CM: Penang LRT project ‘not in heritage zone’

lim-guan-eng

GEORGE TOWN: The state government’s proposed light rail transit project from Komtar to Bayan Lepas will not be constructed on the Unesco World Heritage Site of George Town, the chief minister, Lim Guan Eng, said today.

He said the project would not even go near George Town, Bernama reported.

“The proposed LRT project will not even touch the Unesco World Heritage Site, so why make it an issue?,” he said, in response to criticisms from the Penang Forum group of civil society organisations.

The LRT is proposed as part of the first phase of the multi-billion ringgit Penang Transport Master Plan.

“If they are not in favour of the PTMP, so be it, but it is not right to protest it like this and risking losing the Unesco World Heritage Site status,” he told reporters today.

The Penang Forum has sent a letter to Unesco headquarters in Paris pointing out its concerns that the PTMP would cause serious and specific danger to the unique cultural heritage of George Town, which is listed by Unesco together with Malacca as cities of the Straits Settlements.

The Penang Forum, a coalition of non-governmental organisations based in Penang, have said the proposed LRT, on the border of the heritage zone, and projects in the master plan posed a threat to the universal value of George Town as a world heritage site.

The letter dated June 23 comprised 28 pages with four pages of text, 13 pages of pictures and 11 pages of appendices under the subject ‘Melaka and George Town World Heritage Property: Request for Unesco Advisory Mission and Impact Assessment of Proposed Master Plan in George Town, Penang’.

Lim said today he felt like he had been ‘stabbed in the back’ because the letter was sent by a member of the Penang Island City Council.

He accused the Penang Forum of seeking to have the Unesco heritage listing revoked. “We will go all-out to defend it (Unesco heritage site). This is defamatory,” Bernama quoted him as saying. However he did not state what he considered to be defamatory.

The Penang Forum has said that the letter was sent to alert Unesco of the potential dangers to George Town’s heritage posed by the projects in the master plan.

The Bayan Lepas LRT project is among three proposed highways, a proposed monorail line, a proposed cross-channel tunnel and proposed land reclamation to create two islands off the south coast for property development as payment for the projects.

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Unesco alert was to save George Town’s heritage