GEORGE TOWN, May 3 — Penang state executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo (DAP - Datuk Keramat) today suggested that Dewan Sri Pinang be torn down and a new state legislative building be built on its grounds.
While he acknowledged that the building is a Category II heritage building, he believed it would be better off torn down for a new legislative building.
“Personally, I feel that this building may have some history to it, the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu’s funeral was held here and my father’s was also held here and this place was frequented by tens of thousands of Penangites over the years,” he said.
However, he felt that it would be better to tear it down instead of the state government trying to find land to build a new legislative building.
“There is no need to look at the Jelutong rehabilitated landfill or the Gurney Wharf reclaimed land, just build it here, there is plenty of land here,” he said.
As for the heritage legislative building just down the road, which is currently closed for restoration works, Jagdeep said it should be maintained and used as a museum.
He said it is a beautiful heritage building that should be restored.
Jagdeep had interrupted Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s winding-up speech at the legislative assembly today when the latter spoke about a proposal to build a new state legislative assembly building.
Chow said the heritage building could not accommodate the larger number of state assemblymen today.
“We will apply to the federal government for a RM150 million funding to build a new legislative assembly building and if the allocation is approved, we can see it being built very soon,” he said.
He said if the federal government does not approve the application, then the state will have to look for ways to raise funds to build the new building.
As for Jagdeep’s suggestion that Dewan Sri Pinang be demolished to make way for a new legislative building, Chow said the current space used by the assembly in the building seemed appropriate.
“There is plenty of space in the gallery that schools and university students can arrange visits to the assembly here,” he said.
However, he pointed out that the function hall has been used for cultural and arts events for many years and it is a much-needed space for such events.
The George Town Conservation and Development Corporation (GTCDC) had proposed a restoration plan for the building and it is currently gathering feedback on the project.
Chow said the restoration and rejuvenation plan for Dewan Sri Pinang was part of the North Seafront project by GTCDC.
Dewan Sri Pinang was built in 1972 as a civic centre and it is located within the George Town World Heritage Site.