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 Sustainable Cultural Practices

Report of a conference held in George Town 8-9 October 2009


Sustainable cultural practices were discussed from many angles on the two day conference. On the second day (9th October 2009), the two countries in Asia with the most UNESCO Heritage Monuments and Sites (India and China) presented some of their experience in handling related issues.

senoritas at the Penang Heritage Conference
Happy senoritas of Vigan City
(photo from the pdf file of the Power Point presentation.)

Later, a very dynamic mayor of Vigan City of the Philippines wheeled out an extensive report how the city managed to transform their drab city into a World Heritage Site with actions taken in every possible way. It was a holistic approach and the results were really amazing. The people of Vigan city now are happy to receive so much recognition from other communities and enjoying a sense of pride and belonging to them.

Lastly, Verena Ong from Sydney described in detail about how heritage guidelines and incentive scheme worked in Sydney.  

loke mansion Penang
Loke Mansion

After lunch, a short walk from the hotel brought us to a nice house (Loke Mansion) in danger of big damages which might be due to the construction of high rise buildings in the surrounding area.

The current tenant, Rebecca Duckett Wilkinson gave a brief history about the house and how frightening damages had been observed resulting in cracks in the building, uneven lawn surface as well as lifted tiles.

It was an amazing old house and it would be very sad indeed if the damages were irreversible over time.

After the site visit, we were all broken into four different groups with specialized topics: Business Co-operation, Governance, Information and Marketing Communications and finally Creative environment. All topics related very much to sustainable cultural practices.

Each group had a facilitator to guide the members on their chosen topic.

At the end of the discussion, important points were listed out to be heard by the rest of the participants as we grouped back to the main hall.

Later, the summary of the conference was done by Puan Maimunah Mohd Sharif of World Heritage Office George Town. Dr. Tim Curtis also later took to the podium to conclude the conference.

The best part of the two day programs had to be the award giving ceremony and also a dinner reception at Suffolk House. The Chief Minister, Mr. Lim Guan Eng again graced the occasion to receive a UNESCO Award of Distinction on behalf of Suffolk House from Dr. Tim Curtis.

award giving ceremony at Penang Heritage ConferenceI was happy to be part of the guests on this special ceremony. It was a chance to observe Suffolk House  intimately to see the grandeur of colonial past with my own eyes.

The house was rebuilt with a cost of RM6 million, with RM2 million funded by HSBC Bank, RM2 million by the state government and the rest by public donation.

This house which looked so simple from the outside had really spacious interior and high ceiling with its trademark tapered Tuscan columns. It was practically in ruin and was restored based on archaeological excavation and also from period paintings done at that time.

After 200 years since it was built and suffering many years of neglect, Suffolk House now stands proud among other government buildings in that area.

Hence, it was such a perfect ending to the two day conference that the award ceremony was held here.

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Day 1 of the Penang Heritage Conference

Report of the first day of the Penang Heritage Conference with exciting speakers, heritage visits and local amusement

Day 1 of the Penang Heritage Conference




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