The Penang government has failed in its promise to preserve the state’s heritage buildings, said Penang Gerakan secretary Oh Tong Keong.
“The state government promised to protect and preserve the heritage buildings in the state but they are being demolished one after another.
“The Soonstead Mansion in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah is said to be the next demolition target for a 13-storey hotel project.
“It is nothing new as several other such buildings have been demolished to make way for development such as No. 218 in Macalister Road which was demolished last year.
“Khaw Sim Bee mansion in Pykett Avenue was torn down without the Penang Island City Council’s (MBPP) permission a few years ago,” he said in a statement on Monday.
Oh said state Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow had promised that the 104-year-old mansion at 218, Macalister Road, would be preserved, but it was demolished.
The developer only paid RM3mil in lieu of reconstructing the building at its original site.
Oh also inquired whether MBPP received the new development plan on the Soonstead Mansion site as Chow had said on Sept 4 that the project architect was in the midst of preparing a new plan.
“If the council has the plan, I hope it will reveal it to the public.
“We do not want to see another heritage building torn down and hope that the state government will preserve buildings that are more than a century old.”
Responding to a statement made by MBPP on June 11, Oh said he was confused as to why words like ‘disassemble’, ‘reassemble’, ‘dismantle’ and ‘reconstruct’ were used by the MBPP in the No. 218 Macalister Road issue.
“Is MBPP intending to confuse the people with these words? I also wonder why the state government is avoiding the many questions posed to them regarding heritage buildings.
“Is this how the state government follows the Competency, Accounta-bility and Transparency (CAT) policy, which I think is dead,” he said.
Chow said an application to restore Soonstead Mansion (pic) has been submitted to the council together with the planning permission for the 13-storey hotel project in February.
He stressed that the project had not been approved, adding that a hearing with the area’s residents on the proposed project was held earlier this month.
“Soonstead will be left untouched and the developer has been instructed to ensure that the design of the hotel complements the mansion’s design so as not to affect its aesthetics.
“The proposed project is a one-block hotel with three levels of car park and 97 rooms,” he said. - By The Star