GEORGE TOWN, Nov 20 — Penang Opposition Leader Muhamad Fauzi Yusoff today accused the DAP-led state government of sidelining Malay Islam heritage to prioritise colonial heritage.
He said it was as if the state is proud of its British colonialism past, adding that there did not seem to be any effort to correct the fact that Malay Muslims arrived in Penang long before Francis Light of the English East India Company did.
“The Malay Muslim village in Batu Uban existed at least 50 years before the arrival of Francis Light,” Muhamad Fauzi, the Sungai Dua assemblyman from PAS said in his speech at the state legislative assembly here.
He cited the existence of Batu Uban mosque built in 1734 by one “Nakhoda Nan Intan” also known as “Haji Muhammad Saleh”, as historical proof.
“Sadly, the oldest mosque in Penang was not gazetted as a heritage building,” he added.
According to Muhamad Fauzi, there were many other mosques before that, but there were no tangible records that could show that except for historical accounts of an Islamic preacher who was named as “Datok Keramat” said to have been living in Penang 30 years prior to “Nakhoda Nan Intan”.
“I would like to propose that the state government turn the Batu Uban area surrounding the mosque as a heritage site and to gazette the mosque as a heritage building,” Muhamad Fauzi said.
He said the mosque is the most important heritage building in the state that proved the early existence of Muslim communities in Penang.
He said similarly, the remaining Malay villages in the state should also be protected.
“Don’t destroy these villages in the name of development and do not assume that there is no value in preserving these villages,” he said.
He hoped that the local plan will not ignore this aspect of the Malay Muslim heritage.
Muhamad Fauzi also raised the issue of the impact of Penang Silicon Island.
He asked if the project was to fund the Penang Transport Master Plan or is now an economic project for the state.
“Which is correct? Is the implementation of this project not well thought out? Or is the direction of project unclear?"he asked.
He asked if the implementation of the project will not lead to a loss in food source and affect food security.
He said the project will also lead to loss of income for fishermen in the area, a majority of whom are Malays.
"Previously, the catch from the aquaculture area provided substantial income, benefiting local entrepreneurs and supporting the livelihoods of fishermen in Northern Perak and Kedah,” he said.
He pointed out that the impact of the reclamation in Tanjong Tokong previously had resulted in 80 per cent loss of marine resources in the area, negatively affecting fishermen there.
“Have the fate of the fishermen in Tanjong Tokong not provided sufficient lessons on the impact of such projects on them?” he asked.
He also said the Fisheries Impact Assessment had also confirmed his concerns over the negative impact of the project.