Runnymede ancilliary buildings demolished: MBPP must explain

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On the second day of the Lunar New Year, heritage circles in Penang were abuzz with talk that several buildings in the Runnymede property in Penang – the site of Stamford Raffles home in Penang – were being demolished, reminiscent of the way the nearby Metropole Hotel was flattened under stealth on Christmas Day, 1993.

Sadly, little has changed since 1993. Said one eye-witness who passed by Northam Road/Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah at 6.45pm yesterday:

The excavators were still pounding away and smoke was rising. They are burning as well – so that they are not asked to put it back? All the ancilliary buildings are gone – including the one nearer the sea and EPF building which is supposed to be the one that was part of the Raffles building.

Runnymede was once the site of the colonial home of Stamford Raffles, when he was assistant secretary to the governor of Penang in the early 1800s. Raffles would go on to establish a British settlement in Singapore in 1819.

Planning approval was given in 1999 for three commercial towers and a hotel tower, which would dwarf the main three-storey Category 2 heritage building at the Runnymede property site. One of the towers has already been built, the EPF building.

Heritage activists want MBPP to clarify this: if planning permission was given in 1999, when the MBPP was not aware of conservation and had not adopted a conservation policy, why was permission automatically renewed until 2015? Was the developer asked to do a heritage management plan and a heritage impact assessment?

In 2014, Chow Kon Yeow said, “The planning approval is still valid until today because they have already built one of the office blocks, Bangunan KWSP which is next to it but only the heritage buildings site was untouched.” See report and photos of the buildings.

The Malay Mail reported back then that the council had issued an order to seek remedial works to the cluster of buildings which had fallen into disrepair. Number 40 had to be restored and preserved; the owner was also reportedly ordered to ensure the seven other buildings in the vicinity were safe and not in danger of collapse.

Incredibly, these buildings at the site of Stamford Raffles Penang home were deemed to have no heritage value. The Penang Heritage Trust even asked if a dig could be done before any work on the site could begin but received no word.

So what has happened to these other buildings now? Has any approval been given for their demolition, and if so when? (This would be the same fate as the surrounding buildings of the St Joseph’s novitiate, which made way for Gurney Paragon.)

What does “Batal 24-Nov-15” below mean?

runnymede application

Notice that it also says “Tiada Rancangan Tempatan”- No Local Plan for this high density project. (Where is the Penang Island Local Plan? Conveniently missing in action.)

The plan was to build three towers:

  • A 31-storey, 180-room hotel tower
  • A 12-storey commercial and office tower
  • A 61-storey apartment block

as well as restoring the three-storey pre-war Runnymede hotel building, under heritage Category 2, and converting part of it into a 20-room hotel.

Look at how the main Runnymeade building could be dwarfed by towers.

The Runnymedia masterplan - Artist's impression: www.e-architect.co.uk
The Runnymedia masterplan – Artist’s impression: www.e-architect.co.uk

What about the other existing buildings in the property?

As you can see, the developer is Warisan Pinang Sdn Bhd.

Warisan Pinang is a member of the Prima Prai Group.

Prima Prai is a wholly owned subsidiary of Pasdec Holdings Bhd.

And Pasdec Holdings Bhd, chaired by Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob, is a member of the Pahang State Development Corporation Group.

Stamford Raffles was intricately connected to the Runnymede property. Read the fascinating history here.

So much for heritage.

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Tokong Basher

80% belongs to Datuk Ramzan and son(Mahathir privatisation beneficiary), 20% belongs to LTAT

Allen Warren

Over on the mainland, v have the mpsp landscape, n jabatan kejuruteraan, supporting developers by short-changing consumers. Example : (allegedly) certifying landscape plans where roads are 100% void of trees, approving VP/CCC without stepping foot into the development, closing eyes to basic yet serious safety hazards…I hv serious doubts over what our politicians say vs allow n do.

zoro

Report to Gelakan and they are very happy to take the opportunity to bring the state Gomen down. Or you make nouseblike huan or teng?

benny

You can go to Singapore to see the real former residential home of Stamford Raffles at Fort Canning Park:
http://1-host.sg/locations/raffles-house/

Willie

The fake one has no value.

tunglang

So, all the more not to destroy our own heritage assets, ang moh or not.
SingLand has the skills to change a gem into a diamond – just look at their landscaping wonders & restoring magic.

zoro

Ours is fake as fire burn down the original building and they rebuilt to house a hotel. That is why BN receive the place costing 1 dollar and exchange with the deal non cat like osa. those who make most noise here are quite over the deal.

