1990s heritage inventory listed over 100 buildings from all over Penang

Khoo Boo Chia, assisted Prof Ender's team

A Penang State Museum committee came up with this inventory of mostly private heritage buldings but the list seems to have “melted down”, says a former urban conservator.

Statement regarding the contents of the MPPP Heritage Inventory of January 1988, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, former residence of Sir Stamford Raffles

by Alex Koenig, former MPPP “Urban Conservator” (1990 to 1993) on behalf of Prof Dr Enders.

After a call to Germany to Prof Dr Siegfried Enders, President of the ICOMOS International Special Committee on shared Built Heritage (advising Unesco on matters of heritage which is shared by different cultures), he started to dig in his private archives and found relevant sources on which he had based his findings about Sir Stamford Raffles’ residence during a German government-funded cooperation exercise with MPPP.

Unexpectedly, his sources in January 1988 had not been from MPPP, but from archives of The Penang State Museum and Art Gallery. Dr Enders still keeps the name card of the officer, who assisted his team, who was (or became later?) the director of the Museum and Art Gallery, Mr Khoo Boo Chia.

Mr Khoo Boo Chia was (later?) the cooperation partner with Unesco Bangkok and was participating in Unesco’s workshop series:

The Culture Heritage Management and Tourism workshop for the Enhancement of Stakeholder Cooperation in Tourism Development and Heritage Preservation in Asia and the Pacific
Bhaktapur, Nepal, 8-16 April 2000

The workshop was about the creation of heritage tourism action plans.

During the early 1990s, I had been the representative of MPPP’s Building Department in an official State Committee for a Heritage Inventory (which had been in competition to my work at MPPP). The committee had archived and proposed over 100 mostly privately owned heritage buildings, supported by much research and documents (as opposed to the MPPP approach, which did not provide such details).

In a later version of this list all privately owned buildings (“private buildings are not heritage”) had been deleted or replaced by public or religious buildings (with one exception, PHT activist Puan Khoo Salma’s house).

The original list of 100 heritage buildings was melted down (on the website) to just 31 totally non-relevant, mostly public buildings, such as Komtar. This list was last modified on 19 March 2014.

During the workshop in Bhaktapur, Dr Enders took photographs. He has sent to me the picture of the Penang participant, which I clearly identify as my civil service colleague Mr Khoo Boo Chia.

Sorry for the initial confusion of MPPP ‘Building files’ and the State Heritage archive.

Alex Koenig, Penang,
27 February 2016

Note: Alex wishes to correct the misreporting in the press, which quoted him as saying MBPP Mayor Patahiyah was “ridiculous”. What he meant was it was ridiculous of the developer to demolish the building.

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Jetty Lee

To preserve or maintain so called heritage monuments requires a lot of fund. The Penang Forum folks should organise fund raising events like lelong auction event?
If so, Tunglang can giveaway his 308 Han Chiang rally t-shirt to be auction off. If T Shirt signed by NiaoKong Platoon can possibly bring in a lot of funding, though cannot that piece cannot rival JhoLow’s Picasso Paintings. 🙂


Opportunity costs of funding controversial sea tunnel – for purposeful conservation or buy out of heritage value buildings? The ‘swap deals’ with owners (who are not staying in) of such buildings for this farsighted vision could be: private museums & art galleries for enterprising businesses – to recoup costs Baba Nyonya lifestyle x-perience (from home stays to Nyonya weddings) public libraries boutique hotels & cafes & kopitiams health + beauty & meditative centres, gym centres 911, Fire Brigade, volunteer corps centres Instead of leaving these buildings to emptiness that attracts walk-in ghosts like that Pg Museum @ Macalister Road, why… Read more »


very good idea. why the pkr aduns as directors makan gaji buta? follow rakyat’s demand. next time all the kopi tiams and teh tarik have a share by penang gomen. so penang lang are shareholders. how bad and how expensive are the service must patronised by penang lang.


Zoro got valid significant points here. Penang Gomen should invest in local lang biz startup ventures. No more gaji buta sitting on directorial board and not creating good proposals to be executed for the locals benefits.

I don’t mind paying RM3 for a local venture kopi o Kau kau if the profits go to finance poor local children education.

Sia Boey

Local venture kopi o Kau kau only employs Penangites as coffee boys and girls, those who look like Bruce Lee, Nora Mioa. Employs ah pek good at brewing kopi-o kau kau.
Paying Rm3 also shiok.
Tang, you know any fund investors?
Giving a helping hand to those with ideas also contribute to Penang.


The Penang government will be launching an Asian Comic Culture Museum at KOMTAR, Penang on 8 March 2016. https://youtube.com/watch?v=BRSEh-QZc7 Penang Asia Comic Cultural Museum (PACCM ) sits on a 13,000 sq ft space n the 2nd floor of the Komtar Complex, landmark building on Penang Island. The museum, proudly a first-of-its-kind in this part of the world, will showcase many of the active and pioneering icons of the comic/cartoon industry, together with masterpieces collected from the likes of nationalities including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. Artworks and associated merchandises on display would encompass artefacts… Read more »


if one of tunglang’s hse is on the list does it still belongs to him or penang foum; state musuem, or penang lang? outsider can command him what to do with his hse. better than north korea. kim.


Jetty is right. Penang Forum should do fund raising, which is also a means to gauge public’s support towards its effort.


Yesterday NGO Penang want gomen to elaborate on it Greening Penang plan. Now the public should get to know what species of plant, what cost, where they are planted, direct nego or suka suis plant or if there is a Gardening Department created to address the efforts to naturalise the concrete environment?


Has the list been certified by Unesco?


The list was an eye-opener to a treasure throve of heritage value assets.
Was there a political will to conserve or to destroy?


The list makes it easy for antique raiders to strip valuables (like tiles and historical emblems) from those old buildings.


anil, alex koenign worked in mppp from 1990 to 1993. state museum draw and PROPOSED a list of 100 bldgs. what happen to the report and list? any decision or like any studies carried by bn gomen, cold storage? alex begin a foreigner cannot involved in the local admin. what did state musuem do next? private bldgs are privately owned and mppp to buy over them? mppp must be very free and rich or why not gelakan gomen bought them? if the owners do not appreciate what his granny did and wanted to sell to the highest bidder, cant penang… Read more »


The list was there – which shows there was a concerted effort by interested parties to preserve Penang’s heritage assets, a potential golden egg for future heritage tourism prior to UNESCO heritage status recognition of George Town. There was already a vision among some – that Penang holds potentials in cultural tourism such as street food, festivals, old world charm buildings, trishaws, old trades, etc. But some didn’t have any foresight to conserve but instead to destroy in the name of money making via approval fees, licenses (to rape & destroy hills, heritage value buildings) & what else that we… Read more »