GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow today opened an exhibition to mark the 10th anniversary of George Town’s inscription as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The title of the exhibition, “George Town: Beautiful and Irregular Exhibition”, is inspired by a letter by English artist and writer Augustus Prinsep to his wife when he saw Penang for the first time in 1829 from the deck of the ship that was taking him to Australia.
In his speech, Chow said the exhibition was special and important to George Town as it merged all the pieces “that make us the George Town that we are today”.
He noted that after 10 years of being a World Heritage Site, the state has achieved a number of accomplishments, but the road ahead is long.
Chow stressed on the need for everyone to increase their knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the city and its history.
“Through this exhibition, we will be sharing with you the beauty and irregularity of George Town as one of the ways to know George Town better.
“One of the most important exhibits is the certificate issued by Unesco in 2008, inscribing George Town on the World Heritage List. It is the first time that Penangites will get to see the certificate.
“More importantly, we hope that through the illustration of the content, all visitors will be enlightened on the history, significance and spirit of this recognition given to George Town,” he said.
Also present were state Tourism Development, Heritage, Culture and Arts committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin, Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Yew Tung Seang, George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) general manager Ang Ming Chee and Think City executive director Hamdan Abdul Majeed.
Among the items on display at the exhibition is the Prince of Wales Island Gazette, the first newspaper in Southeast Asia that was established in George Town in 1806.
The English weekly was known as the Government Gazette until it was renamed in 1807, and it was published until July 7, 1827.
Also on display are samples of the Penang Sin Poe newspaper, which was established by a Straits Chinese man, Lim Seng Hooi, in 1894. It was later incorporated into Kwong Wah Yit Poh.
“The exhibition also looks into our grandparents’ generation, in particular on the women of that time, some 100 years ago, on fashion and lifestyle.
“There is also a section on the ‘Modern Girl’ phenomenon which emerged in the 1920s, at a time when women were not afraid to fight for their education, career, clothes as well as husbands.
“Such bravery on pushing boundaries and experimenting with ways to express their identity has pushed the gender equality agenda of women in Penang today,” Chow said.
He emphasised on the need to work collectively to ensure a sustainable management through shared responsibilities and commitment, and with a constructive approach.
“I am honoured to witness the growth of George Town, and I strongly believe that community empowerment through education will ensure that our heritage is appreciated, acknowledged and protected for the future generations,” he added.