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Penang Should Set Up Special Fund For Heritage Conservation, Says Rep

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GEORGE TOWN (Nov 17): A DAP assemblyman says the state government should set up a World Heritage Site Fund to restore and preserve heritage sites in the Unesco city of Georgetown.

Komtar assemblyman Teh Lai Heng said the state should not just wait for funds from the federal government or its agencies to restore and conserve the city’s heritage sites but should set up its own fund with RM10 million.

He told the Penang legislative assembly last night that the cost to renovate and conserve a heritage building could be three times more expensive than having work done on a normal building, so many heritage property owners would not have the means to do it, especially if they were not running a business.

“Funds for this purpose can come from the state, the local authorities or both. I also propose that some of the fees collected by the local councils from hotel stays be channelled into this fund.

“I also suggest that the fund be administrated by GTWHI (George Town World Heritage Incorporated),” he said in his speech to debate the Penang 2016 budget in the assembly last night.

Meanwhile, Teh also proposed that the council-run parking system on Penang island and the one on the mainland, which was run by the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) respectively, be standardised to avoid confusion among the public.

He said this had been the practice of the Malacca City Council and the Hang Tuah Jaya Municipal Council in Malacca, where the public uses the same type of parking coupons in the two areas.

“Right now, people in Penang have to get the different coupons bearing the different council logos, and some of them are confused. This has led to a number of people getting fined by the local authorities.

“Standardising the parking system to cover both the island and the mainland will avoid confusing the people and reducing complaints.

“I also propose that the electronic payment device for council parking be introduced by both councils in their respective enforcement areas,” he said.

Currently both councils have different parking coupons, rates and hours. Members of the public have to buy parking coupons from the respective councils if they use council-owned parking lots. The rate on the mainland is cheaper.

Teh also said the people should also be able to pay their fines at both councils, regardless of where the summonses were issued, for their convenience.

He also proposed to the local councils to allow operators of guesthouses or hotels in town to pay their parking contributions in instalments.

Local authorities in Penang require hotel operators to provide one car parking lot for every 125 sq m of floor space in their premises. For every car park provided, the operators must also set aside one parking space for a motorcycle.

Failure to provide the parking spaces will require the operator to pay the council a contribution of RM25,000 per car park, and RM2,500 per motorcycle parking lot.

“The amount operators have to pay may be huge so it would be better to allow them to pay in monthly instalments over a period of three years while they operate their business with a temporary permit,” he said.

DAP backbenchers RSN Rayer (Seri Delima) and Soon Lip Chee (Jawi) also raised issues about people “reserving” council parking lots in front of their premises for their own private use.

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