The closure of the unique funicular train service up Penang Hill must surely be met with great sadness and disappointment. Many of those who have taken the trip will readily agree that part of the thrill of ascending the hill is the charming and leisurely sojourn that they experienced getting to the top.
The 103-year-old working legacy is only one of two that is in existence in Asia and surely, this is good enough for the Tourism Ministry to list it as a national treasure.
Thus, it beggars belief that the relevant authorities have seen fit to dismantle the train and replace it with a modern one that will cost RM63mil.
I remember reading earlier that a retired engineer passionately argued that the train service, albeit antiquated, could be repaired, improved and maintained at a fraction of the cost.
The construction of the new service will surely cause much damage to the forest neighbouring the railway tracks as widening the tracks is inevitable.
That it should take 30 minutes to reach the destination is not reason enough to replace the funicular train. We are often reminded by well-trodden travellers that it is the journey rather than the arrival that makes the visit all the more memorable.
At a time when we are aggressively promoting tourism to the world at large, we seem determined to undermine the effort by destroying our nation’s beautiful and unique heritage, which is one of the main reasons visitors are encouraged to come to our shores!
Let us not be left completely bereft of our unique and charming heritage, built or otherwise, which is swiftly disappearing in our hasty pursuit for all things new and gleaming.
Spare a thought for those wonderful old gems still remaining all around this country that never fail to impress and bring joy and pride to our collective consciousness.
It is my fervent hope that the powers-that-be will rethink the removal of this unique train system. If Hong Kong can preserve theirs, why on earth can’t we?
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