GEORGE TOWN, Nov 11 — Federal rather than state authorities have the power to gazette heritage sites, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has said
“The federal government is the main authority to decide on whether a site is heritage or not and be able to control whether the landowner can evict existing residents or not,” he told a press conference today.
Lim said the state government’s powers is only limited to the restoration of heritage buildings and does not include the people living in heritage areas.
“This is why landowners can take court orders to evict the residents from any land but if the federal government was to gazette the land as a heritage area, they have the power to stop the landowner from evicting the residents,” he said.
On the delay in implementing the Penang Heritage Act, Lim admitted that things were not “moving along” previously.
“I regret to say that before this, it was not moving but now with a new legal advisor, things are moving again to draft out subsidiary legislation dealing mainly with rules and regulations to implement the enactment,” he said.
He said a heritage commissioner was already appointed, but all that is needed are the rules and regulation for proper control and enforcement of the act.
“What we have now are informal controls and even when the act is implemented, we must remember that we will still depend on local councils to enforce it,” he said.
This morning, Muhammad Farid Saad (BN-Pulau Betong) in his debate of the Supply Bill, demanded to know why the enactment was not implemented despite it being passed in 2011.
He pressed on the importance of implementing the act to protect George Town’s world heritage status.