THE reports headlined “Properties worth millions left to rot” (The Star, June 27) are a sad reminder of the buildings left to rot in Penang as well as in Melaka, my home town. Obviously, it is difficult for the authorities to trace the owners or for families inheriting old properties to maintain them.
But overriding any difficulties is the need to preserve these buildings, which enrich the character of Penang and Melaka.
In the last two chapters of my book, The Story of Malacca, I stressed the importance of such buildings to the tourist industry. Tourists from Singapore, Shanghai or New York do not come here to see new shopping malls or high-rise hotels. Our historic streets and buildings offer a unique experience to these travellers.
These old buildings must be compulsorily purchased and restored. They can renovated into spaces for art groups, museums, boutique hotels or traditional trades. If each visitor stays an extra day because the city offers more, that probably means a 25%-30% increase in tourist dollars spent in these states.
Ayer Keroh, Melaka