zoro

So here they are like singland. Transform into a gem and restore magic just like the rebuilt building when the original bldg went up in smoke and ashes

calvinsankaran

This is from FMT. ——————————————– In response, Teng said he was unsure whether the 17-year-old approval of planning permission was still valid. He recalled that the Penang Island Municipal Council under the late Tan Gim Hwa had drawn up a policy in 1993 that planning permission could only be renewed 10 times, meaning it could be valid only for 10 years. Teng said he was a municipality councillor then. “I don’t know whether any changes have been made to the policy now,” he said. “But then the EPF building project is (part of) phase one, while Runnymede is (part of)… Read more »

calvinsankaran

Now this is very interesting and if this is true, then the state govt is not just guilty of gross negligence but also breaking its own law. ——————————————————————————————————— GEORGE TOWN: A PROPOSAL to preserve heritage buildings along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah was presented to the local authorities some three decades ago, a heritage interest group said yesterday. George Town Heritage Action group said an eight-page dossier was presented to the Development Planning Technical Committee of the then Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) in 1989. A spokesperson said the proposal was later included in a heritage list which was passed by… Read more »

glissantia

Main reasons for non-Western nations losing their heritage sites:
– Greed and capitalism.
– Ignorance: thinking that tourists come to see Western-style development.
– Intention to erase or rewrite history.
– Failure of the people to control their government servants including politicians.

Shebby

Even if you restore the ang moh building into another E & O Hotel, it would not be a place for common ordinary Penangites but a place to worship the Ang Moh legacy of bourgeoisie.

tunglang

An Ang Moh legacy is better than none. A history icon is part of a place, no matter how you do to it. Options can be creatively chosen to turn some of these Ang Moh legacy into museums or public institutions.
Or you much, much, prefer to replace it with a CAT symbolism?
Or why not dig up Captain Francis Light grave & other Ang Mohs’ graves for riddance once & for all?
Maybe you have been rubbed off by the BeeEnd short-sightedness phobia for all Ang Moh culturalism+legacy.

benny

Elderly Chinese could remember how the British conquered China with opium (see Boxer Rebellion), so has no affinity to British legacy.

zoro

How can chinese be so low to dig up the graves of dead men? If they want to, they will ask a taorist monk to conduct a ceremony beforehand.

tunglang

You are very welcomed as volunteer to up dig graves classified under 3D jobs (dirty, difficult, dangerous – b’cos one might offend the dead!) for the Chinese.
Can or not? Pls give an answer by GMT12+8

zoro

U are welcome to tok tok and drive yr 4 wheels drive and jam the road. Tok tok and never do the walk. So u r turning the graves now and u can ask heritage board as volunteers. Good luck

lim

Shebby is right, i, too wonder is there any meaning actually when the common folks cant even get near to this prestige building ?

Willie

Those ang moh sai enjoy afternoon tea at such place sipping English tea and eating muffin/scone to showcase their celup high society upbringing, forgetting that their forefathers are fed with opium in the past.

lim

Ha ha ha Willie, you also can join the angmo sai sipping english tea with muffin/scone at those prestige buildings, am sure tunglang will love it for a change, not kopi o kau kau for once !!!

benny

English Afternoon Tea at E&O Hotel’s 1885 (2-5pm):
http://www.eohotels.com/1885.php
tunglang please do not order kopi kau kau here.

tunglang

Many decades ago, sip-sip Saturday afternoon tea with Madame Pykett, waltzing barefoot with her on soft garden grass, & spent the rest of the afternoon whispering love behind veranda blind till the moon came home to ang moh mansion.

zoro

Prestige but no one in Penang has been telling this historical bldg. Maybe when they say the original bldg was burnt down and the present bldg is a rebuilt, outsiders may they what so historical. No wonder kiasu Singaporeans do not make any special interests. Even former Penang langs become singapore MPs and citizens did not even bother to mention

glissantia

Typical. The confusion and wishful thinking includes wanting to rewrite history. Access for common people is a separate issue. This is the same warped thinking and greed that has led to the destruction of our most iconic architechture, the beautiful shophouses even in major towns. The result is that those claiming to hate Westerners end up touring the West and buying property there.

zoro

Anil netto in newspaper report the original house was burnt down and they rebuilt to suit their desifn. Traces of raffles are all in ashes and smoke

tunglang

A closed mind is full of fear, hatred & bigotry.
An open mind is flowing with tolerance, empathy, inclusive love & appreciation of beauty in other cultures.
How strange some souls in the midst of multi-cultural Penang can still close their minds in total absolute vodka denial. How to be Cosmopolitan Penang denizens???

lim

Exactly, glissantia, I dont understand why some people they hate the westerners so much but these are the ones who have emigrated to the angmo land.

