Malaysia is a country rich in a variety of cultures recognised and admired by many. Last month, Kuching won the Creative City of Gastronomy title from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This month, an award was attained. The Thai Pak Koong (Ng Suk) Temple in Penang received the Award of Merit at the 2021 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
The list of award recipients is available on UNESCO Bangkok’s website.
Thai Pak Koong Temple: UNESCO Award
Out of 39 entries from 12 countries across the Asia Pacific, only nine projects from six countries were picked and the temple was the only one in Malaysia to be given the award this year.
The jury of heritage experts from UNESCO picked the 9 projects from Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia.
Fu De CI Restoration Project: Thai Pak Koong Temple
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow announced the award in an online press conference on Wednesday (1 Dec). According to him, the temple’s Fu De Ci Restoration Project gains recognition for its excellence in three main areas. The project has a full understanding of its history, technical accomplishments, as well as sustainability and impact.
The minister also revealed that the last time Penang received the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation was back in 2008 for restoration works on Suffolk House.
On behalf of the state government, I would like to congratulate the temple committee on this exemplary restoration project and for winning the UNESCO award.Chow Kon Yeow, Penang Chief Minister
The man behind the project
The late Tan Yeow Wooi was the conservation architect for the project. The minister paid homage to Tan as his contributions drove the success of the project.
Moreover, the temple restoration committee chairman and vice president Datuk Lio Chee Yeong also dedicated the award to Tan. According to Lio, Tan had conducted in-depth research into the history of the temple and its architectural style to ensure the conservation efforts were of the highest standards.
He said that the restoration project was conducted to ensure that everything was done in full compliance with strict heritage conservation guidelines. This is because there were a few renovations done without guidelines over the years.
In one of the renovations done about 15 years ago, the roof was cemented and does not reflect the original architecture from 100 years ago. Therefore, the roof was torn down under the restoration project.
Even the roof, which was cemented in one of the renovations from about 15 years ago, was torn out and changed to reflect the original architecture from 100 years ago.
Additionally, Lio also thanked George Town World Heritage Incorporated for their valuable input in this project as the style of restoration adopted was according to the early 1900s style.
Cost of the project
The total cost of the restoration was around RM3 million and Lio said they still owed around RM600,000.
According to Lio, the project was funded by the state government with RM400,000. A majority of the other funds were also contributed by donors.
Lio hoped that Penang might consider to allocate more funds so that the temple could pay off the debt for the restoration works.
This award is not only for our temple but for Penang and Malaysia to showcase our diverse culture and heritage that can stand out internationally.Datuk Lio Chee Yeong
(Source: Malay Mail)