GEORGE TOWN, Jan 10 — Penang will be introducing a cultural religious campaign that kicks off in March to promote the cultural history of local communities and houses of worship.
Penang Harmony Corporation Sdn Bhd (Harmonico) will be leading the campaign to produce over 20 videos to showcase temples, churches, mosques and the communities living around it.
Harmonico manager Paul Au said the videos will tell the stories of the community in a chosen area and the various houses of worship in the area.
“The first video on the Streets of Harmony in George Town is expected to be released in March to kickstart this campaign,” he told reporters here today after visiting the 200-year-old Khye Sian Ong Temple with state executive councillors Chong Eng, Yeoh Soon Hin, Penang Global Tourism (PGT) chief executive officer Ooi Chok Yan and George Town World Heritage Incorporated general manager Ang Ming Chee.
Au said Harmonico is working with Think City to repackage the Streets of Harmony under the cultural religious campaign.
They are also working with other agencies such as PGT to promote the sites they showcased as a cultural heritage tourism site.
“We can create a niche market for visitors in future, similar to what Thailand is doing, in which they promote tours to their famous historical temples,” he said.
He said the campaign will focus on old temples, churches and some mosques and the stories of the local communities around it.
Using the Khye Sian Ong Temple in Jelutong as an example, Au said it has a history of over 200 years and there were other similarly interesting sites in Jelutong which includes a century-old Hindu temple.
He said the over 20 videos will capture different sites on both the island and the mainland.
Additionally, to encourage houses of worship to take part in this campaign, the state government will be allocating RM3,000 each to eligible houses of worship to participate in the campaign.
He said this will encourage them to document the history of their site and this could later be used to tell the story of the place.
According to Chong, who is also Social Development and Non-Islamic Religious Affair committee chairman, Penang has a lot of houses of worship that can be featured.
“Many people don’t know the history of the temples they go to so this campaign is important to record the history of these places,” she said.
She added that the campaign will also allow others to discover and learn about different religions and practices.
“This can create awareness and cultivate understanding and respect among people of different religions,” she said.
She said well documented places can become attractions to visitors.
Harmonico is government body incorporated under the Chief Minister’s Incorporated to implement and oversee matters pertaining to religions other than Islam.
The Khye Sian Ong Temple was built in 1820 on land that was gifted by a successful Malay businessman.
According to temple chairman Jansen Lim, the temple celebrated its 200 years anniversary in 2020 but they were unable to hold any celebration due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lim and the temple committee have also compiled facts and history of the temple and printed a bilingual book on the temple’s history.
“Our temple along with other sites around Jelutong will provide a good half-day tour site for visitors in future,” he said.