Sia Boey rejuvenation project on track


THE conservation of the Old Prangin Market, archaeological sites and landscaping of Sia Boey Rejuvenation Project is going on smoothly under Phase Two.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow visited the Sia Boey site and was briefed by George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) general manager Dr Ang Ming Chee and Penang Development Corporation (PDC) general manager Datuk Mohd Bazid Abd Kahar.

“The rejuvenation project was launched on March 25 last year to transform Sia Boey into an area that facilitates the coexistence of development and heritage conservation,” Chow told a press conference today.

“This is to add value to the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site by enhancing the Outstanding Universal Value with programmes and space created for the local people and restoring the shophouses in future phases.”

Chow (third from left) and other invited guests releasing some fish into the Prangin Canal.

Chow said this project would also revitalise the area of Komtar Phase 5, making it the socio-civic centre and business hub of the state.

The project is being undertaken by PDC in collaboration with GTWHI, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and with other stakeholders like Think City and George Town Conversation & Development Corporation. Its concept is an archaeological park.

Touching on how it started, Chow said in October 2015, a granite structure was uncovered at the Sia Boey site and was identified to be the Old Prangin Canal Basin by USM’s Centre for Global Archaeological Research.

The site is one of the largest archaeological sites in George Town with the Old Prangin Canal Basin as Site A and Police Barracks as Site B.

Chow said Sia Boey was the gateway of ordinary people to George Town about 300 years ago, adding that the canal in fact even went as far as Transfer Road for tongkang (boats) to come into George Town then.

The works that had been completed were Prangin Bypass (RM7mil), Archaeological Study of Site A (old Prangin Canal Basin) and Site B (Police Barracks) by USM (RM327,000), Phase 1 (A) Rehabilitation of the old Prangin Canal (RM1mil) and Phase 1 (B) Rescue Archaeology of the Prangin Canal by GTWHI (RM700,000).

Chow (centre) and other visitors admiring one of the big trees at the Sia Boey site.

The forthcoming Phase 2 (A) works include restoring two shophouses along Jalan Magazine as community facilities space (toilets, changing room, showers and lockers) and having public archaeology programme for children to teach them archaeological methods, an analysis and interpretation programme.

Chow said Phase 3 proposed works also include the restoration and adaptive reuse of all the 22 shophouses and using some of the buildings to display the artefacts in the new Prangin Archaeological Gallery as public education and outreach programme.

He said there would also be an LRT station at the Sia Boey area if ‘it happens’.

Dr Ang said 4,000 man-hours were spent on sieving of artefacts from the deposit of the canal base.

“We’ve found about 15,000 artefacts that weigh about one tonne. We’re now in the process of categorising them,” said Dr Ang, while showing Chow and other guests the items recovered from the 19th and 20th century.

Also present were state Tourism Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin, Komtar assemblyman Teh Lai Heng, Pengkalan Kota assemblyman Daniel Gooi Zi Sen, PDC deputy general manager Datuk Yeoh Lean Huat and MBPP councillor Wong Yuee Harng.

Chow, together with them, later released some fish into the canal.

Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi
Video by Law Suun Ting