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

Making Money While They Still Can

The blood, sweat and tears shed to get the UNESCO Heritage Site status for Pulau Pinang will soon go to waste
On 7 July 2008, four months after DAP’s coming into power in Pulau Pinang, the old part of its capital Georgetown was declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site.

Georgetown, alongside Melaka, were chosen on that day because both demonstrate a succession of historical and cultural influences arising from their former function as trading ports linking East and West.

These are the most complete surviving historic city centres on the Straits of Malacca with a multi-cultural living heritage originating from the trade routes from Great Britain and Europe through the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and the Malay Archipelago to China.

Both are living testimony to the multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, and European colonial influences. This multi-cultural tangible and intangible heritage is 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.

But after nine years, Georgetown will soon lose it all. In 1966 the Alliance government of Pulau Pinang introduced the Control of Rent Act (CRA) to help original tenants in the inner-city area have the rights to enjoy low rental rates for housing, allowing them to continuously reside and practice their trades in the area. The Act was repealed and this led to a drastic increase in rent.

This has led to the gentrification of not only Georgetown, but also the rest of the island side of Pulau Pinang that have chased away those who can no longer afford to live on the island – the poorer Chinese, the Malays and also the Indians, who were the real reason UNESCO granted the status upon Georgetown.

The gentrification of Pulau Pinang has led to the poorer people to move out and settle elsewhere. Those who cannot afford to move out continue to live in Georgetown on God’s good humour

Without the RCA, Tokong’s DAP government is no longer restricted to raise the market price of land within the heritage site and this has led to the redevelopment of areas within the site and selling them to foreigners.

The Tokong does not care for Georgetown’s heritage sites, and this is evident in his attitude towards the preservation of the Sia Boey. The sooner he could sell that piece of land off, the more money is made.

This “don’t-care” attitude of Tokong’s is just like his Underwater Tunnel Project. The reclamation works for the project has gone full swing, yet the feasibility study for it has yet to be submitted.

How is it possible that works can start before a feasibility study is submitted?

The RM305 million study, which Pulau Pinang taxpayers paid for some time back, is still not completed. It was back in March this year that the Tokong said it was 87 percent complete.

It has been six months since the study’s completion was at 87 percent

Today, more than six months later, Tokong still has not submitted the feasibility study to the Ministry of Works.

18 months to do a report? Another six months and I could have completed a Masters in something

Tokong will continue to give all sorts of stupid excuses for not being able to submit the report and stretch this until after the next general election if at all possible.

All we know is that while he is busy giving excuses, there would be more land within the heritage site that would be sold.

The clock is ticking, however Tokong knows how to buy more time to be able to make more money by getting rid of the UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Pulau Pinang Should Be Left To Be Plundered By Guan Eng

A dog cooked alive by people in China

A day ago, a video of a dog being cooked alive in a large wok made its rounds on the Internet.  As sickening as it was, I cannot help but think of the helpless dog as Pulau Pinang, the cook Lim Guan Eng, and the laughing crowd are the Pulau Pinang voters whom has allowed outsider Guan Eng to continue to plunder the island, literally screwing the locals painfully from behind while telling them that it is for their own good while only he is pleasured by the act.

Coincidentally today is the anniversary of Corrupt Minister Lim Guan Eng’s arrest for corrupt practices including using his office and position to influence the price of a property that he had bought.

So much for boasting that he would fight back to clear his name, he has been avoiding trial by claiming many things including that the Act used to arrest him is unconstitutional.  Even blabber-mouthed Tony Pua dared not walk the talk to ask the Tokong to step down from his post – and this has been almost 16 months to the date ball-less Tony Pua said to reporters that the Tokong should step down if charged for corruption.

Since then it has been “ops normal” for the Tokong, running Pulau Pinang like his little own business, selling virtually everything except the backside of the people of Pulau Pinang thus far. He is still not done screwing them from behind.

