Speech by Y.A.B. Tuan Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang
Book Launch of Marcus Langdon’s “Penang: The Fourth Presidency of India, 1805 – 1830, Volume Two: Fire, Spice and Edifice”
On 7 November 2015
A very good afternoon to all of you. I am pleased to join you for the launch of the much awaited second volume of Marcus Langdon’s tetralogy “Penang: The Fourth Presidency of India”. I would like to commend the author, Mr. Marcus Langdon, for his remarkable endeavour in meticulously documenting the fascinating past of Penang. George Town World Heritage Incorporated is proud to be the sponsor and publisher of this exceptional work in our ongoing effort to preserve and conserve the invaluable heritage of this historic city.
A little over two centuries ago, the British East India Company made its foray into this part of the world in search of a port of call for trading ships sailing from West to East. Penang became a part of that colonial history when Captain Francis Light made his maiden landing on Penang in 1786.
The elevation of Penang to a Presidency of the British East India Company is testament that this island was once the stronghold of the British in this region. The abundant colonial buildings found along the streets of George Town confirm our glorious history and heritage. The momentous inscription of George Town as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 validates the exceptional cultural and architectural influence from the era of the Presidency, which has since been nurtured and flourished across two centuries.
For this reason the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to assist Penang to preserve, protect and promote George Town, especially developing the many buildings and sites in and around the waterfront areas. For AKTC to develop such a close interest in Penang is a recognition of the unique and outstanding universal values of George Town not only to Penang and Malaysia but also to all humanity. No wonder Lonely Planet celebrated Penang’s exceptionalism by listing Penang as the fourth most charismatic city in the world, the only city from ASEAN and No. 1 in Asia.
This important piece of work by Mr. Marcus Langdon is the second part of a four-book series which gives us great insight into Penang during the period of 1805 – 1830. It has been fastidiously researched and written by the author after years of peeling through layers of information, and connecting the scattered dots, to finally assemble a cohesive and valuable body of knowledge of the past. Indeed this academic tour de force is a labour of love by a distinguished researcher.
Through collaborations with individuals and organisations from diverse fields of expertise, GTWHI has published a significant collection of books and brochures on subjects concerning various forms of tangible and intangible heritage in George Town. As Chairman of GTWHI that is sponsoring the publication of this book, I am proud to note that the book we are launching today will be a remarkable addition to the bookshelf of those who share our fascination for Penang’s cultural roots and heritage.
In Penang, we are proud of our “C” “A” “T” policy. From our Competency Accountability and Transparency platform, we have further expanded to creating the CAT (Central Area Transit) Bus, the CAT (Career Assistance and Talent) Centre, and @CAT, the Accelerator for Creative Analytics Technology. To this list, I would like to add our Heritage CAT – the Cultural and Architectural Treasures of Penang!
The appreciation of the Cultural and Architectural Treasures in Penang goes hand in hand with Education. This is because people can only truly appreciate heritage after they understand and know the stories and meanings behind it. Only by understanding the past can one connect to the present to face the challenges of the future successfully together. Creating awareness and knowledge of heritage will help us to better conserve our heritage as a celebration of diversity. The Penang state government, together with ongoing public-private partnerships, will continue our unremitting effort to ensure that every aspect of our valuable heritage is safeguarded and then shared with the rest of the world, in line with our vision for George Town to be an intelligent and sustainable city that belongs to Penang, Malaysia, and all of humanity.
Before I end this speech, I would like to thank Mr. Marcus Langdon once again for his outstanding work, and my commendation to GTWHI for working towards elevating Penang’s prestige and performance above the rest.