They all knew… so why did they approve?

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They knew that an application had been submitted to Unesco a few years ago for George Town to be listed as a World Heritage site. An updated dossier was submitted on 23 August 2007. At the very least, they knew the area is an historical site.

So why did they, how could the previous administration (three approvals) and the current adminstration (one approval) approve high-rise buildings in the heritage zone? That’s why I found it hard to celebrate the World Heritage listing.

In the heritage core zone (guidelines: max 5-storey/18-metre height restriction; tighter restrictions in certain areas):

  • AGB Sdn Bhd’s RM500 million “The Pier at Weld Quay” project including the 13-storey, 51-metre high, 100-room Rice Miller boutique hotel at Weld Quay: 100,000 sq feet commercial plaza, 160,000 sq feet retail podium, 23 small office-house-office (Soho) townhouses and 105 condominiums;
  • Boustead’s RM100 million 12-storey, 51-metre high, Royale Bintang Hotel (4-star, 295-room) project behind the post office in Downing Street;

In the heritage buffer zone (guidelines: 5-storey/18-metre height restriction):

  • Low Yat Group’s 23-storey, 84-metre high project along Millionaire’s Row (Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah);
  • E&O Hotel’s 17-storey, 84-metre high extension.

Three of these were approved by the previous admininistration while the Low Yat project was approved by the present administration on 26 June, about two weeks before the World Heritage status was granted. Why did they approve this “quick scrambling” of applications? See theSun’s analysis here.

Come on, you are not aware of the guidelines? How can you approve a project without being aware of the guidelines for the area? That’s the first thing you should look up before approving a project!

Himanshu Bhatt in theSun has put it well:

What is most puzzling about the whole affair is this: how could the MPPP have approved such projects when it was at that very time drafting guidelines restricting new buildings from having a height of more than 18m (or about five storeys)?

The two actions are glaringly incongruous; on the one hand you approve a high-rise project, and on the other you are drafting legislation restricting high-rises….

What George Town requires now, more than ever, is not just “compliance”, but a soulful initiative from the very people who will determine how the city looks and feels in years to come.

George Town is now a Unesco heritage zone, not a businessman’s playground. Hopefully our developers and politicians will live up to the high expectations that locals and the international community alike have for this unique historic corner of the world.

It’s time the state government keeps a distance from developers and gets less “pally” with them and strictly enforce density guidelines and height restrictions.

How will the state government undo this? Will it take tough – but correct – action to conserve the area? Or will it come up with its now-standard refrain, “We could expose ourselves to millions of ringgit in losses if they (developers) take legal action.”

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riskk

im totally agree with feebie on this matter, first of all we must know why this unesco status is so important for us, to attact tourist and preserve heritage. However we still need investor to come in and develope the place, look at current state of the buildings.. >.<“

gan tong

to heck with heritage… get the new buildings up and can make more $$$$ only old fudge go to see heritage buildings..

to maintain heritage = retarding

feebie81

The inner city of GeorgeTown is dead, i used to lived there. The 4 projects might be able to boost tourism sector around town area.what’s the point having a unesco status but no investors? the best solution is cont to go on with the hotels but neg. with unesco to keep the status, btw it is very unlikely that they gonna delist penang. i really dont understand why some of u guys want to make this issue into a political issue. mind to enlighten me?

looes74

‘Projects will not jeopardise Georgetown’s heritage status’
Athi Veranggan | Nov 22, 08 5:39pm
Former Penang executive councillor in charge of tourism Teng Chang Yeow believes that the three high rise hotels approved by the previous state government will not jeopardise Georgetown’s status as a Unesco heritage site.

The above message I quoted from malaysiakini. Regardless of what Jed Yoong says about the inconsistencies, perhaps our dear Teng should have the courtesy of answering us

Does it or does it not jeopardise the Groergetown’s status as a UNESCO

Jed Yoong

Can the reports be consistent

1. Mkini say all 4 approved by DAP
2. Next day Star says only 1, Boustead, approved by DAP
3. NOW, not Boustead.

There is NO REASON to approve.
This heritage issue is often “played” by the DAP.

snowbites8281

1. Stop the EGO-egging n armchair critics on LGE – instead use your grey cells to suggest/help out is a more value added way. 2. 3 projects approved by previous Govt-where is the sense in blaming LGE? 1 project approved in July 3months into new governance. I thought that LGE is showing leadership by biting the bullet, when he was probably still pinching himself that PR is formed in Penang. Who is sure that MPPP has consulted him by the way? Also, if asked as a newbie into the job, he probably said ‘follow as before first, changes if any… Read more »

nkkhoo

KM on November 21st, 2008 at 10.47am World Heritage status would NOT be able to feed the poor from hunger. In a way, yes, we should be proud of having preserve our historical sites in a reasonable manner. But, we need to move on, we just can’t still live like in the 30/40/50 or 60s, we need job opportunities for the rakyat to survive. Politicians/government’s decision must be driven in benefiting the mass public rather than only a certain group people who think that they want the nostalgic Penang. We need to MOVE ON people. ======= Short-sighted policy like approving… Read more »

looes74

Dear all,
It’s common that people makes mistakes including the private sector. LGE and its government have admitted the mistake. Now, it’s really not the time to blame. If you wanna blame, you should blame KTK government instead
LGE must thread carefully on this issue. It gonna be tough
Regards,
looes74

Meow

Ong Eu Soon,

If you think fatty Kee using our money to challenge developers is guts then maybe you should ask her again would she have done it if the money has to come out from her own pocket.

