Party wing and groups voice concerns about heritage issues

Pre-war shophouses lining one of the streets in George Town.

GROUPS of heritage lovers are working with Penang Gerakan Youth to call for more effective planning on the demarcation of zones in the heritage enclave to control commercial exploitation.

The wing’s legal and public complaints bureau chief Jason Loo said a roundtable meeting was held on Jan 3 to discuss the preservation of George Town as a World Heritage City.

“These groups feel that the state government has not been effective in protecting the heritage area and is instead encouraging high commercialisation.

“We hope the Special Area Plan (SAP) will be gazetted by the middle of this year,” he told a press conference at the Penang Gerakan headquarters in Macalister Road.

Loo said the meeting was attended by Youth Unity Movement, Penang Canton & Ting Chew Association, George Town Heritage Action, Penang Chinese Town Hall Youth Wing and Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association.

It was reported on Jan 4 that the area plans, which will draw out guidelines for George Town World Heritage Site, Penang Botanic Gardens and Penang Hill, should be gazetted by the middle of this year.

Loo also referred to a Dec 8 article in an online news portal quoting Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng as saying that the state was in the midst of translating the plans from English to Bahasa Malaysia and he hoped to gazette them next year.

“We obtained a copy of the Bahasa Malaysia version of the SAP for George Town World Heritage Site in January last year.

“Why was there a contradiction by the Chief Minister?” Loo questioned.

George Town Heritage Action founder Mark Lay claimed that he obtained a soft copy of the Bahasa Malaysia SAP from an officer in the state Planning Department in January last year.

He stressed that his group was not politically affiliated.

Loo said among the proposals raised in the roundtable meeting were a unit to vet prospective buyers of pre-war houses and residents awareness campaigns highlighting the intangible values of heritage properties.

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