Another heritage building disappearing, more to come? Penang Gerakan
12 Sep 2014, 4:58 PM
Yet another of Penang’s rich heritage buildings is making way for a new modern structure, thus changing the state’s skyline.
This time, it is the Khaw Sim Bee Mansion on Pykett Road, and many Penangites will still remember the majestic building that stands pride and pomp.
Hence, Penang Gerakan is crying foul why the DAP-led state government and Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) are allowing this happening.
Penang Gerakan secretary Oh Tong Keong said he did not understand the go-ahead for the development, despite vehement objections and protests by NGOs and neighborhood residents against the project
Oh questioned whether MPPP has any authority left when it comes to approving projects with conditions and guidelines so much so that developers can simply ignore and demolish heritage buildings.
Local Chinese newspapers had recently quoted State Executive Councilor Chow Kon Yeow as saying that part of Khaw Sim Bee mansion on Pykett Road would be demolished to give way to development.
Oh recalled a news report in 2011 saying that MPPP had directed the developer to restore the Khaw Sim Bee Mansion.
“I am puzzled how the developer can go against MPPP’s directive and instead submit a new drawing with part of the mansion demolished,” said Oh in a press statement.
Oh said failure to protect the Khaw Sim Bee Mansion would prove MPPP’s incapability to execute its power as a local authority, adding that it would lend weight to talks that currently in Penang, developers are more powerful than MPPP.
“This is another heritage demolition after Gerakan revealed the demolition of 218 Macalister Road heritage building,” Oh said.
Oh said that 218 Macalister Road heritage building had been demolished three months ago and MPPP president Datuk Patahiyah Ismail has still not given answers to questions concerning the project.
Oh is concerned that many more heritage buildings will be brought down by developers before the MPPP can come up with strict guidelines.
Chow had reportedly asked for a draft for more guidelines on heritage building protection when he was asked about the 218 Macalister Road incident.
Oh pointed out that the former BN Penang state government had worked so hard for World Heritage status to protect Penang’s heritage. “But the current DAP-led Penang state government just let it rot,” Oh lamented.