GEORGE TOWN: Foreign ownership of property within the heritage enclave here is not a cause for concern as it only involves about four per cent of the total 4,000 premises.
While some see this as an issue, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the entry of foreign entities into the local market is an opportunity to restore and conserve the hundreds of dilapidated buildings in the George Town World Heritage Site.
“We still have more than 500 rundown buildings (in the enclave), the owners of which cannot afford to restore or conserve them.
“The keen interest shown by foreign entities in restoring and conserving these buildings, in a bid to return them to their glorious past, is highly commendable.
“What is important now is for us to save all the buildings – to breathe new life into them – before deciding on their usage,” he said after officiating the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site’s 10th anniversary exhibition at Bangunan UAB in Gat Lebuh China here today.
George Town was accorded World Heritage status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) on July 7, 2008. The award placed a spotlight on the city’s cultural heritage, history and landscape.
In recognition of the award, July 7 has been marked as George Town World Heritage Day.
Chow, who is also George Town World Heritage Incorporated’s chairman, said that Bangunan UAB was a godown in the past, due to its close proximity to the Penang port.
“Today, it has been restored by Khazanah Nasional Bhd and turned into an exhibition hall, which attracts people to come here for a visit.
“All these restored structures have given the inner city a new lease on life, compared to the past when they were left vacant, abandoned and in poor condition,” he added.
Earlier in his speech, Chow said that the George Town World Heritage Site belongs to each and every Penangite, and as such, there is a need to work collectively in ensuring a sustainable management of the enclave through shared responsibilities and commitment, and with a constructive approach.
“The Penang government will continue to prepare programmes and activities in the management, conservation and safeguarding of George Town’s cultural heritage, but we need the people’s support.
“Together, we will be able to grow and prove to be one of the best Unesco World Heritage Site in the world,” he added.
Get the latest World Cup 2018 scores, highlights and updates from our dedicated news page. CLICK HERE