SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG
AT THE OPENING OF FOUNTAIN GARDEN
LEBUH LIGHT, PENANG
27TH JANUARY 2019, 5PM
A very good afternoon to all of you. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for being here despite it’s taking place on a Sunday afternoon. I know time could have been better spent with family and friends or to explore our beautiful state. But today is a historic day for George Town and I am excited to be sharing the experience with all of you! I would also like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to those who have had a hand in shaping the transformation of the public spaces of this beloved city of ours.
First of all, I would like to commend the efforts of the Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP), and George Town Conservation and Development Corporation (GTCDC) in this mission to bring us back to a time forgotten by reinstating a public asset within George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This area where we are now gathered is the site for some of the oldest, important and significant structures of George Town. With such a renowned range of attractions nearby and a big green open space that has hosted many of our festivals, celebrations and events, it is no wonder that this area is a place for families and visitors to relax and linger. The green field all of us know as Padang Kota Lama or Esplanade, is an important public space located in the inner city of George Town, with a huge space for families and people from all walks of life and ages to carry out recreational activities.
This fountain standing before us has been with the city for almost 135 years, and now it stands tall and will once again be the pride of Penang.
As we all know, George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of our Outstanding Universal Values (OUVS), both tangible and intangible. And as part of our commitment towards strengthening and enhancing our OUVS, in restoring this historic garden, we are abiding by the guidelines set forth in the Florence Charter. The Charter which was developed in 1981 by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and since adopted by UNESCO, is meant for the preservation of historic gardens.
The Charter outlines strategies for conservation and restoration of gardens, including their layout, vegetation, structural and decorative features, and use of water. It recommends protecting the fabric and cultural message of such gardens.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Quality public spaces are a vital component to the liveability of a city. They are spaces where people can take a breather from the mundane confines of the office, and the hustle and bustle of the city. It is also a place where ties between communities and people are nurtured or even rekindled.
The Fountain Garden is the first historic garden restoration project in Penang and it was guided by available old photographs and records. The scope of the restoration work includes reinstating the original design layout and the positioning of structures within the site. The entire cost of its restoration work amounting to RM400,000 was fully borne by Think City since work began on 14 Feb 2018.
Its restoration falls under the George Town North Seafront Masterplan. This Masterplan is part of the Special Area Plan (SAP) approved by the local authorities in September 2016.
As the State Government is serious in pursuing a network of green public spaces to increase connectivity, walkability and social interaction; together with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI), and Think City, through the establishment of GTCDC, we have developed the North Seafront Masterplan to pursue the objective of creating quality public spaces that are amenable, attractive, safe and inclusive to all.
Other projects under the initiative include the restoration of Fort Cornwallis as a national monument, the reinstatement of the Fort Cornwallis Moat, restoration of the Queen Victoria Clock Tower, strengthening of the Esplanade Seawall, improvements to Lebuh Light promenade, as well as improvements to Dewan Sri Pinang and the surrounding precinct.
Once completed, this initiative will significantly expand the limited public spaces of the city and improve public amenities in the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site. Upon completion, the entire plan for the seafront will be one of Penang’s most significant public spaces.
This effort also complements our recently announced Penang Green Connectors Project, which will see the development of various parks and amenities providing seamless connectivity to the hills and along the coasts.
In conclusion, I hope that by restoring this historic fountain garden for the people of Penang, you will find a small piece of joy and respite whenever you are seated here. Perhaps this would bring back fond memories of old Penang for you too. We encourage you to bring your friends and family here to admire its stately beauty, and to explore what our charming city has to offer.