GEORGE TOWN: Several heritage conservationists here have lauded the National Heritage Department’s intention to protect Sia Boey (Old Prangin Market) under the Heritage Act 2005.
George Town Heritage Action co-founder Mark Lay said the move was commendable, adding that the department appreciated the site as an integral part of George Town’s trading port history.
“Further study on the area, if it could lead to Sia Boey being included in an extended buffer zone, is certainly welcomed,” he said yesterday.
“It is a positive step in safeguarding George Town’s outstanding universal value.”
The department had said in a statement that the proposed development of a transportation hub at Sia Boey was “too close” to the buffer zone of the George Town World Heritage Site.
It also said preliminary investigation showed the proposed hub could harm George Town’s Unesco status.
The department announced that it would issue an Interim Protection Order under Section 33 of the Heritage Act 2005 to ensure the site is protected.
However, the state government’s approval is needed to enable the Interim Protection Order to be issued.
When the ongoing excavation is completed, the department will propose to extend the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site to include the Sia Boey area.
“Capacity will be taken into consideration, depending on the importance of the site and discussions with the relevant parties.
“This is one way to strengthen and safeguard the George Town World Heritage Site,” it added.
Penang Heritage Trust president Lim Gaik Siang said she had always been in support of Sia Boey being included in the buffer zone.
“The archaeological findings at the site further substantiate what has been recorded in our history, that the place used to be a bustling trading port surrounded by canal.
“The canal was built to protect the city back then. Its significance is similar to that of Fort Cornwallis,” she said.
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