Heritage agency cries treason over letter to Unesco

Dr-Ang-Ming-CheeGEORGE TOWN: The gloves are off and a Penang Government heritage monitor slammed Dr Lim Mah Hui  for “complaining” to Unesco over its concerns of the World Heritage Site here without going through state authorities first.

Managers for the 150ha heritage site, state-run George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI), reprimanded Lim, a Penang Forum member, through an acerbically written letter today.

Lim was blamed for “surreptitiously filing a complaint” to the UN agency based in Paris by claiming that a proposed LRT line would land at Sia Boey, where some British-era relics have been discovered.

Sia Boey, a famous riverside produce market, is currently disused. It is located out of the heritage zone near Komtar.

The Forum had sent a letter to Unesco in June, which prompted a emergency meeting with National Heritage Department officials and GTWHI over the concerns raised.

In the letter, GTWHI General Manager Dr Ang Ming Chee said Lim’s act could be compared to back-biting as the latter held key posts in the Penang Government and the city council.

“We are unable to reconcile with the fact that you had surreptitiously filed a complaint letter to Unesco against George Town without informing us.

“This is no different from being stabbed in the back because you are part of the government, being an appointed councillor with the city council, an appointed director of Penang Institute and also an appointed member of the Penang Transport Council.

“These positions were appointed by the Penang state government and we regret that you did not have the decency to inform us, or even reveal how the public feedback for the Transport Master Plan was conducted in an open, transparent and accountable manner (to Unesco),” Ang said in a statement today.

Ang also demanded that Lim retract the letter sent to Unesco and work with the Penang Government to preserve George Town as a World Heritage Site instead “of turning into an enemy of the people of Penang by jeopardising its status”.

Lim, she added, should not allow his personal grievances against the state government to take precedence against the interests of the people of Penang, who do not wish to see the World Heritage status of George Town being sabotaged by the very people who claim to defend it.

“However, putting the World Heritage Site at risk to fulfil your personal grievances is no different from holding hostage the people and all the hard work to promote, preserve and protect the heritage site of George Town.”

Ang also called on Penang Forum and Lim to stop “toying with Penang people” with their biased statements.

“Therefore, stop pointing fingers at myself or my colleagues without understanding the full picture.

“Portray truth only after you have accumulated sufficient evidence. Please do not push our society backwards with accusations and assumptions.”

Recently, Ang said Lim’s act of unilaterally sending a letter to Unesco could “cost George Town its heritage status”.

Penang Forum, in a statement, said it had merely alerted Unesco to protect George Town’s heritage status.

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Unesco alert was to save George Town’s heritage

All the hoo-ha over one single letter