The Unesco letter was to save George Town heritage status – Penang Forum


(Malaysia Outlook) – Penang Forum’s letter to Unseco Paris Desk raising concerns on the proposed multi-billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) was to save, not to delist, George Town’s world heritage status.

Penang Forum warned that the proposed light rail transit and monorail projects under PTMP bordering the George Town heritage zone, not its letter to Unesco, can potentially cause the city and Malacca to lose their joint heritage status.

Both George Town and Malacca got the joint world heritage status in mid-2008.

“The objective of this action (letter), far from risking George Town’s heritage status being taken away, was in fact to avoid the possibility of such an action,” said Penang Forum, a coalition of mostly pro-DAP non-government organisations (NGOs).

Penang Forum claimed that it had no choice but to bring up the issue to attention of Unesco after concerns raised by the NGOs on the danger posed by PTMP to George Town’s heritage status had fallen to deaf ears of relevant authorities.

It said the NGOs for many months had highlighted potential risks posed by PTMP to George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI), the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) and the Penang government.

“But no action has been taken to ensure current planning poses no risks to our heritage site.

“NGO concerns have been dismissed and the potential impact to our historical city has been ignored,” said Penang Forum.

“The purpose of Penang Forum’s letter to Unesco is to seek its help to take proactive steps to protect – not to delist – the site before it is too late.”

In the letter, Penang Forum had requested Unesco to send an advisory mission to conduct an impact assessment of the proposed transport project plan.

The Penang Forum statement issued by its steering committee highlighted that the Operational Guidelines (Clause 172) of the World Heritage Convention clearly stated that:

“The World Heritage Committee invites the State Parties to the Convention to inform the Committee, through the Secretariat, of their intention to undertake or to authorise in an area protected under the Convention major restorations or new constructions which may affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.”