Eric

Ok people in Penang, I know all of you are angry with the situation, but if you look at it more objectively, LGE’s team did not approve those developments. It was the BN govt then. Shouldn’t we blame Koh Tsu Koon for this? … And for that matter, if this issue were brought up to court, it’s the private developers against the current Penang govt,… And we all know that this could well happen and turn out badly for Penang. If Penang loses the court case, the developers would still get to build their buildings, Penangites would need to pay… Read more »

macam macam ada

It Lim Eng Guan beginning to behave like Koh Tsu Koon? it is looking like sama sama.

KM

World Heritage status would NOT be able to feed the poor from hunger. In a way, yes, we should be proud of having preserve our historical sites in a reasonable manner. But, we need to move on, we just can’t still live like in the 30/40/50 or 60s, we need job opportunities for the rakyat to survive. Politicians/government’s decision must be driven in benefiting the mass public rather than only a certain group people who think that they want the nostalgic Penang. We need to MOVE ON people.

Jason Loh

Ong Eu Soon’ blabbering reveals his hatred of the people. The people voted for DAP & PKR. But Eu Soon wants to hang on to Gerakan, a party which is known for its Jekyll and Hyde personality. This very dangerous. It’s like saying everything is fine with a sincere and wamr smile when in reality the house in burning down. People has suffered because of Gerakan’s policies, including subservience to Umno. This is the sort of mentality which characterises Gerakan politicians.

Eric

One Eu Soon, my guess is probably you do not come from Penang.
Its unfair to discredit for only one mistake he have done, particularly when he is not even informed and another 3 was approved by the previous state administration. He is finding a way to settle the problem rather than calling LGE a fool, you are making a fool of yourself.

nkkhoo

james on November 21st, 2008 at 2.37am

Ong eu soon, if u dunno politics dun talk about politics.

===

People are talking about preservation of world heritage status, what politics you are talking here?

Withdraw all projects is only way to guarantee world heritage status is not revoked by Unesco.

james

Ong eu soon, if u dunno politics dun talk about politics.

Ong Eu Soon

Lim Guan Eng is a real fool, he still think he can negotiate with World Heritage Committee over the 4 high rise building. He forget that he have been politely reminded to adhere to the rules. He still cite the violation of rule by Malacca as an excuse to go ahead with the projects. For once I start to like Kee Phaik Chin who challenged the developers to go ahead to sue the state government if they have the guts to do so. Lim Guan Eng doesn’t know what will be the political consequences that he will face when Penang… Read more »

mut

LGE should withdraw all the approvals. This has to be in line with the heritage listings and it’s own rules. Nothing else should dictate its actions.

Then we shall have Kedaulatan Undang-Undang. No more BN s*** please. Or we would have voted them into office in March!

orange

why is it that most developers have bad taste? don’t they study what it is that travellers expect when they visit a foreign country – not some ugly and vulgar monstrosity of a building. don’t even understand trends and sophistication, how to improve tourism industry? what is the point of bulldozing away all traces of our identity and replacing it with buildings without character? it might appeal to their inflated egos but definately not to their target audience. apasal banyak orang bodoh making decisions these days? goes to show that after all these years, mentality belum progress. culturally also dry… Read more »

wan

ahh..greedy capitalist

nkkhoo

IF Penang and Melaka are stripped off the world heritage status in near future is never a big surprise to me.

Unesco giving world heriatge status to Penang and Melaka not because of merit, but as an incentive to push Malaysian government to do more before any irreparable damages are done on both cities.

Michael Sun

LGE is between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Either way, he loses.

He has to figure out how to “cut loss” and keep Penang voters happy.

God bless

Seb

Lge’s govt is fumbling now and then. First over the kings of tennis, then now this. Not easy being in govt.

KWMoon

I urge the CM to untangle the mess. Do not act in a hurry. No point finding blames. That’s history. Many cities have high rise buildings, that’s easy with money. But how many cities can gain Heritage listing??? Penang has to be different: not like KL, Spore, Bangkok, HK etc. We can compete better if we are different. The developers are businessmen. Such fine hotels are built not for locals but for visitors. Wouldn’t Penang attract more visitors under Heritage listing, than like any modern cities around us in Asia? Will the hotels gain more? I’m sure it is common… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

Hei, LGE is just try to business friendly and pro-investor ‘cos he think u and me Kia Shu; no development will die. So if you have monies, go ahead to apply for any time he will apply happily without corruption. That is why I keep insist that he put a proper public consultation mechanism in place first before I try my best to be nice with him. I don’t politician think what he think is best for me, I think what is always best for me. Too bad my ego is just too BIG for him.