‘Prevent foreigners owning heritage buildings in Penang’


GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Government has been urged to control the sale of premises in the city, recognised as a World Heritage Site by Unesco since 2008, to foreigners to ensure its heritage value remains protected.

Penang Gerakan Liaison Committee member H’ng Khoon Leng said the DAP-led state government must find a solution to prevent foreigners from owning these heritage premises as priority must be given to the locals if the premises needed to be sold.

“The ‘tidak apa’ (lackadaisical) attitude cannot be tolerated and the state government must find a way to limit the purchase of premises in the state by foreigners, especially in George Town’s heritage site,” he told a press conference, here.

H’ng said many premises in George Town, such as shophouses, were found to have been sold to foreigners, especially from Singapore, and the tenants were ordered to move out soon.

He also claimed that most of the tenants refused to move out because they had been living in these premises for a long time and had nowhere else to go as they could not afford to live in other areas due to the high rental rates.

Meanwhile, a representative of the tenants of shophouses in Lebuh Katz, Ong Cheong Pin, 54, said his landlord had given him until the end of October to move out as the owner had sold the property to a Singaporean.

“We were told to stay for six months for free before moving out but we did not agree with it as we have been living here for as long as I can remember,” he said, adding that most of the families had been there for three generations.

Tanjung MCA Youth Chief Lim Swee Bok said the state government must pay a visit and see the situation for themselves to ensure that the state’s heritage was preserved.

He also hoped that the state government would be more sensitive to the plight of the tenants and act accordingly.