'Preserve Penang's soul'


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 18 Jan 2003

BY SIRA HABIBU

PENANG: Preservation of dominant historical architecture in inner George Town is crucial to conserve the “soul of Penang”, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said. 

The Deputy Prime Minister said the inner city could be regarded as the soul of Penang as it housed the Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu enclaves “all in one place”, adding that such a set-up reflected a high degree of religious tolerance which was crucial for harmonious living. 

“Some degree of conservation is necessary as evidence of a thriving multi-ethnic community that existed many years ago,” he said at the Mesjid Kapitan Keling conservation completion ceremony yesterday. 

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi admiring the Moorish interior of the Mesjid Kapitan Keling in Penang yesterday while being briefed on the uniqueness of the restored mosque by HY Consultant's Dr Hafizah Yakub.The Deputy Prime Minister,who attended the conservation ceremony,spoke on the need to preserve inner city architecture to conserve the soul of Penang.

Stressing that he was not against commercial development, Abdullah said any new structures in the vicinity should be modelled after the dominant architecture in the respective enclave. 

“Conserving this area will be a boon for tourism,” he said. 

Abdullah said the Mesjid Kapitan Keling, founded by a Southern Indian Muslim chieftain Cauder Mydin Merican in 1802, was prominently featured in Penang tourism brochures. 

Later, he told reporters that Penang stood to benefit in terms of tourism if it made it to the Unesco Heritage Listing. 

He called on the state government to study the obstacles faced in the heritage conservation effort and find ways to overcome them, adding: “Malacca is doing fine”.  

On another issue, Abdullah said changes in the Umno line-up in other states following the major reshuffle of Kelantan Umno office-bearers was inevitable as the party and the Barisan Nasional geared up for the impending general election. 

He said one of the aims of the reshuffling exercise in Kelantan was to strengthen the party to help Barisan recapture the state, which was now under opposition rule. 

He added that he was sure that there would be a reshuffle in the Terengganu Umno line-up as well. 

“I hope the new line-up will be able to unite Kelantan Umno,” he told reporters yesterday. 

In the major reshuffling exercise, prominent lawyer Zaid Ibrahim was named the new Kelantan Umno deputy liaison chief, replacing Kota Baru division chief and former Rural Development Minister Datuk Annuar Musa. 

On whether the reshuffle exercise would be extended to other states, Abdullah said:  

“It is up to the respective state liaison committees to propose what is best for the state Umno.” 

“Umno, according to history, is always undergoing changes, always securing new talents among new and young leaders, to give them an opportunity to contribute towards the party’s struggle,” he added.  

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