Just look at dumno politicians comes every ge they preach like they are pure anak kampong, makan lepat pisang with kankong belacan, waving their keris in the air… but see where they send their children for education and where they go for holidays !!!

Maybe you are right “access for common people is a separate issue”. However, i find that it is also somehow not very right ???

zoro

clearlg bn regime had been using taxpayers money for their parties use. roar at the cat and meow at osa. OSA is better thsn CAT anytime.

David Brent

Aside from all the attention to heritage, planning authority and local politics concerning this debacle, it is just a symptom of the big picture that the whole world is hiding from. Penang is grossly overpopulated, too much traffic and massive strain on resources and services. The dangers of unbridled pursuit of growth and profits is completely ignored while Penang gradually loses it wonderful charm.

zoro

of course it is over populated as people for their interest prefer to keep the place as it is. but how does it compare to over 4m and 7m people in sing and hk? the gomen has demolish squatters and relocate them to highrise flats.
penang began to look eyesore with dipilated pre and post war shophouses and urban slums for the poor. repairs will be very costly and a fire hazard. time will come for penang forum to do the walk rather than the talk.

lim

You have got a strong point here, zoro !

tunglang

CAT gomen run by Niao Kong is in hot pursuit of quickie money from whoever can tango the swap-deals, regardless of whether it involves a heritage icon or not. It needs massive money in the shortest time to develop Penang & showcase its balance sheet but without a guiding rudder or proper vision+mission to a destiny. But the main thrust of the argument for or against Cosmopolitan Penang (ala SingLand/HK?) is not development as per se or more superficially structural statement of brick, oral, aluminium & green glass without a soul. It involves a much deeper understanding of what it… Read more »

David Brent

Aside from the very focussed situation and comment regarding heritage and planning etc, this debacle must remind all that like the rest of the world Penang is overpopulated, too much traffic and bursting at the seams, gradually losing its charm – all in the insane interests of unbridled growth and profit. When does someone say – ENOUGH?

zoro

according to history pommy gomen sold the bldg to alliance gomen (rakyat) gomen for token sum and being used by military. how it is transferred to umno pahang? then penangkias must make more noise since rakyat gomen just pay a token sum. who is enrich themselves.
but nobody cares?

zoro

dums. umno gomen is not showing any interest in the so call heritage and trade off for the relocation. who is disposing the heritage to a private company. why no noise on this matter. OSA and no CAT because CAT is worst than OSA

calvinsankaran

I just read that Chow claimed the approval was granted back in 1999. This doesn’t make sense and if I am not mistaken once the developer did not start work within a certain time frame, the approval is deemed as void.

Can anyone enlighten us on this issue? The CAT regime have the habit of quoting such idiotic excuses to carry on with wanton destruction of heritage.

calvinsankaran

I think someone needs to call the CAT-regime’s bluff. Their standard reply when caught breaking rules and law is that the permission was given XX years ago. There is no business in the world which makes business plan 17 years in advance. I suspect the permission he’s referring to probably some agreement pertaining the land swap rather than detailed building plan. How can one come up with a detailed building plan 17 years in advance or even estimate the cost or make projections so far ahead ? Simply impossible. In any case the developer has to submit the detailed building… Read more »

zoro

How can chinese be so low to dig up the graves of dead men? If they want to, they will ask a taorist monk to conduct a ceremony beforehand.

benny

Swap deal was done before 2000, then regime BN should offer the explanation? Perhaps they knew then that Ang Moh Chor Kong has no historical value and significance to the Nusantara concept?

calvinsankaran

It is DAP-apologist like you that Penang’s heritage is under threat and being erased. The swap deal was wrong and due to such deals that BN was kicked out in 2008. But that’s not an excuse for DAP to wantonly destroy heritage and carry on the same old BN-style practices.

tunglang

Try to understand the David Koresh mass suicide in Waco, Texas & we will forgive why some individuals are bent on worshipping a deity on all fours despite being bluffed time & time again.
A state of self-denial is always ripe for pointing fingers to the past to blame but the present rehash of the already condemned of the past is AOK (for the sake of a highly venerable Deity)!

tunglang

A politician who never learn from others’ mistakes is an idiot.
But a politician who does what his nemesis did is indeed a ….
The 3rd statement is for Karma to take its course.

calvinsankaran

Another month another part of Penang is irreversibly destroyed. I guess it is the price we pay to vote for Development Above People party !

