Speech At Launching Ceremony for George Town Heritage Celebrations 2016. (e/c)

Speech by Mr. Lim Guan Eng, The Chief Minister of Penang in Launching Ceremony for George Town Heritage Celebrations 2016 , 7 July 2016, Armenian Park, George Town

A very good morning to all of you and welcome to the Launching Ceremony for George Town Heritage Celebrations 2016.

I would like to commend George Town World Heritage Incorporated and the working team of George Town Heritage Celebrations 2016 for putting this together with the 11 existing and 9 new partners from the local communities. Their contributions and participation in this annual affair is integral towards its success by giving us the opportunity to showcase the diverse culture and heritage of George Town.

I also wish to thank the City Council of Penang Island, Penang Global Tourism, Malaysian National Commission for UNESCO, and George Town Festival; for extending their assistance in one way or another towards this celebration.

On 7 July 2008, we were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with Melaka based on three Outstanding Universal Values – each of which defines the historical significance of both the tangible and intangible heritage found in the city. Our unique architectural and cultural townscape is unparalleled anywhere in East and Southeast Asia – as pronounced by UNESCO – but my personal belief is that the true gem of George Town is our living heritage, and the ability of different faiths and cultures to co-exist in harmony and to respect one another mutually.

This celebration of diversity is the basis of the basis of George Town Heritage Celebrations. The Penang State Government, together with the communities living here, would like to keep this alive, year in and year out. We are committed to preserve and retain our heritage – tangible and intangible – because by understanding our past, we can be better connected to the present so as to face the challenges of the future.

Just last month, the Penang State Government announced a RM10 million plan to rehabilitate and transform a row of dilapidated buildings along Victoria Street into a centre for traditional trades and creative workspace to nurture the talents of both the past and the future under one roof. The traditional trades reflect the once bustling hive of George Town as a commercial hub and a significant port of call in this region, and we would like to recognise this by creating a space for the trades to continue their stories, and to inspire future talents which will create a new dimension for these trades.

The state government is also proposing legislation to reinstitute a version of rent control or restriction of pre-war shophouses within the George Town Heritage site to prevent gentrification such that original inhabitants are not driven out by high rents. Whilst we respect property owners’ rights, owners of such heritage pre-war shophouses within the heritage enclave have a special responsibility to ensure the living heritage can continue to exist.

The state government will have full public consultation and feedback before implementing these proposals. We are however mindful of our existing legal authority and jurisdiction. Whilst rent restriction is a state power under Schedule 9 of the Federal Constitution, the Federal government had invoked Article 76(4) to abolish Rent Control Act in 1997 to ensure uniformity of laws in Malaysia. In the nineties, all states including Penang, had assented and surrendered their powers to the Federal government to abolish rent restriction and led market forces decide. Whilst we sort out the legal intricacies whether the state has legal authority to do so now after vacating our powers then or whether we need to petititon to the Federal government to act on our behalf, there is a need for a prior consensus as much as we can possibly arrive at amongst all stakeholders. YB Chow Kon Yeow will handle the public consultation and feedback whilst YB Jagdeep Singh Deo will handle the legal issues.

On top of this, the proposed Penang Arts District to a much bigger space in Ghat Leboh Nordin to accommodate the ever-growing arts community in Penang – and to position us as a hub for the arts, culture and heritage in this country. We hope that the nearly RM50 million investment required can also be sourced from the private sector.

Further we are proud of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has evaluated George Town as significant and worthy to be considered a partner through a Memorandum of Understanding with us to assist Penang to preserve, protect and promote George Town. The memorandum serves as an acknowledgement and endorsement by AKTC – an acclaimed international body – towards the potential of Penang, as well as the unique Outstanding Universal Values of George Town World Heritage Site.

The RM27 billion Penang Transport Master Plan will be another breakthrough in our sustainable development of an efficient and effective network of public transportation – connecting both people and places together so as to create a liveable city with high quality of life. Each of these plans by us is developed with the community in mind, because they make the city and inject the spaces with life and purpose. It is also for this reason that we would like to celebrate the communities and their cultures – and to appreciate the things that define them – one such as simple as games and sports.

