Side Views

Heritage and development — Penanglang

DEC 1 — Everyone knows that striking a balance between development and heritage conservation is an uphill task but it is necessary.

However, there must be effort, determination and the political will by all parties involved, especially the state government Just To Do It and enforce the law arbitrarily.

Since Penang and Malacca have been jointly listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site, the Penang state government should intensify effort to protect and maintain the state’s heritage and environment.

The situation is not good, with so many cases of demolition of buildings and illegal renovations of buildings and houses within the confines of George Town’s heritage city. Some hills in Relau, Sungai Ara, Teluk Kumbar and Balik Pulau are practically being “raped” to give way in the name of development, especially for housing. The end result is lesser greenery as trees are chopped down like nobody’s business.

Over-development and sprouting of so many high-rise condominiums and apartments that come with exorbitant prices beyond the reach of the middle-income and lower income groups are not what Penangites want.

It is useless to cry over spilt milk when most of Penang’s inheritance (keh hoay in Hokkien) is all gone and lost. We should not follow the example of Singapore. At one time, they demolished some of their beautiful pre-war houses, only to revert their policy after realising it was a mistake.

Tourists don’t come to Penang to see new and majestic buildings. They come here for the natural beauty, the beaches, the hills, the villages, the kampungs, the beautiful and intrinsic pre-war buildings, the unique architectural designs, the people, the food and the way of life.

Of course, nobody can stop development. But what Penangites need is quality of life and sustainable development with proper control of density, efficient traffic dispersal and management.

And what has happened to the gazetted Penang Local Plan which entails guidelines on land use, type of development allowed in our neighborhood, height and density of buildings, residential, commercial, type of business and usage?

The state government should step in fast to stop the situation from worsening.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.

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