GEORGE TOWN: A social activist has come out with guns blazing against George Town World Heritage Incorporated questioning the role of its general manager Dr Ang Ming Chee over Sia Boey or the Old Prangin Market issue.
Dr Lim Mah Hui said Dr Ang should know that Unesco encouraged individuals and non-governmental organisations to directly bring to their attention potential threats to heritage sites when the authorities failed to do so.
“So, the question should be, why did GTWHI (George Town World Heritage Incorporated) fail to alert Unesco on the Penang government’s plan to build a LRT line and station in Sia Boey,” he said in his open letter to Dr Ang.
Many had said that by writing to Unesco about the adverse impact of the proposed Penang Transport Master Plan on George Town’s heritage status, Dr Lim could have jeopardised the inner city’s development.
“My letter to Unesco was a request to send an advisory mission and to assist in heritage impact assessment.
“It was not meant to be an act of sabotage,” he said.
On Dr Ang’s statements that the LRT line and station were pure speculation, Dr Lim said: “How is it she does not know that SRS Consortium and the state government had applied to the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) for approval of its plan?
“Do you regard this as just speculation?” he asked.
He said Dr Ang should be aware of the World Heritage Committee Operational Guideline that stipulates the need for an integrated approach to manage, protect, conserve not only the heritage site (the nominated property), but also any buffer zones, as well as the broader setting.
“With this new guideline, Sia Boey, being adjacent to the buffer zone, could be negatively impacted by the proposed elevated LRT infrastructure,” he said.
Dr Lim said Penang Forum had publicly shared with state authorities the above potential risks.
However, he said, all these have fallen on deaf ears.
Dr Lim said he had given evidence of how Dr Ang had been made aware of the risks, and yet did not take action to alert the state government, National Heritage Department or Unesco.
“I leave it to you and the public to decide whether you have discharged your duties and should stay on as the GTWHI general manager,” he said.
GTWHI, in a statement, said it was committed to the management of the George Town World Heritage Site.
“We welcome input from all stakeholders, including Penang Forum, and call on all parties to cease unproductive public statements through the mass media.
“GTWHI is always open to dialogue in working towards the betterment of the George Town World Heritage Site and we are in the process of engaging a consultant to prepare a Heritage Impact Assessment for the Sia Boey site.
“Please be advised that the general manager of GTWHI is presently on medical leave under advice for her heart condition,” it said.