Tang

May be the local government thus such heritage site not appealing to Selfie-crazed younger generations who ate not familiar with Stamford Raffles as Sejarah textbooks more focus on Nusantara ? There are now amazingly more art museum {e.g. 3D} to cater for influx of Selfie crowd. Look what has happened to Odeon cinema.

benny

Ang Moh historian Marcus Langdon said it was “the last example of Raffles’ home in Asia and had great importance to the people of Malaysia, Singapore”.

Exactly what was its “importance” to the people of Malaysia? or to the British descendants in Malaysia? Can anyone elaborate since the Runnymede Hotel did not fall under specifications set by Unesco for George Town World Heritage Site?

Perhaps we should listen to the view by our local History Professor Emeritus Khoo Kay Khim on such matter?
http://ideas.org.my/news/khoo-govt-ignorant-about-preservation-of-heritage-buildings/

zoro

maybe they dislike raffles who bought sinkspore so cheap. so they sell to the developer. but the blame should be on the rakyat allowing the rakyat gomen who obtain the land n bldg for a token sum wo any question and noise. the land n bldgr once belong to penang rakyat is gone

tunglang

The full text for convenience of readers: HISTORIAN Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim says the government should not insists on building MRT (My Rapid Transit) stations along Jalan Sultan as doing so would destroy century-old heritage buildings that bore witness to the development of Kuala Lumpur. He said the government has ignored the importance of protecting heritage buildings and if the pre-war buildings in Jalan Sultan are forced to make way for the MRT project, Kuala Lumpur will become a city without heritage buildings. “In England, all centuries-old buildings are preserved. Malaysia is obviously not being careful enough… Read more »

zoro

BN look stupid if mrt is built aove ground in chinatown. Malaysian engrs are smart. dont underestimate then They can tunnel mrt under ground. But gomen wants to dominate the land just like ampang park by giving excuses. But buildings can be engineered to a limited depth underground.

tunglang

Penang exco member Chow Kon Yeow was then asked if the state authorities would approve any development on the hill top, which is well over 250 feet above sea level. “If they submit an application, we will consider,” he said, cryptically. “We could reject it.” “But you could also approve it, right?” said another activist, to which Chow nodded. Note: If this is the ARROGANT & LYING attitude of CAT, Niao Kong & Chow Chow, what hope is there for Penang environment??? Better wake up from the worshipping of this idol & do your homework. Unless one is already intoxicated… Read more »

zoro

that is what we worship god the way we think what is right. funny chou en lai wanted his ashes scattered in the ocean and lee kuan yew his house demolish rather to be treated like a zoo.
go and fight rather talk talk. heritage just putting some sign board adequate and complete the job?

tunglang

Niao Kong & Chow Chow, both of you & your co-horts will pay for all these nonsense via Karma.
We will be more resolved to ‘fight’ this heritage issue of Penang till the last breath.
Comes GE, you will be shamed like never before.
Pls burn the Penang Local Plan in Komtar public if you dare to continuously hide it for all nonsensical reasons.
DESPICABLE, ARROGANT, PUTRFIED is all I can sum up DAP.

benny

Maybe it is one way to erase the colonial past, as Jajahan British is a painful reminder, thus no heritage value?
If Francis Light has never been accorded respect in Sejarah, what more would they regard Stamford Raffles?
The relics from the demolished Stamford Raffles home could be sold to Singapore that worships the Raffles brand name?

zoro

clearlg bn regime had been using taxpayers money for their parties use. roar at the cat and meow at osa. OSA is better thsn CAT anytime.

Wengleng Goay

There need to be consistency on policy!

tunglang

When Money Talks, anything can UBAH in the absence of Penang Local Plan still in Bahasa translation.
A CAT & Chow Chow combo won’t care but treat Penangites as bodoh with votes to give them a 4-year free ride of power to UBAH anything to their fancies.
Time to drag the CAT out of the Developer Association of Penang Bag of Arrogance + Recalcitrants.

Sin Yoong Cheong

Sigh. Both BN and Opposition have no qualms of erasing history and natural beauty (to please their corporate backers?)

rajraman666

All Political Trader went comes to $$$ works along very well.
rajraman. In Penang UMNO approved erasing History and DAP happy to get gleaming new tower to shows development.Ask more they will say it’s was approved before their time. Current time $$$ flowing like the Anil mighty river into State Revenue.
Happy Chinese New Year to all Malaysian.