Penang opens Harmony Centre for non-Muslim groups

The Malay kampung house design is said to be from the 1900s. The verandah with ketupat-weave lattices is on the right.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has unveiled a RM2.5 million facility for non-Muslims to use to hold their gatherings.

Called Penang Harmony Centre, it is located on Scotland Road in a tropical garden setting.

One of the buildings is a renovated a colonial-era state government bungalow with a verandah featuring lattices in a ketupat-weave motif.

The 4,300 sq ft Malay-style bungalow has been converted to make space for learning sessions, meetings and other events.

A new 2,800 sq ft community hall with capacity for 200 has been built next to the bungalow. It has accordion walls to allow for natural lighting.

The bungalow can fit 80 people at any one time. In its front lawn is a pole with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” translated into four languages.

The vast lawn is of carpet grass and there are gravel paths built below roof gutters to soak in excess rainwater.

Religious leaders for Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Taoists at the opening ceremony.

At the large back portion is a garden with sets of outdoor swings and old jemerlang laut trees that provide a natural canopy. There are also tall coconut trees scattered around.

The garden provides a view of the Air Itam river and waters flowing from the Botanical Gardens.

The centre is run by Penang Chief Minister Incorporated and was officially opened yesterday by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow after the recital of prayers by priests and leaders of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.

Chow announced that religious organisations could each use the centre’s facilities for free once before the year’s end.