Proposal for the Conservation of Historic Burial sites and Memorials in Penang
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Proposal for the Conservation of Historic Burial sites and Memorials in Penang

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  • 2. WARISAN PERINGATAN – MEMORIAL HERITAGE -先人遗迹遗产 Neither Built nor Living Heritage ? Continuing existence and preservation of historic burial sites, tombs, memorials and monuments  to serve as a vital physical link to our past history Neglected area in conservation, no consistent and effective policies to safeguard the sites or structures 2
  • 3. NEGLECTS & DESTRUCTION The Smashed Tombs of Koh’s Family at Batu Lancang A case of tragic loss of Penang’s historical heritage 3
  • 4. KAPITAN KOH LAY HUAN @ CHEWAN 甲必丹辜禮歡 Koh Lay Huan was a wealthy and educated man who had earlier rebelled against the Manchus and fled to Siam and became a close ally of the Siam ruler of Nakhon Srithammarat, who married his daughter in 1821. He later moved to Kedah,. Shortly after Francis Light arrived in Penang in 1786, he brought from Kuala Muda, Kedah, several boatloads of Chinese and Malays to clear the land, inhabit, trade and generally develop the island. Koh presented Light with fishing nets at their inaugural meeting. He was a Kapitan Cina of Kedah & the 1st Kapitan Cina of Penang appointed by Francis Light. He died in 1826. He was a merchant, planter, tax farmer and one of the early Chinese community leaders in Penang. China St in George Town was established by him. He found a dynasty of Koh family, which has historical impact to not only Penang and Kedah, but also China (Ku Hung Ming辜鴻銘Secretary to the Viceroy Zhang Zhidong during the Ching Dynasty) & Taiwan (Koo Chen-fu辜振甫 – Chairman of the Straits Relations Council for China & Taiwan) The grand tomb of Kapitan Koh– the only remaining one but for how long ? 4
  • 5. SMASHED TOMBS OF KOH’S FAMILY Dato’ Koh Sin Hock Koh Teng Choon Koh Teng Khor with scattered bone remains Koh Leap Hup Koh Chan Boon- A total of 72 exhumations are recorded but MPPP only approved 23 5
  • 6. KOH SEANG TATT 辜尚達 Koh Seang Tatt(辜尚達, 1833-1908) Koh Seang Tatt, is the great grandson of first Capitan China of Penang, Koh Lay Huan( 甲必丹辜禮歡). Koh Seang Tatt was a successful merchant: (1) Operated Tye Sin Tat & Co with Foo Tye Sin (2) Tin mining and revenue farm concessions in Perak (3)Opium farm of Penang (4)In 1879, he become the first outsider to take over the opium and spirit farm of Singapore. He later formed the Penang Opium Syndicates,which controlled the opium trade in Malaya, Siam, Singapore, Sumatra, HongKong, Saigon and even in China. (5)The first Chinese to be appointed Justice of Peace(JP) in Penang (6) Together with Cheah Chen Eok, Dr W.C.Brown, Koh Seang Tat was among the first elected member of the Penang Municipal Commission in 1887. The land where the current Dewan Sri Pinang is located , was once Koh Seang Tatts mansion, Edinburgh Lodge(named after Duke of Edinburgh who visited Penang in 1869 and stayed there). The mansion is no longer there,but the mansion of his business partner,Foo Tye Sin is located at the same street(Light Street). The mansion is now occupied by Hong Leong Bank, at the corner of King Street/Light Street. In 1883, in conjunction with the building of Town Hall, he built a Municipal Fountain as a gift to British government. The fountain is still located at the garden beside the Town Hall. Balik Pulau Town Roundabout In 1882, Koh Seang Tatt (辜尚達, 1833-1908), built a monument at the roundabout to commensurate the visit of Sir Frederick Weld(Governor of Malacca) to Balik Pulau. The monument is a fountain, with two lion-head faucets at the base of the fountain. Villagers believed that as long as the water from the fountain, the village will prosper. The water was from the spring from the hill, its flow may indicated the level of ground water. destroyed tomb of Koh Seang Tatt – used to have a roofed pavilion with supporting granite pillars and poems of praise engraved 6
  • 7. KOH SEANG TEK 辜尚德 A road named after him in Penang Started an ice factory on Penang St. His son Dr. Koh Leap Teng辜立亭, the 2nd Chinese Queen Scholar from Penang and the 1st western-trained Chinese doctor to practice in Penangdestroyed tomb of Koh Seang Tek – the headstonecould have been saved & relocated elsewhere in amore dignified way during the exhumation 7
  • 8. NEGLECTS & DESTRUCTION The De-roofed Mausoleum of Kapitan Keling Mosque 8
  • 9. THE DE-ROOFED MAUSOLEUM OF KAPITAN KELING MOSQUE Recreating some Roman ruins in George Town ? Exposing the fragile indoor old floor tiles and pillars to the extremes of weather Conversion to an open-air mausoleum, any consultation to Muslim scholars and community stakeholders ? 9
  • 10. THE DE-ROOFED MAUSOLEUM OF KAPITAN KELING MOSQUE -New tall building surrounding the Mausoleum – unsympathetic architecture & colour scheme that mar the historical landscape - a supposedly public housing for inner city Muslim community turned into hotel operations 10
  • 11. NEGLECTS & DESTRUCTION The Derelict Old Catholic Cemetery (adjacent to Northam Rd Protestant Cemetery) 11
  • 12. OLD CATHOLIC CEMETERY- oldest Catholic cemetery in -A dozen of nationalitiesPenang, 1st burial in 1798 of a - early Chinese & TamilPortuguese descendant Catholic burial site> 200 tombs, pioneer educators - threaten by demolitionfrom Catholic nuns and brothers since 2004 12
  • 14. NEGLECTS & DESTRUCTION - MONUMENTS  Monuments become easy targets of vandalism  Lack of expertise in proper cleaning of monuments and open-air sculptures  Require routine checks and repairs on the structures  Non functioning water fountains and clock towers 14
  • 15. WHAT SHOULD WE DO ?1. Burial sites, memorial monuments, cenotaphs and any tombs over 50 years or of significant historical values should automatically come under the state’s legal protection.2. Systematic recording and listing of all historical sites, monuments and tombs in the state.3. Any conversion of land use from burial to other purposes must include public hearings for all stake holders ( neighbourhood residents within 1km radius, descendants, public interest groups, historians etc) to raise concerns and objections with sufficient timeline given.4. Any illegal alteration, destruction, removal or intentional neglect of the site or structure should be viewed as an act of vandalism to public property and be dealt with heavy penalties no less than those apply to the illegal demolition of buildings.5. Obligation of the Municipal Council to protect the structure and upkeep the cleanliness of the sites for public interest. In the event the site or structure is in private ownership, exercising the right to impose repair and maintenance fees on the owners if the latter fail to carry out their duties to do so.6. Incorporate existing burial sites as part of town planning for open space and green lung,7. Explore the opportunities to develop cultural historic heritage tourism on these sites / structures with sensitivity. Improvement on interpretative signage, access paths, landscaping, night lighting, police patrolling and electronic surveillance. 15
  • 16. LEST WE FORGET… Preventive Care & Proactive Actions Terima Kasih ! 16