Not only has he not been able to answer or refute any of the allegations made by the Barisan Nasional, especially on the Pulau Pinang Tunnel project issue, he has been asking his little dog Chow Kow Yeow to do the answering for him, and like the dog in the video Chow Kow Yeow got into hot soup – literally.

Today, a former Pulau Pinang City councillor Dr Lim Mah Hui made a shocking revelation.  In an open letter, today Dr Lim claims that

a developer wants to develop a big project to build 600 high-rise apartments, even though 43 percent of their land exceeds a 25-degree gradient and qualifies as sensitive hill land.

This land was registered as hill land under the Pulau Pinang Land Conservation Act 1960, which means no development is allowed.

However, the developer bought the land in 2010 anyway and applied to the Pulau Pinang State Government in 2011 for the land to be released from protected status.

In the same year in Dec 2011, the State Planning Committee (SPC) approved the release and allowed the development in to commence the same month upon payment of just RM1 million from the developer.

Dr Lim made headlines in December 2016 when he walked out of the City Council before the expiration of his term.

In March last year, he was involved in a heated exchange with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng during an NGO dialogue session over parking woes, road-widening projects and the council enforcement’s car-towing figures. Later in June 2016 he sent a letter to Unesco expressing fears that the PTMP would jeopardise George Town’s World Heritage Site status while in July 2016, Dr Lim criticised the state’s Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) and suggested an alternative better, cheaper, faster transport master plan.

According to Dr Lim, the gazetted Penang Structure Plan explicitly forbade development on sensitive hill land unless it is a “special project” approved by the state government. How a housing project could have been approved by MBPP under the rubric of “special project” is the subject of contention in this legal case.

What does Tokong care about the plight of the lower income group in Pulau Pinang? As long as money can be made to finance the ever-growing state government expenditure, everything is alright to them.  People who love the greenery, and fishermen can go fly kites for all he care.

The T-shirt worn by the wife of a Queensbay fisherman says it all

Not only has the Pulau Pinang state government’s operating expenditure has risen exponientially compared to when DAP took over the island from BN, parking charges, rates and water tariffs too have been on the increase to finance the extravagance. Just look at how much the spending by the state government under the Tokong has increased in just nine years.

The last seven years under BN compared to the years under DAP

To divert the attention of the people, Tokong today tried to stir the almost dead DoJ issue.  Despite the DoJ documents not listing MO1 or wife of MO1 as people affected by the investigation, and documented evidence that the misappropriated money used by Jho Low et al to purchase priceless goods have nothing to do with the 1MDB, he insists that that is the cause of the economy going bad leading to the government having to implement the GST which in turn led to the higher cost of living.

This does not explain why Saudi Arabia has decided to impose VAT in January 2018 and began a BR1M-like cash-transfer program for its lower income citizens.

Tokong’s argument also does not explain why the Singaporean economy will continue to be sluggish even without a 1MDB.

Nor does it explain oil-rich Venezuela’s extremely high inflation rates and the near-collapse of its economy.

Al Jazeera’s graph showing Venezuela’s volcanic inflation rate

The Tokong also dismissed claims that the DoJ suit is Opposition-driven, and was planned by the Opposition.

He said the United States could have used military might and need not file civil suits in its own country if it wanted to topple the Malaysian government.

US can use military instead of legal suit to topple government screams DAP and Malaysian Incite

This prompted Parti Cina Malaysia’s Deputy President, Datuk Huan Cheng Guan, to lodge a police report against the statement made by Tokong.

Datuk Huan Cheng Guan posing with his police report made against the Tokong

I don’t know if the Pulau Pinang people who are not like Penang Lang Datuk Huan Cheng Guan actually care if the Tokong wants gwei loh to run the country. Gawky Ah Lians who support the DAP and blackened their profile pics on Facebook during the last general election won’t mind having gwei lohs running the country either.  It probably makes them feel extra superior.

Of course, Pulau Pinang people have a price, and a cheap one too.  For a mere RM1 million, like Tokong, you too can screw their behind.  And they seem to love how Tokong does it to their backside while he continues to steal from them.