Gerakan: What happened to Penang’s promise to restore heritage shophouses?

GEORGE TOWN, Dec 7 — The Penang government must explain what happened to its plan to restore a row of six heritage shophouses along Kimberley Street and rent it to traditional traders, Gerakan said today.

Penang Gerakan Youth Assistant Secretary Loh Kit Mun pointed out that the row of derelict shophouses remain untouched till today, more than a year since the state government announced its plan restore the row of shophouses belonging to the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).

He said that in August last year, George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI), announced that the shophouses will be restored beginning of this year and works were expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

“This is the last month of 2016 and nothing has been done on these buildings. What happened to the restoration and the promises to use these buildings for traditional trades?” Loh told a press conference here.

“Is the state government even serious about protecting the traditional trades and intangible heritage of George Town?

“These shophouses were supposed to be alternative sites for traditional businesses that have been evicted but the buildings are not ready,” he claimed.

He accused the state government of not caring about the mass exit of traditional trades from the heritage zone due to evictions by building owners.

Loh also questioned the state government over its plans to create the RM9.7 million “Centre of Traditional and Creative Trades” at the corner of Acheen Street and Victoria Street.

He referred to a Malay Mail Online report in June this year that quoted Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng saying that an open tender will be called for the project in July.

“It’s been six months. We want to know what’s the progress of the project? There are no other announcements about it after that,” he said.

He demanded that GTWHI and the Penang state government reveal its plans and proposals to protect and retain heritage zones.

“Are they doing something about it or do they think organising some festivals and fancy games are enough to preserve the traditional trades of George Town?” he asked.