Penang courthouse in deplorable state, says lawyer

rayerGEORGE TOWN: The High Court building here is in a deplorable state, a lawyer said, after cracks, falling woodwork and other anomalies were spotted in parts of the colonial-era building along Light Street.

In voicing concern, Seri Delima assemblyman R S N Rayer sent out an alert to his fellow lawyers, saying the falling bricks and the prolonged closure of a wooden staircase could prove dangerous in the long run.

He urged the authorities to look into the safety of the building before anything untoward happened.

“Big cracks seem to appear on the concrete ceiling and wooden roofing.

“The access to the car park of one of the High Court judges has also been cordoned off for repairs to the ceiling.

“I am forced to raise this as everyone seems to be busy going about their work, oblivious to the inherent and ominous danger,” he said in a statement today.

Rayer said the local authorities ought to certify it safe as soon as possible.

The High Court building, which housed the former Penang Supreme Court, was built in 1904. It now houses five High Courts, four Sessions Courts and three Magistrate’s Courts.

Prior to that, an older courthouse stood at the same site in 1809, making it the first courthouse ever built in the country, even before Singapore’s secession from Malaysia.

It has gone through a series of less than successful attempts at restoration over the years, with the last one in 2005.

Along with the restoration work, an annexed three-storey building was also built in the compound towards Farquhar Street.

A seven-story building housing lower courts was also built across the court complex as part of the project.

It was reported that some RM70 million ringgit was allocated for the project.

Meanwhile, Penang Island City Council building director Yew Tung Seang said it would send a team of inspectors to the courthouse to check on the situation.

The Chief Registrar’s office said it would release a statement on the matter.