PKR: Childish of state govt to go after Penang Forum

Ng-Chek-SiangGEORGE TOWN: It is “immature” of the state government to label a Penang Forum member as a backstabber over a letter of concern to Unesco on the World Heritage Site here, a PKR leader said today.

Tanjong PKR division chief Ng Chek Siang said the issues raised by Forum member Dr Lim Mah Hui in a letter to the UN agency in Paris was relevant, as a major transport terminus had been proposed close to the heritage site.

He said the Sia Boey site (disused riverside produce market, named after its Hokkien nickname — ‘town’s end’), where archaeological remains were found recently, gives more reason for the world body to investigate.

“There could always be an alternative site for the transport hub.

“As a people-centric government, the people’s interest must come first and be well taken care of.

“Demolishing memories and turning them into modern structures does not sit well with all of us who are sentimental over the heritage value of the golden era of George Town,” Ng said in a statement today.

“We also find it rather immature that some people label Penang Forum and its steering committee as ‘backstabbers’ for writing to Unesco as a preventive measure to save the heritage site from destruction,” Ng added.

Recently, city councillor Lim was vilified in a letter written by George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI) general manager Ang Ming Chee. GTWHI is a state-linked agency tasked to manage the heritage site.

This was over a letter sent by the Penang Forum in June over concerns of a proposed LRT hub to be built at Sia Boey. The Forum said it was not planning to undermine the Penang government, but was merely raising its concerns.

The Penang government said Sia Boey was not part of the heritage site and hence did not pose a risk to the world heritage status.

Lim was then accused of not going through the state government first before handing the letter to Unesco. His action has been described by GTWHI as tantamount to “backstabbing”.

Meanwhile, Ng called on the authorities in Penang to treat Sia Boey and the adjacent Prangin Canal (waterway next to the market) with care, as it was steeped in historical importance.

“Sia Boey means a lot to locally-born Penangites, especially to those who used to live around George Town. During the olden days, the site was bursting with life as trade and commerce flourished along the canal.

“This area definitely counts as part of Penang’s soul and there cannot be another place which could equal the memories and historical value of Penang through the preservation of Sia Boey.

“Sia Boey’s heritage value counts as much as Fort Cornwallis.”