A GROUP of villagers from Kampung Tanjung Tokong is urging UDA Holdings Bhd to build a heritage village on a 1.21ha site there.
This is following the state’s decision to accord heritage status to the fishing village which is said to have existed before the British colonialists landed on Penang island in 1786.
Kampung Tanjung Tokong Residents Association chairman Mohd Salleh Yahaya said the company should respect the state government’s declaration of heritage status for the village.
“During our last meeting with UDA Holdings Bhd in November, it proposed builidng a gallery at the village. This is an insult to us since a gallery is a dead heritage. We want a living heritage,” he told a recent press conference.
Mohd Salleh, who is also Tanjung Tokong Heritage Redevelopment Task Force chairman, said villagers met Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on Feb 27 and the latter confirmed the heritage status of the village.
“The village which is about 250 years old is one of the oldest villages in Penang. The announcement on the status is meaningless if the development is devoid of heritage aspects.
“The company should build a heritage village with 30 houses at the 1.21ha of land next to Masjid Tuan Guru. The houses should be about 4,000sq ft and should incorporate heritage elements. There should also be a market complex to house hawkers,” he added.
He said the villagers had set up a cooperative and would hold a launching ceremony on March 25 to showcase the village’s heritage.
Mohd Salleh said the condition on the development of the land stated that “the land alienated shall be used solely for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and renewal of Tanjung Tokong village”.
He said: “We’re not against development but we want heritage elements incorporated in the village.
“Our country’s second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein visited the village in 1972 and had instructed that the living conditions of the people here be improved. But after 37 years of involvement by the Urban Development Authority, our condition has worsened.
“If they want to build flats, I hope they will build 30 storeys instead of just five storeys to make sure the needy are given units too.”
It was reported that UDA had offered the villagers three-room apartments measuring 850sq ft,
Mohd Salleh said there are also two heritage institutions at the village — the Warisan Persekutuan Setia Tanjung To’kong founded in 1911 and the Warisan Madrasah Al Taqwa founded in 1925.
“In January, I delivered a memorandum to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak but there has been no response,” he said.
He said Uda Holdings Bhd, formerly known as the Urban Development Authority or UDA, acquired the 19.42ha of land in the village in mid-1970, adding that 10.5ha had been developed with flats and some commercial units.
“There has been no development after 1990,” he said.