A meeting will be held next week between the state Heritage Steering Committee and developers of four proposed high-rise hotels in the heritage enclave. The meeting will look into measures to prevent the city from losing its listing as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
This is a correct move. The state government and the four developers should work out a compromise to ensure the interest of more than 2 million people in Penang is protected.
Two of the hotel projects, AGB's Rice Miller boutique hotel in Weld Quay and the Boustead Royale Bintang Hotel, behind the General Post Office in Lebuh Downing, are in the heritage core zone.
The other two are E&O Hotel's 16-storey block and Low Yat Group's 23-storey development in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. Both of them are in the buffer zone.
Political Blame Game:
The Former chairman of the preparatory committee for the listing, Teng Chang Yeow, had said that the Rice Miller boutique hotel, Bousted Royal Bintang Hotel and E&O Hotel's extension were approved with Unesco's knowledge.
On Monday, state Gerakan chairman Teng Hock Nan took a swipe at the state government for approving Low Yat Group's project. He had said the approval, which was given shortly before the Unesco listing, could jeopardise the heritage listing.
Teng Hock Nan should take a hint from his own ineptness for allowing MPSP's financial situation to deteriorate since 2001 before appointing an auditor to conduct a check on late 2007.
Teng Hock Nan should note that this is not the time for political blame game and finger pointing. His party was involved in 3 of the 4 projects. Gerakan should drop partisanship and assist in the negotiation with the four developers.
I propose the inclusion of Teng Chang Yeow in the discussion to help build a consensus on how to prevent Penang's WHS from being jeopardized.
It makes more commercial sense for these developers to ensure Penang keeps its WHS. The state government must act swiftly to stop unscrupulous forces from turning this issue into a political one.
Read my views here.