World Heritage listing: Some words of caution


Following Unesco’s recognition of George Town and Malacca as world heritage sites, LW wrote these important words of caution, which I thought I should highlight:

I just hope, though, that this listing will actually bring about more context sensitive and local-culture-based modes of development in Penang and Melaka that are sustainable in the long term – not speculative and profiteering projects that will only earn quick cheap dollars from tourists but suck the life out of the cities.

The former will ensure the emergence of timeless, authentic, subtle, unique qualities in the cities that result from the socio-cultural practices of true living communities, which are the true attraction to tourists (Italy’s Venice and Siena; Southern France’s many hill towns; and Vietnam’s Ho An are quick cases in point) and eventually the pride of the people.

The latter, characterised by quick, context-blind, cosmetic, superficial, shouting-for-attention “improvements”, will degrade Penang and Melaka into just any capitalist cities with no inner-soul and spirit.

I cringe as thoughts suggesting that the latter will more likely happen surface in my mind. I frantically search for light that will eliminate my dark thoughts but the light is being rapidly blown out by the unabated winds of economic development that the State Government is (perhaps inadvertently?) fanning.

While this listing will no doubt boost economic activity in the inner city and diversify the economy, it would be a pity if we are blinded by the potential $$$$$ to be made and more so if that tarnishes and corrupts the real historical treasure we have been entrusted to preserve.

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mgspg og

The Penang Heritage Trust has been doing a good job. Give them more say, rope them into whatever committee LGE is intending to form. For Penang to retain its charm, do away with the monorail and the PORR, bring back the tram or if this is not possible, simply improve public transport. When I was growing up in Penang, cycling was the most convenient mode of transport. Can this be encouraged and revived?


Hi Anil,

Can you tell Lim G.H to visit Adelaide and see the tram service here. I hope he would do that….

artic turban

I picked this up from other postings, lets show how the pm how we bloggers are liars, if not for bloggers than …. umno can get away with anything. so pm who is the liar now
this is the epitome of barisan’s criteria for members of parliment. these are the umno champions.
this is off your subject matter but still salient, here is bung … with his unparlimentary gesture, lets demand for his suspension.
Watch this for evidence. Bung … cannot escape now!

bung … must go.

pejuang anti-bung …


To my knowledge the only problem for the locals to visit Penang Island is the traffic congestion at the bridge and various places in George town. Car pooling is necessary, traffic control system should be improved and the drastic need is a very good transport system.

In early days it was easy to get buses and trams to any part of the island as soon as one crosses the channel.

Hope the old days of duty free days returns to Pearl off the Orient.


And we can forget about longest buffets etc.


Our state government has been bestowed a golden opportunity to revive Penang’s fortunes. Let’s all hope they will be working feverishly towards a sustainable tourist industry. A comprehensive programme should include well organised heritage tours with capable and well spoken tour leaders, promoted via leading tour agencies the world over, should our embassies feel reluctant to extend a helping hand. We are certainly not looking for borrowed carnival themes inspired by Hawaii or the like. Keep it real. Videos of our many colourful ethnic celebrations could be kept on reruns at places of rest. It’s not as if we are… Read more »