Movie filming at Penang tomb upsets heritage activists

GEORGE TOWN: Approvals for movie filming at heritage sites here come from the Penang Island City Council (MBPP), said the George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI).

GTWHI general manager Ang Ming Chee said this to theSun when asked about a mock tomb constructed at the old Protestant cemetery in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah where Penang's founder Sir Francis Light is buried.

"We monitored the site last week during filming and have advised the film company to respect the site," she said.

The tomb was used for a scene in a Hong Kong movie that was filmed at the cemetery.

It was reported in a local daily that Hong Kong actress Charmaine Sheh and film crew were at the cemetery to film a movie last week.

Heritage activists are upset over the mock tomb issue.

Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) council member Clement Liang, in a Facebook posting, took to task the action of certain quarters in building a mock tomb inside the historical cemetery.

He said the tomb made of solid black marble with cement mould popped up over the long Hari Raya Aidilfitri holiday for the shooting of a Hong Kong movie.

"Inscribed on the tomb is a Chinese named Danny Song who is supposed to die on 2018.08.01. Is someone playing a joke in this Category I heritage site?" he asked.

Another activist, Mark Lay, also queried the authorities' lack of monitoring in the historical cemetery which resulted in the appearance of the mock tomb.

He asked whether this shows lack of heritage conservation management of the Category I heritage site.

Another activist, A. Kumar, also questioned on the need to construct the tomb and urged MBPP and GTWHI to clarify whether permission was given.

He welcomed foreign production crew to film movies or dramas here but the sensitivities of locals and heritage need to be respected at all cost.

Checks at the Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) Discussions group on social media showed many netizens condemned the tomb issue.

Ehsan Zolkifly stated it should be reported to the police and related authorities for stern action to be taken.

"This in invasion of privacy of a cultural and heritage place," he said.

An official from GTWHI, meanwhile, said the tomb structure has since been removed on Monday afternoon.

Attempts to reach MBPP for a response were futile at time of writing.