GEORGE TOWN: Penang has spent RM29.1 million on the upgrade, management and maintenance of the Sia Boey urban archaeological park since 2019, the state assembly was told today.
Executive councillor Wong Hon Wai said Penang Development Corporation (PDC) was allocated about RM528,000 a year to manage and maintain the park since 2020 by its subsidiary, PDC Setia Urus Sdn Bhd.
“PDC is also in the process of applying for a grant from the economy ministry to build a public toilet at the site,” he said.
Wong was responding to Wong Yuee Harng (PH-Pengkalan Kota) who had asked about the annual expenses of maintaining the park.
Yuee Harng said the maintenance of the site did not appear to be satisfactory and also asked what measures would be taken to bring it up to Unesco world heritage site standards.
Previously, the state revealed that RM9.1 million was spent on diverting and rehabilitating the old canal, creating a new canal, and archaeological works in 2019. The restoration of the old Prangin Market cost RM5.1 million.
Sia Boey was a disused market in the heart of George Town, straddling the Prangin Canal and just outside the heritage site. Also in its vicinity was a row of abandoned pre-war shophouses. Sia Boey is a Hokkien word meaning “tail-end of a settlement”.
In 2016, archaeologists discovered an old canal and the remains of an old police station dating back to the mid-19th century at Sia Boey.
A secure wall, a canal lock and a building built with red brick and mortar showed it was highly likely built during the early history of George Town by the British East India Company in 1804.
Further digging also revealed Chinese and European ceramic shards, ceramics, a wooden bollard and old coins minted by the British North Borneo Company.
Today, Sia Boey is an event space, a park, and a playground with koi fish in a closed canal.