Media Statement by Chow Kon Yeow, Penang State Executive Councillor for Local Government and Traffic Management at the conclusion of the Local Government Consultative Forum on Monday, 11 April 2011 at the Kompleks Masyarakat Penyayang, Penang.
1. Swiftlet farm operators and MCA leaders have raised three issues at a demonstration staged at Komtar walk, on Friday 8 April 2011.
2. Issue No.1 –Accused the Penang State Government for trying to kill off this lucrative industry by removing swiftlet premises from the World Heritage Site of Geoege Town!
3. Issue No.2 –“Heritage” in whatever forms are still “dead things”, only people have lives!
4. Issue No.3 –Mulu National Park and George Town are both heritage sites, why swiftlet activity are allowed in Mulu and not George Town!
5. The Penang State Government is not trying to kill off swiftlet farming. We want swiftlet farm investors to continue this lucrative business at appropriate zones approved for such activities.
6. Swiftlet farm investors would see their investments secured and sustainable over a long term if it is carried out at approved zones.
7. Swiftlet farm investors should not risk their investment by putting up swiftlet farms in unapproved zones as they would have to face enforcement action for failing to get the required planning and building approval from the local councils.
8. Swiftlet farm investors should revise their investment strategy in line with the Federal Government’s decision to stop swiftlet farming in the World Heritage Sites of Melaka and George Town and also the adoption of the National Guideline for Swiftlet Farming.
9. By lobbying intensively against the decision to stop swiftlet farming in George Town World Heritage Site, swiftlet farm investors are expecting the wider interests of the State and people to be sacrificed so that their narrow interests can be protected.
10. By asserting that “heritage in whatever forms are still lifeless dead things”, exposed their lack of understanding and appreciation of George Town World Heritage Site.
11. They are just equating heritage with artefacts, monuments or even antique pieces meant for decoration purposes at home.
12. George Town World Heritage Site is not about lifeless artefacts, monuments or antique pieces. George Town was inscribed as World Heritage Site because of the outstanding universal values of a living heritage. “Melaka and George Town are living testimony to the multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, where the greatest religions, and cultures met. The coexistence of distinct faiths - both tangible and intangible - in particular the different religious buildings, is a testament to the religious pluralism of Asia.”
13. Swiftlet farm investors should realize that if George Town is taken over by birdhouse, this city would be turned not only into a bird city but a ghost city, which threaten not only the World Heritage Site status but also George Town as the capital city of the State of Penang. In short the future of George Town is at stake!
14. Who would allowed the future of George Town to be compromised?
15. The other assertion is made because of sheer ignorance. Mulu National Park is a natural heritage while George Town is a living heritage. Swiftlet belongs to the natural realm. Just because swiftlet activities are found in Mulu National Park, a natural heritage site, does not mean it should be allowed in the living heritage site of George Town.