Penang Views and News

21 Nov

Of George Town’s Unesco World Heritage Status

By now, we all know that George Town is at risk of losing its Unesco World Heritage Status due to the approval of four high rise projects (all hotels). As LGE has revealed, 3 were approved before his time and one was by his state administration.

Of course, as is usual with this new state government, LGE simply has to point the fingers and blame the previous state government for approving the first three projects. After he is done blaming (while cleverly diverting the attention from the one project that was approved a mere 10 days before the Unesco inscription), then he lists out three ways to solve it.

I find the first option very laughable.

The state government hopes the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry will help it cover the cost of compensation if it were to cancel the planning permission given to four high-rise hotels within the George Town heritage zone.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today that in the worst case scenario, if the state government had to cancel the planning permission to preserve George Town’s Unesco World Heritage status, it would need to pay compensation to the developers.

“We hope the ministry can help us cover the cost of the compensation,” he told a press conference.

The Sun

LOL. As if the ministry is going to help. Has he forgotten that the BN government will DO ANYTHING to make sure Penang falls? This is just so that they could say this to Penangites,

“See? We told you to vote for us but you chose those incompetent idiots instead so this is what you get lah for choosing the Opposition”

Now, jokes aside, I wonder why the fourth project, a Bintang Holdings project in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah was approved a mere 10 days before the Unesco inscription?

Of course, LGE can claim that he didn’t know and wasn’t aware but really. The draft guidelines where buildings are not supposed to exceed 5 storeys within George Town have been in place for years. The council has it for years but ‘it was not implemented yet’. This means, the council knows very well about this guidelines.

And I have it on good authority (thanks to a little bird who works in the council) that the Bintang Holdings project has applied for planning permission A LOT OF TIMES. NINE years to be exact. And each time, it was rejected because it was a high rise project.

Then, recently, they tried their luck again and wonders of wonders. It was approved. A mere 10 days before the inscription.

A coincidence?

You tell me.

As for the state government’s predicament now that the damage has already been done, this is what PHT has to say:

Penang Heritage Trust president Dr Choong Sim Poey said the state is legally obligated to enforce the Unesco requirements, which supercede relevant local government legislations.

“Unesco’s Convention on World Heritage Sites (1972) spells out legally-binding obligations on country signatories, without which a site cannot apply for listing,” he said.

The Sun

Well, sounds like to me, either way the state government is screwed. Cancel the planning permissions, they get sued. Don’t cancel, George Town get de-listed.

But still, if the state is legally obligated to enforce the Unesco requirements and that it SUPERCEDES the relevant local government legislations, there is a way out after all.

Will they do it?

*shrugs*

And the worst part of all this fiasco is that the Heritage portfolio belonged to the wonderful, exceptional, competent exco Danny Law. Need I say more?

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