28 villages in Penang on the brink of extinction

GEORGE TOWN: Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has identified 28 traditional villages in Penang as being on the brink of extinction.

USM Centre for Policy Research and International Studies (CENPRIS) director Professor Azeem Fazwan Farouk said the number was derived from monitoring news reports on evictions.

He however admitted there was no data on how many residents were affected and the legal status of the land the villages were on and that more research needed to be done.

He said the villages would be gone if nothing was done to preserve and urged for a rethink of the hows and whys of development.

"Each village provides a narrative of the history and heritage of Penang, each village has a story to tell," he said in a forum on preserving such villages today.

Some of the villages identified include Kampung Bagan Dalam, Kampung Batu Maung, Kampung Padang Benggali, Kampung Selut, Kampung Siam, Kampung Lima Kongsi and Kampung Tengah Jelutong.

Another speaker, CENPRIS researcher Professor Datuk Ahmad Murad Merican said villages making way for development not only meant the lost of physical space.

"What is also lost is the knowledge and the culture of the place," he said and urged NGOS, villagers, developers and the government to preserve and protect such places.

Professor Omar Farouk Sheikh Ahmad meanwhile said losing villages also meant losing elements which made up the unique Penang cultural fabric.

He said urbanisation should bring convenience to the people and not drive out residents and called for more efforts to preserve such villages.