After six years of detailed study and meticulous planning, the Federation of Hakka Associations of Malaysia’s dream to build a Hakka Village in Balik Pulau, will soon come true.
Its deputy president Datuk Dr Cheah See Kian said the village was set to be the first of its kind in Malaysia and second in the world after that in China.
He said its groundbreaking would take place on a 8.09ha land near Jalan Kuala Sungai Pinang.
“After many discussions, we think that the Hakka clan is rather universal. It is a collective cultural heritage that most people can develop and promote.
“That is why we decided on the theme ‘Hakka Village’ for the new tourist attraction-cum-ecological spot to match the multifarious elements and social needs of Balik Pulau.
“We are very grateful to the Penang Government for approving this development project within a short span of six months.
“We are now in the process of submitting detailed drawings to the authorities and the project’s construction is expected to start by year end,” he said during the Penang Khek Association’s 74th anniversary celebration dinner at the Han Chiang High School on Sunday.
Dr Cheah said the village would also see the construction of a modern hotel designed according to the conventional earthen building which was a prominent feature of the Hakka culture.
He said: “The round-shaped building will also house the Balik Pulau cultural museum and art gallery for trilingual exhibitions.”
In his speech, Dr Cheah, who is also the Balik Pulau Hakka Village Committee chief planner, thanked the various entrepreneurs and consortiums who had financially contributed towards the entire project costing more than RM20mil.
“Despite being an enterprise investment project, we are ready to create a vital and cultural attraction to draw tourists from around the world to the area.
“The project will also involve a collaboration with a Taiwan university’s College of Hakka Studies to establish a Hakka cultural base as a resource centre for academicians,” he added.
Other features of the Hakka Village would be a restaurant selling Hakka food, a hawker centre selling local delicacies and souvenirs as well as a bicycle track and man-made lake for recreational purposes, he said.
“We have also preserved a durian farm where nutmeg, clove and rubber are also planted to showcase Balik Pulau’s natural heritage.
“The setting up of such a village which will take up to five years to complete will commemorate the Hakka community’s contributions and the role it has played in Penang’s history for over 150 years.
“A fieldwork and research in Balik Pulau by some Taiwanese Hakka scholars showed that Balik Pulau is indeed a settlement area for the early Hakka clan.
“The Hakka dialect is widely used to such an extent that the catholic church in Balik Pulau used it to recite the Bible verses in the early days,” he said. - By The Star