By Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary –General and MP for Tanjung , Lim Kit Siang , in Penang on Friday, January 14, 1993;
Gim Hwa should explain whether the effect of placing Hotel Metropole on Category 2 of conservation buildings means that Hotel Metropole could be demolished so long as the facade is preserved.
The disclosure on Wednesday by MPPP councilor, Dr. Goh Ban Lee that the MPPP on October 28 , 1994 had reclassified the heritage buildings along Jalan Sultan HAmad Shah into category Penang Public knew about the decision.
I understand that this decision had been taken by the MPPP unilaterally and arbitrarily , without consultation with the Penang Heritage Trust , house – owners , architects , developers or other bodies concerned about conservation of historical buildings.
If not for the furore over the scandalous and outrageous demolition of Hotel Metropole in a ‘lighting operation ‘ on Christmas Day , the re classification of Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah heritage buidlins and the removal of five of them from the previous MPPP list of category one into Category two would have remained a secret!
This attempt in the last three months to keep the MPPP decision a secrat is the action of a concuil which know that what it had done was improper, unjustifiable and even wrong and not the action of a council which has nothing to hide and is prepared to abide by the democratic principles of accountability and transparency.
Can Tan Gim Hwa explain why Hotel Metropole was removed from category one of consercation buildings , which prohibit the heritage building from any demolition , akteration or even extension , and placed on Category Two , which permitted redeveploment provided the façade of the building is preserved.
Does this mean that by taking Hotal Metropole out of Category One and placing it in Category Two , Hotel Metropole could be demolished so long as its facade is preserved ?
A full clarification of the effect of Category Two heritage buildings along Jalan Ahmad Shah is called for as . Dr Goh Ban Lee said that fibe buildings had been placed under Category 2 , namely Hotel Metropole , Shih Chung Primary School and buildings NO .48 , 36 and 25.
It was reported that Shih Chung Primary School was recently sold to Malaysia Vegetable Oil Refinery Sdn Bhd at RM 9.5 million.
Has the sale of Hotel Metropile and shih chung Primary scjool , both of which had been among the 1989 MPPP list of 26 heritage buildings along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah , any connection with the MPPP decision on Oct , 28 to take them out from Category One and put them in Category two?
It is interesting to look into the historical background of the four heritage buildings apart from Hotel Metropole which had placed in Category Two:
Shih Chung Primary School
No .11 Jalan Sultan Ahmad shah ( Lot 488)
Built before 1893 , it was the first four storey private residence in Penang . It was originally the residence of Cheah Tek Soon, a prominent 19th century figure after whom Tek Soon street was named.
The Building is better known as “ Raffles – By – the sea “ the hotel that boased excellent services in the early part of 1990.
It is a unique example of ‘sino –Malay –colonial’ architecture , and described as having “ great historical and artistic value” by a 1988 MPPP survey of historical buildings in Goerge Town.
No .48 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah
A double storey bungalow around 1913 and described by the 1989 MPPP survey as of “great artistic value “ and is of important historical value”
No 36, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah
A double storey villa with an attic floor built around 1930 and described bythe 1988 MPPP survery as “ important for the development of architectural history , and contributes towards streetscape valur”.
No . 25 ,Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah
A double –storey single detached building , built around 1910 in colonial style but with Malay influence . The 1988 MPPP survey described it as “important in its role as a government institution .”
The people of penang are entitled to know the criteria and rationable in the categorization of heritage buildings , as well as their removal from category one to category two and why no public hearings were held to involve public participation.