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Heritage Dept: Transport Plans For Sia Boey Can Affect George Town Unesco Status

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GEORGE TOWN: The Department of National Heritage has confirmed that Sia Boey, the area at which the state government planned to build a transportation hub, was too near the buffer zone and could harm George Town’s Unesco status.

In a statement on Wednesday, the department said building structures were found in the vicinity of Sia Boey and it believed the findings would strengthen the history of George Town as a trading port.

“It is important the site is protected before any development plan takes place and currently, excavation work is still being conducted to confirm its significance to George Town history,” it said.

The excavation process is still being conducted by the Universiti Sains Malaysia archaeological team which expects to table its findings November.

The department will also send a team of archaeologists to assist the USM team in connecting the dots on the artefacts found to find new evidence relating to it.

The heritage department also plans to place the site under the National Heritage Act 2005 for protection purposes upon completion of archaeological work.

Earlier, the Penang Forum had requested the state government not to give the green light to the construction of Light Rail Transit (LRT) at the heritage borders as it involved the George Town heritage outstanding universal values until 2018, where Unesco was expected to conduct an assessment.

Penang Forum spokesman, Khoo Salma, stressed the forum would not want the state government to make a blunder by building the transportation hub in Sia Boey, only to find out later the project endangered the heritage site.

“We felt duty-bound to invite Unesco to undertake the inspection and heritage assessment as we are concerned the construction will cause George Town to lose its heritage status,” she told a press conference.

Recently, Penang Forum and other civil groups, including Penang Heritage Trust was under fire from Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng as he claimed the LRT project would not affect the heritage enclave as it was outside the UNESCO area. – Bernama


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