Friday, March 4, 2011
Penang Swift action on swiftlet breeding
By MANJIT KAUR and WINNIE YEOH
PENANG has swung into action since Jan 1 to ensure operators of swiftlet breeding premises move out from the George Town heritage enclave despite the Federal Government’s three-year grace period. State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) had taken steps to address the issue which resulted in 28 farms run by 27 operators being closed down. He said due to the low-profile enforcement, the public might not be aware of the processes that had taken place.
Chow said the council had identified swiftlet farms run by 121 operators in 128 heritage buildings in the inner city “We’re taking action gradually against the remaining 94 operators running the business in 101 premises,” he said, adding that the next enforcement would take place next month. He added that the council could not simply destroy the bird nests as they had to follow the instructions of the Veterinary Services Department on the right timing to do so. “There are certain seasons when these birds lay eggs in the nests, and we cannot just destroy them,” he added.
It was reported yesterday that the Malacca and George Town’s joint Unesco World Heritage Site status may be in jeopardy due to the conversion of heri- tage buildings into swiftlet breeding premises.
Unesco’s World Heritage Centre has expressed concern over the matter following a series of reports the organisation had received.
Centre director Francesco Bandarin said, in a letter dated Jan 14, the reports stated that there were 200 to 300 swiftlet farms in George Town. Chow said the MPPP had issued notices to the operators to stop the business at the heritage enclave, and some had been charged under the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974. He said enforcement or legal action could be taken against those who defied the ruling under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976, “Under the law, we have the right to demolish the extended illegal structure, and to bring down the recording system played to attract these birds.
“We are also in the process of having joint meetings with the stakeholders, technical agencies and the non-governmental organisations (NGOs). “We are also serious about the operators restoring the building to its original structure once they move out,” he added Chow said George Town World Heritage Incorporated (WHI) general manager Maimunah Mohd Sharif had on Jan 25 responded to the National Heritage Department commissioner of heritage Prof Emeritus Datin Paduka Zuraina Majid on the action that had been taken by the state authorities.
The Federal Government had on Sept 2, last year approved a new guideline for the swiftlet breeding industry (1GP) where such activities were not allowed to be carried out at both the heritage enclaves. Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) presi- dent Khoo Salma Nasution said there was a need to have a new inventory of the number of operators conducting these businesses both in the core and buffer zones. She said PHT was willing to work with MPPP to map out all the swiftlet houses. “I hope the whole operation will be done in consultation with all parties including the NGOs, the owners of the shophouses, and the operators. “We also need to know what happens once the operators move out of the renovated buildings that require rehabilitation,” she added.
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