The Fall of the Straits Settlements?

Last night, I wrote a bit about how Georgetown may lose its UNESCO Heritage Site status. Tonight, I shall write a bit more and tell you what impact should such event take place.

If you can recall I wrote that Georgetown in Pulau Pinang, and the City of Melaka in Melaka, were bestowed UNESCO Heritage Site status on 7 July 2008.

Unlike Pulau Pinang, Melaka is certainly proud of its UNESCO Heritage Site status

The application for the status was first made sometime in 1998 but failed to achieve the status as the documentation was not proper.

If I recall correctly, the Federal government had to step in through its Jabatan Warisan Negara (National Heritage Department) to properly structure the application to UNESCO.

In January 2007 the Nomination Dossier was submitted. In July, the official acknowledgment from UNESCO was received.

This followed a visit by officials from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) to Georgetown and Melaka between 24 to 31 August 2007. They include Professor Yukio Nishimura who is from the Department of Urban Engineering, University of Tokyo.

The Baba Nyonya and Portuguese heritages as well as their society is preserved by the Melaka government

Since being bestowed the status, Melaka took the necessary steps to ensure that the descendants of the historical Melaka people, its customs and sites remain preserved with very little restoration modifications done.

One can almost imagine Portuguese and Dutch soldiers walk upon the grounds of this church on St John’s Hill, Melaka

Both Melaka and Georgetown are similar in many ways. Some parts of both cities are time capsules of eras that have passed, eras that played a huge role in shaping the two cities. But that is where the similarities end.

In Georgetown you can hardly find the original people. Although the clans still have their presence there, only the richer ones remain on the island while poorer ones have moved to the mainland.

Gone are the sundry shops, the second-hand bookstores I used to frequent along Armenian Street, the old Chinese man weaving rattan baskets and the Malabari newsagents.

While the facade of their shops remain, inside are rows upon rows of boutique hotels and hipster cafes that are owned by foreigners and by that I mean non-citizens.

Pulau Pinang’s adamant stand to fulfill its Transportation Master Plan as wel as the selling of heritage buildings to foreigners also contribute to Georgetown losing its heritage status. Changing the landscape by the reclamation works to build three man-made islands would also destroy Pulau Pinang’s heritage.

Other than having to maintain and preserve historical buildings and sites, multi-cultural tangible and intangible heritage expressed in the great variety of religious buildings of different faiths, ethnic quarters, the many languages, worship and religious festivals, dances, costumes, art and music, food, and daily life must also continue to be preserved.

Under the guise of development the DAP-led state government of Pulau Pinang is only interested in making as much money as it possibly could.  After all, land is money? Why worry about 40 buildings that nobody could live in when you have preserved five?

But what I am about to tell you will make many become apoplectic with rage – if Georgetown loses its UNESCO Heritage Site status, SO WILL MELAKA.

Yes, the UNESCO Heritage Site status was jointly awarded to both Georgetown and Melaka on 7 July 2008, and the Jabatan Warisan Negara is the body to preserve the sites as per the status. There was one joint-application to UNESCO for both cities.

But with land being a state prerogative, what chances does the department or all Pulau Pinang’s heritage NGOs have? The innocent victim here would be the people of Melaka. If robbed of its status because of the callous behaviour of the Pulau Pinang state government, the romance of showcasing historical sites to tourists in Melaka would be forever gone. So would be the businesses, the trishaw riders, and possibly some of the archaeological excavation sites.

Yes, Tokong’s greed and selfishness will not only destroy Pulau Pinang, they will destroy Melaka too. Does he care? I doubt. The people of Melaka are not going to vote for him next year.

The sun will soon set on Melaka’s UNESCO Heritage Site status because of the Tokong

April’s Fools

Those who believed Lim Guan Eng’s lies back in March 2008 are among those who believed the promise that the Tokong would be able to solve the 40-year flood woes in just eight months.

A hundred and eight months later there seems to be no end in sight to the recurring floods in Penang.


In the latest episode, torrential rain that occurred just before sunset yesterday saw Jalan Kampung Relau, Bayan Baru, Farlim, Jalan Paya Terubong, Sungai Dua, Jalan Masjid Negeri and Jalan P Ramlee inundated by flood waters for the second time in one week.

Perhaps, this is the reason Tokong doesn’t need a swimming pool in his bungalow. Flood waters would give him an instant one. After all, how many times do you jump into a swimming pool in a year if you have one?


The Tokong is notorious for not fulfilling promises made.

Yesterday the Minister of Works Datuk Fadillah Yusof asked Tokong for an update of the studies that are being done to support Penang’s request for a third bridge.

Fadillah said that Tokong had submitted the request to the ministry in May last year and that three months later, the Penang Chief Minister acknowledged that the RM305 million studies for the project had not been completed.

Tokong then told the Ministry that the studies would be submitted either at the end of 2016 or early 2017.

“As it was the end of the first quarter and past the deadline stated by Lim, it is well within our right to ask for an update,” Fadillah said in a statement yesterday.

Tokong revealed that the feasibility studies for the undersea tunnel were now “stuck” at 87% completion because the state had not received the master plan for the 650ha reclamation around the Butterworth Outer Ring Road.

What surprised me is that although no approval has been given by Tokong’s government since the master plan has yet to be completed, reclamation works off Gurney Drive is already in full swing.


“This master reclamation plan has yet to be completed despite the project being awarded in 1999 and despite DAP running the state for nine years. We are aware that large-scale reclamation has started on the island and has progressed at a good pace since a year ago,” Fadillah explained.

Does this mean that the Tokong is accustomed to doing things without following procedures which have been there to curb abuses?

Perhaps this practice has become a norm now in Penang, which is why Emperor Lim Kit Siang is seeking to contest in Penang should his son’s imminent jail term commence.

Penang is a money pot and the dictatorship of both Tokong and the Emperor ensures that no dissenters are allowed.


I would be surprised if the corrupted Tokong and his dictatorial father will continue to have a hold on Penang.

Then again, there will always be the April’s Fools.

The Silence Is MACC

  
Roughly a year ago the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission began drumming up for war against 1MDB with one goal and one goal only – to piece together selective evidences collected so there would be a corruption case against Najib Razak. As an investigator, that is how I perceive the investigation conducted by the MACC.

Recently, there has been an exposé on a certain property at No.25 Jalan Pinhorn in Georgetown, Pulau Pinang. In the words of MCA’s Tan Khai Beng:

  
This is the property in question:

  
The S&P sounds VERY similar to the case of the original Mr Botox, Khir Toyo, the former Menteri Besar of Selangor who, with his cohorts, caused the serious erosion of support towards the Barisan Nasional and its subsequent virtually irrecoverable loss in Selangor in 2008. Khir was sentenced to 12 months (I wish it was years instead) imprisonment for a similar property deal.

  
While surrounding properties have been valued at between RM5 million to RM6 million, this particular property cost Lim Guan Eng almost a third of its value. When asked about the price, Guan Eng’s pathetic excuse was:

  
I don’t care so much about the property. My real concern is this:

  
Why hasn’t the MACC concluded the investigation into the sale and purchase of the property at No.25 Jalan Pinhorn? The investigation paper was opened in 2012 and it’s been four years already with no end in sight. I am beginning to question MACC’s apartisanship and the integrity of its officers.

Perhaps, the MACC too has a price.