Speech by Chief Minister of Penang
At The Launching of Fort Cornwallis Young Archaeologists' Programme
on 26 August 2017
On behalf of the Penang State Government, I would like to welcome all of you to the official launch of the Fort Cornwallis Young Archaeologists’ Programme.
This programme is organised by the George Town Conservation and Development Corporation (GTCDC), with support from Universiti Sains Malaysia. It is part of the Penang Museum and Gallery Network (MAGNET), which aims to promote public participation in arts, heritage and culture.
During its pilot sessions along, the Young Archaeologists’ Programme has attracted a diverse group of participants, some coming with their parents, and others registering through their schools. They range from SMK Hutchings, which is just five minutes’ walk away from the fort, to MRSM Merbok who joined us all the way from Kedah.
We look forward to receiving more participants from schools, parents and relevant organisations as we continue to build interest and awareness in heritage among youngsters. This project embodies the state government’s commitment to promote cultural stewardship and a bottom-up approach in heritage,
It is without doubt that the long-term conservation of the George Town World Heritage Site is dependent upon our future generations. Fostering these future stewards of our cultural resources is critical to the long-term sustainability of Penang’s heritage, especially imbuing them with the idea that “doing less is more”.
Under the MAGNET initiative, GTCDC is also working on a new museograhic concept for the Penang State Museum building at Farquhar Street, a community archives programme, and the conservation of the Syed al-Attas Mansion. All of these initiatives aim to enhance the physical cultural facilities enhance residual intelligence and experience as well as provide opportunities for community involvement.
Penang itself is indeed rich in archaeological heritage – earlier this year, a 5,600-year-old skeleton was discovered at the prehistoric site of Guar Kepah in Seberang Perai. We look forward to promoting public archaeology into a state-wide initiative and invite communities to play an active part in the interpretation and preservation of cultural heritage.
The Young Archaeologists’ Programme is part of the ongoing excavation to uncover the moat structure that originally surrounded the fort. The reinstatement of the moat is recommended by the Fort Cornwallis Conservation Management Plan, as an effort to restore Fort Cornwallis to its period of highest significance. Conservation works on structures within the fort is also set to begin in September.
Apart from restoring the authenticity of Fort Cornwallis, the reinstatement of the moat feeds into a larger effort to revitalise cultural spaces and facilities in the North Seafront of George Town. GTCDC is also conducting upgrading works to the seawall and landscape upgrading at the North Seafront, an area that makes up approximately 85% of all public open spaces in the George Town World Heritage Site.
Like other GTCDC projects, this is a long-term initiative that requires close collaboration between the state government, Think City and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. I hope that this project will receive the full support of Ewein Group, the concessionaire of Fort Cornwallis; Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP); as well as other state authorities.