Penang extends Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Think City collab

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow at a press conference in George Town December 12, 2018. —  Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow at a press conference in George Town December 12, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Dec 21 — The Penang government renewed its collaboration with Think City and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for another three years to complete key public realm improvement projects in the heritage zone.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the three partners agreed to the extension with the aim of completing the North Seafront conservation works at Fort Cornwallis and the establishment of a Maritime Museum in the Syed Alatas Mansion. 

“Over the past three years, our focus has been on public realm improvements. Going forward we will need a different approach in order to demonstrate that conservation and development can be self-sustaining,” Chow said in a statement today, after his visit to His Highness Prince Shah Karim Aga Khan at his residence in France recently.

Chow said the three partners have also agreed to expand the role of its special purpose vehicle — George Town Conservation and Development Corporation Sdn Bhd (GTCDC) — to include large-scale master planning especially George Town’s Northern and Eastern Seafront. 

Chow said the Aga Khan Trust for Culture established Foundation Chantilly, in close partnership with the Institute de France, which is a financially sustainable model to conserve, activate and develop a tourism economy based on culture. 

“A similar model could be applied to George Town,” he said.

The Penang lawmaker, in his capacity as the chairman of GTCDC, led a delegation from Penang and Think City to France this week.

He led discussions with GTCDC partners, including Think City and Aga Khan Trust for Culture, to review the past three years of collaboration since the signing of the GTCDC Management Collaboration Agreement on October 16 in 2015.

GTCDC is a tripartite partnership between the Penang State Government’s Chief Minister’s Incorporated (CMI), Think City and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture that was established in 2015.

The special purpose vehicle, through CMI with strong support from the Penang Island City Council (MBPP), has 17 ongoing public realms improvement and conservation projects at a total cost of approximately RM48 million.

Out of the 17 projects, five projects were fully completed, namely the Armenian Park and Backlanes (2015), the Esplanade drainage and subsoil improvement project (2016), the restoration of the Fountain Garden (2018) and the China Street Ghaut streetscape upgrading (2018). 

“GTCDC will be working closely with MBPP to mitigate the effects of gentrification and develop strategies to repopulate the core of the historic area,” Chow said.

He added that 2019 will be a crucial year for GTCDC as many of the projects will come to fruition.

“The GTCDC will also be focusing on capacity building programmes and hopes to make Penang a national centre for conservation works in the country and the region,” he said.

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