The Penang Heritage Trust has come up with the following statement on the demolition of several shop-houses in George Town.
Photos by Penang Media
The PHT regrets the initial demolition by the state government of the traditional shop-houses along Magazine Road which is part of the historic ‘Sia Boey’ enclave.
We had earlier inspected the buildings and spoken to the residents of the area on their invitation. While these buildings are not situated strictly within the heritage enclave (which is bordered by the Prangin Canal), they nevertheless form part of the established communities living and providing services in the inner city.
PHT is very concerned with the rapid depopulation of many precincts in the city which may lead to a completely new population taking over and changing the traditional cultural life of the city. This is a concern that conservation experts in Unesco would definitely share.
We have alerted the YB Chow and appealed to him to consider integrating these buildings and their residents in their proposal to make the Sia Boey area into a public park. There is no reason why these attractive buildings cannot be restored and upgraded and the traditional businesses allowed to carry on in the vicinity of a public park.
PHT has also been working with like-minded group like CHAT (Cultural Heritage Advisory Team) over this issue and several Aduns have also been alerted. We are happy to note that the PDC (the landlords) have finally decided to put this action on hold pending further discussions and investigations ‘unless they become a threat to public safety’.
We hope to convene a meeting with the local authorities and PDC soon future, to discuss a possible development plan that would include revitalising the Prangin Canal area as a recreational public space while integrating the buildings and communities along Magazine Road.