MCA Tanjung division Youth chief Lim Swee Bok has identified four shophouses that are idle as drug addicts in Lebuh Presgrave, Georgetown, Penang. Pic by NSTP/RAMDZAN MASIAM

GEORGE TOWN: Many pre-war buildings within the George Town heritage enclave here are dilapidated and pose a danger to nearby residents, Penang MCA said.

Its Tanjung division Youth chief Lim Swee Bok said the beams, pillars, grilles and bricks of these rundown houses have been stolen, making them unstable.

“The houses are now unstable and lack proper foundation. These buildings could collapse anytime, taking down nearby buildings with them,” he told reporters here today.

Lim said many of these rundown pre-war houses were owned by foreigners, who had bought the buildings earlier.

“For example, a row of pre-war houses at Lebuh Presgrave here was purchased by foreigners.

“However, the foreigner could not develop his business due to unknown reasons, and the buildings have since been neglected,” he said.

Lim said some of the heritage houses had even turned into a den for drug addicts.

“There are syringes and other items left at the houses, which suggest that drug addicts haunt the place.

“From the condom packets found on the floor, we believe they even carry out immoral activities,” he said.

Moreover, Lim said, there were rubbish strewn everywhere and pools of stagnant water, making it a dengue breeding ground.

He said the residents nearby had complained that they were living in fear over the condition of the buildings.

“The residents are also afraid for their family's safety with drug addicts loitering and lighting up in the vacant houses,” he said.

Lim questioned the state government and Penang Island City Council (MBPP) efforts in monitoring these buildings and ensuring they were not a hazard to others.

He also asked what role the Penang Heritage Act and George Town Special Area Plan play in preserving and protecting these buildings.

“After George Town was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site, the state government’s lack of action in protecting the heritage buildings have opened doors to foreigners, sweeping up large swatches of Penang’s valuable heritage real estate.

"This has resulted in a drastic increment in rentals and population migration, which have sabotaged the city’s cultural and living heritage.

“The DAP-led state government has once again failed to protect heritage buildings by allowing it to fall into a dilapidated state,” he said.

Lim said the state MCA urged the state government to take immediate action to strictly implement policies to protect the heritage buildings and make sure public safety was not threatened.

Meanwhile, attempts by the New Straits Times to get a response from the state government and MBPP proved futile.

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