UNESCO recognises the significance of traditional sports and games as an opportunity for the community to demonstrate its interpretation of life and the world, and that they are a priceless part of humanity’s cultural heritage. They serve as constant reminder to us that our practices, whether contemporary or traditional, leisure or labour, even routine or irregular, remain strongly rooted in our valuable traditions – and that they function as foundations for us to build the future together.

Today marks the 8th Anniversary of George Town’s inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the same time, it is the second day of Hari Raya for our Muslim friends – and I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyoneSelamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin. Tomorrow is a replacement holiday for Heritage Day and Saturday the 9th is the birthday of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Pulau Pinang – a long weekend holiday for all of us, and George Town Heritage Celebrations 2016 is set to present a line-up of activities which will keep everyone both entertained and educated.

On behalf of George Town World Heritage Incorporated and its event supporters, I would like to invite and welcome everyone to the celebrations this year, and may it be one of the best we have ever seen yet. Remember as custodians of UNESCO George Town World Heritage Site we have a special responsibility not only to Penang and Malaysia but also to all humanity.

Thank you.

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槟城州首席部长林冠英于2016年7月7日在乔治市打铜仔街公园欢庆乔治市日的演讲:

我在此要感谢来自本地社区的原有11个参与伙伴及新加入的9个参与伙伴,感谢他们拨冗时间与资源参与这项盛事。他们的贡献与参与这年度盛事,给予我们机会将乔治市多元文化及古迹展示在世人眼前。

2008年7月7日,我们与马六甲一起被列入世界文化遗产,根据联合国世界教科文组织所述,我们之所以入选是基于三项杰出的普世价值- 每一项都代表着其历史的重要性,城中的物质与非物质文化遗产,我们城中的建筑及其城市文化外观在东亚及东南亚皆绝无仅有。但我个人相信我们乔治市真正的珍珠乃是我们的活古迹及其当中不同信仰及文化能和谐共存互相尊重。

乔治市古迹日节庆要欢庆的最基本的要素那就是我们的多元,州政府在与当地社区合作下要年年保持一切生气勃勃。我们承诺要维护及保留我们的古迹,因为我们记得要理解我们的过去,联系我们的现在,以便能成功的面对未来的挑战。

槟城州政府才于上个月宣布了一项将海墘新路已荒废建筑翻新改造成传统贸易与创意手工的1000万另及改造计画。传统贸易重新提醒乔治市曾经是区域商业中心及重要港口,因此我们要创造一个空间,让这些贸易能延续他们的故事,也希望能启发新一代能提空这些传统产业新的面向。

州政府也建议立法在乔治市战前屋区域重启屋租统制或防止乔治市战前古迹内的战前屋被高档化,避免原生户因为高租金而迁出。然而,我们也尊重产业佣有者的权力,这些战前屋的屋主有特别的义务及责任确保这些活古迹继续存在。

州政府在执行这项建议之前将会先咨询公众及寻求回馈。无论如何我们现在正在研究现有的权责与法律归属。虽然原有的屋租统制在联邦宪法第九条内有列名是州的权力,但联邦政府于1997年修该了第76(4)条法令,取消屋租统制法令以确保法律上全马一致。在当时的90年代,全国州属包括槟城都已经将此权力交给中央,取消掉屋租统制法,让市场自行决定价格。我们发现现在存有法律争议就是在我么交出权力之后,我们是否还有权力执行屋租统制,或我们必须向联邦政府提出动议以代我们执行,这需要得到各造的共识。在推动这件政策上,曹观友行政议员将执行公众咨询及回馈的任务,佳日星行政议员则负责法律事务。

除此之外,我们也将会在红灯角的港仔尾旧址的地段建议兴建槟城艺术区,让艺术群体进驻,让槟城成为全国艺术、文化与古迹的中心。我们希望这项5000万令吉的计画能获得私人借投资。

我们也对能获得世界著名的Aga Khan文化基金将乔治市评估为重要及值得合作的伙伴感到骄傲,透过双方签属备忘录,该基金将协助槟城维护、保护及提倡乔治市的古迹。

还有270亿令吉的槟城交通大蓝图将会是我们在公共交通上永续发展的突围计画,这项计画将连接人与地,创造一个宜居高质生活的都市空间。各项发展的策划都考量的社区,因为社区是让都市空间注入活力的原素。这也就是为何要与社区与当地文化共欢庆,珍惜他们的社区文化,如这些简单的游戏与运动。

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