Penang assembly approves law to regulate state’s museums

The Museum Board (State of Penang) Bill 2020 stipulated that any museum, private as well as commercial, will first need to obtain approval from the board before it can operate. ― Picture by KE Ooi
The Museum Board (State of Penang) Bill 2020 stipulated that any museum, private as well as commercial, will first need to obtain approval from the board before it can operate. ― Picture by KE Ooi

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GEORGE TOWN, Oct 19 — The Penang legislative assembly approved today the Museum Board (State of Penang) Bill 2020 to set up a board empowered to supervise and regulate museums in the state.

The Bill stipulated that any museum, private as well as commercial, will first need to obtain approval from the board before it can operate.

However, the enactment is not applicable to any private museum that has been in operation legally before its commencement.

Also exempted were museums established by both the state and federal governments as well as those operated for charitable and non-profit purposes.

While debating the enactment, Opposition assemblyman Yusni Mat Piah (PAS-Penaga) agreed such a law was needed.

“There are many private museums in Penang that needed to be regulated there’s a war museum, and I am not sure if Datuk Speaker has been there, there is a ghost museum that has Malay ghosts, Chinese ghosts, Japanese ghosts and even Dracula,” he said, much to the amusement of the other assemblymen and the Speaker Datuk Law Choo Kiang.

Law even asked where the museum was located, to which Yusni said it was along Malay Street in George Town.

Yusni said the law would let the state regulate these private museums and would show the state’s seriousness in handling this matter.

Backbencher M. Satees (DAP-Bagan Dalam), in his debate, hoped the museum board would also look into protecting Penang’s history and its historical sites.

“This Bill will give the board director the authority to correct the state’s historical facts and this is important as our history was often manipulated out of context,” he said.

He then hoped the board will look into restoring the state’s many historical artefact and sites such as the Cherok Tokun relic with ancient inscriptions on the rock that dated back thousands of years and an ancient Buddhist temple with a Buddhagupta relic in North Seberang Perai.

Satees said the Cherok Tokun relic was in a deplorable condition due to vandalism while the Buddhagupta relic was moved to the Lembah Bujang Museum in Kedah.

“In a written reply to my question on the ancient Buddhist temple, which was located around north Seberang Perai, it was believed to have existed since the 5th century AD or 6th century AD but the whereabouts of it was unknown,” he said.

He said 27 neolithic skeletons excavated from Guar Kepah back in the 1860s by archaeologists were now kept in Leiden, Netherlands and the board should attempt to bring these artefacts back to Penang.

He also hoped the board would focus more on Penang’s pre-colonial history and not only limit itself to the colonial and post-colonial history of the state.

Earlier, the legislative assembly approved the Poultry Farming (State of Penang) Bill 2020 that will regulate the operations of poultry farms in the state including the issuance of licences, the control of disposal of poultry waste and the transportation of poultry.

The Supply Bill 2021 was also approved unanimously by the state legislative assembly.

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