GEORGE TOWN: A fake tomb constructed for a movie at the 230-year old Protestant Cemetery here, raising the ire of local conservation activists, has been removed, Penang’s heritage site managers said today.
George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI) communications officer Andy Koay said the “mock grave”, which was constructed with a cement base and marble headstone, was dismantled yesterday afternoon.
The “grave” of a character named Danny Song was built near the tomb of Captain Francis Light, founder of George Town and pioneer of the British colonial administration in Penang, before the Hari Raya holidays.
Activists have since described the building of such a concrete structure for a Hong Kong film project in the historic cemetery which had its last burial in 1892 as sacrilegious.
The grave bore the inscription “Danny Song (1976.05.10-2018.08.01)”.
“It is a temporary structure. We have written to the film company and advised them to respect the site and the souls resting there,” the official who did not want to be named said when contacted.
“As for permission to erect such a structure, that comes under the (Penang island) city council (MBPP),” Koay told FMT.
MBPP officials have not replied to requests for comment.
China Press reported that actress Charmaine Sheh and a film crew were spotted at the cemetery last Friday (June 23) while filming a movie there.
The 41-year-old Hong Kong soap star was seen wearing a trench coat and paying her “last respects” at the mock grave.
It is learnt the film crew had arrived in Penang on June 20 and were shooting scenes mostly in Batu Ferringhi and other tourist areas in the state.
The filming at the cemetery took place last Friday morning, with the mock grave constructed the day before.
A source close to the film crew said the grave, made with bricks and cement, was “hollow”.
Meanwhile, GTWHI said those interested to learn more about the cemetery can purchase a book titled “Epitaph: The Northam Road Protestant Cemetery, George Town, Penang” from their office at the corner of Carnarvon Street and Acheen Street.
The 800-page book contains data on 464 surviving memorials and tombs, together with a list of 1,437 names of persons known to have been interred in the cemetery.
GTWHI is a Penang government company entrusted with managing, monitoring and promoting the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site.