lim Beng Tatt

The 211-year-old Thai Pak Koong (Ng Suk) Temple in King Street in Penang has won the 2021 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) Asia Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the Unesco Bangkok Office today named the temple as one of the nine award-winning projects selected from six countries, namely Malaysia, Bangladesh, China, India, Japan and Thailand.

Chow said the temple’s restoration project was recognised for its excellence in three main areas, namely understanding of the place, technical accomplishments, as well as sustainability and impact.

"On behalf of the state government of Penang, I would like to congratulate the Thai Pak Koong (Ng Suk) Temple (and) Fu De Ci Restoration Committee on this exemplary restoration project and for winning the award. This project is also an award winner of the George Town World Heritage Incorporated Heritage Recognition and Awards 2020 in the Category of Conservation, Enhancement and Adaptation, as announced in April 2021," he said here.

He said Penang last celebrated a similar success in 2008 when Suffolk House won the 2008 Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation.

Meanwhile, Thai Pak Koong (Ng Suk) Temple chairman Datuk Lio Chee Yeong said the temple's RM3mil rebuilding and conservation project took 32 months to complete from September 2017.

"The costs for this project are higher because we use building materials imported from China. We also take contractors and artisans from China to maintain the originality of the temple's architecture," he said.

According to Lio, the documentation work for the project began in 2015, mainly to highlight the multiracial community in Malaysia as the Chinese community is part of the country's heritage.

He dedicated the award to the heritage conservator for the project, Tan Yeow Wooi, who died of cancer two days ago.

The temple was established in 1810, dedicated to Thai Pak Koong (Tua Pek Kong in Hokkien), the God of Prosperity. - Bernama

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