Columbarium project buried

BY SYLVIA LOOI, The Star, Nov 10, 2004

PENANG, Malaysia -- The Penang Municipal Council has decided not to extend the planning permission to build the controversial Buddhist institution-cum-columbarium project in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah here.

Sources said the developer, Stamford Raffles By The Sea Sdn Bhd, had been informed of the matter. 

When contacted, Penang Municipal councillor Tang Heap Seng said that the matter was decided upon during the council?s presidential committee meeting recently.

He said that there were several reasons why the council did not extend the planning permit. 

?The developer had not furnished to the council the floor plan for each level and other details of the proposed columbarium. 

?The altar and niches would only be at the existing heritage building (Shih Chung school).

?Details of the numbers and size of the niches and their specifications had also not been worked out,? he said.

The RM42mil project consists of three nine-storey blocks forming a U-shape memorial hall surrounding the heritage building of the Shih Chung School. It had its work order withheld in June last year after various parties protested. 

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was then the Deputy Prime Minister, had also questioned the project and instructed the state government to explain why the project was approved.

The council subsequently set up a special committee, headed by councillor Ooi Chin Loo together with senior council officers and the state Town and Country Planning Department, to study the project.