Landmark Penang garden gets RM300,000 makeover

The late 19th-century fountain adjacent to the Penang Townhall was donated by Koh Seang Tat whose grandfather, Koh Lay Huan, was the first Kapitan Cina of Penang. — Pictures by Sayuti Zainudin
The late 19th-century fountain adjacent to the Penang Townhall was donated by Koh Seang Tat whose grandfather, Koh Lay Huan, was the first Kapitan Cina of Penang. — Pictures by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, March 5 — A historic garden here with a 135-year-old fountain as its centrepiece will be restored by Think City as part of the North Seafront Masterplan.

Work on the RM300,000 project started last month and is set to be complete by early May.

According to Think City managing director Hamdan Abdul Majeed, the fountain and garden were established to commemorate the opening of the Town Hall back in 1883.

“In recognition of this historic site, we are conserving this site and restoring it back to the original garden layout that was established in accordance with the guidelines of the ICOMOS Florence Charter of 1981 adopted by Unesco,” he said.

The improvements to the famed garden are part of a series of projects to upgrade the north seafront.

The late 19th-century fountain was donated by Koh Seang Tat whose grandfather, Koh Lay Huan, was the first Kapitan Cina of Penang.

Lay Huan had sought and obtained permission from Francis Light to settle in Penang with his men.

The North Seafront Masterplan is aimed at creating a connected public promenade that stretches from Dewan Sri Pinang to Fort Cornwallis and the entrance to Swettenham Pier on the East Seafront.

“The whole initiative will expand the city’s limited public spaces and improve public amenities in the heritage site,” Hamdan said.

The garden rehabilitation is the first of its kind in George Town as it seeks to restore it to the geometric design from its Renaissance period.

Existing trees will be maintained, the Koh Seang Tat fountain will be reconditioned and original plant species will be reintroduced in the restoration.

State exco Chow Kon Yeow, who visited the fountain site today, said there are more projects in the pipeline under the masterplan.

“After this, the parking area in front of Dewan Sri Pinang will be restored into a public park and there are plans to rebuild the seawall from the Navy base up to Medan Renong,” he said.

State exco Chow Kon Yeow (right), who visited the fountain site today, said there are more projects in the pipeline under the masterplan.
State exco Chow Kon Yeow (right), who visited the fountain site today, said there are more projects in the pipeline under the masterplan.

The seawall upgrade, set to cost RM15 million, will involve rebuilding the structure and strengthening it as some parts have crumbled.

“Some parts underneath are hollowed out so the road could even collapse so we have to restore the whole seawall,” Chow said.

The concept masterplan for the overall project is developed by the George Town Conservation and Development Corporation (GTCDC), a tripartite partnership between the Penang state government’s Chief Minister’s Incorporated (CMI), Think City Sdn Bhd and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

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