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Published: Tuesday September 8, 2009 MYT 6:33:00 PM

Penang to introduce heritage bill

GEORGE TOWN: The state government will table a heritage bill at the state assembly sitting to give it powers to declare certain places in the state as heritage sites.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the move was to preserve, protect and promote heritage sites in George Town and the whole state.

“In the state Exco meeting last week, we looked at various laws with inputs from the state legal adviser and a planning officer.

“We have come to know that only the Heritage Commissioner (under the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry) has the power to designate a certain site as a heritage site,” he said after presenting Hari Raya contributions to the state police force and armed forces on Tuesday.

He said if the Heritage Commissioner did not think a site should be accorded a heritage status, all the state could do was to impose guidelines and recommendations.

“A heritage law would give us the legislative force to provide better protection to these sites,” Lim said.

He said the state legal adviser was drafting the bill but he was unsure whether it could be ready in time for the next assembly sitting in November.

On another matter, Lim said the state had yet to hear from the Prime Minister’s Department on its request for a meeting with the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) over the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project.

“The state exco has decided to deal directly with the Federal Government on this matter as we feel it should be done in a government-to-government manner.

“The state has not appointed any company for the project and if the Federal Government has chosen a company, we are interested in seeing if this company has the best interest of the Penang people at heart and if it can succeed in helping to ease the traffic congestion,” Lim said.

An English weekly had recently reported that the RM1.5bil project that was deferred last year was back on the table with a green light from the EPU.

The weekly reported that private company Daya Aliran Inovasi Sdn Bhd, of which Umno leader Datuk Ahmad Ismail is a shareholder, was bidding for the project.

The project entails the construction of a 17km expressway which was divided into two parts — an inland segment from Jalan Tunku Kudin to Gurney Drive and an offshore section from the Jalan Tanjung Tokong junction to Jalan Pangkor on reclaimed land.