Old buildings outside Penang’s heritage zone can be demolished, says Chow

One of the buildings along Lebuhraya Peel that will be demolished to make way for the Island Medical City project is pictured in George Town December 5, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
One of the buildings along Lebuhraya Peel that will be demolished to make way for the Island Medical City project is pictured in George Town December 5, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Dec 5 ― There are no special requirements that prevent the demolition of heritage buildings outside of the Unesco World Heritage Site here, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said.

The Penang lawmaker said heritage buildings listed under Category II of the state heritage building list can still be demolished as long as it is done with the necessary approvals from the local council.

“For class two heritage buildings outside heritage area, there are no specific requirements that it can not be demolished, but they are subjected to council’s approvals, depending on the condition of the buildings,” he told a press conference today.

Chow was asked whether the remaining three category II heritage buildings along Lebuhraya Peel will be demolished to make way for the Island Medical City (IMC) project.

Heritage buildings are categorised under Category I or Category II under the state heritage building list.

Category I is for buildings, monuments or sites of exceptional interest that has Outstanding Universal Values while Category II is for buildings or sites of special interest that warrant every effort being made to preserve them.

One Category II heritage building off Peel Avenue was already demolished to make way for the IMC project with three remaining buildings being earmarked for demolition.

Chow confirmed that the IMC project developer has already obtained the necessary approvals from the local authorities to demolish the remaining buildings.

He said those buildings were former government quarters and, though classified as Category II heritage buildings, will soon be demolished.

Chow recently officiated the groundbreaking ceremony of the RM2 billion IMC project.

The project is an expansion of the current Island Hospital and it will include a 600-bed medical complex, medical suites and a medical tourism hotel.

Heritage watchdog, Penang Heritage Trust’s (PHT) Khoo Salma criticised the state government for allowing these buildings to be demolished.

“Although a State Heritage Enactment was passed in 2011, it has not been used to protect any buildings,” she said.

“Although our government is basking in the glory of Unesco recognition, there is no political will even to protect its own buildings. How sad is that,” she posted on her Facebook page a day after the groundbreaking ceremony.

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