2021 UNESCO- Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation Recognizes 211-year-old Thai Pak Koong Temple Conservation Works

Old Thai Pak Koong temple restored to its original glory ©Tan Yeow Wooi

1 December 2021, UNESCO Regional Office for Asia-Pacific in Bangkok announced the result of the 2021 UNESCO- Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The Thai Pak Koong (Ng Suk) Temple in George Town, Penang, winning the Award of Merit, is one of the nine projects from six countries – Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand being honored by a Jury of heritage experts.

“The high-calibre restoration is a noteworthy example of excellence in technical conservation that complements and extends the established high standard prevalent within the George Town World Heritage site. Initiated by the temple committee with broad support from other residents, the project skillfully responded to serious dilapidation problems and inappropriate previous repairs. Careful attention to historic evidence, alongside the use of traditional building techniques and engagement of master artisans from Fujian, ensured the preservation of the temple’s authenticity…” observed the Jury.  

UNESCO- Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation was established in 2000 to encourage and recognize private and community efforts in heritage conservation. When most of the heritage conservation works are states-driven, thus focusing on major monuments, private and community supports in heritage conservation have played important role in protecting vernacular houses and people heritage in towns and villages.   

This important endeavor led by Chinese communities of Gorge Town and the architect, late Tan Yeow Wooi, is the example of people’s power in heritage conservation.  

“This project has fulfilled three most important elements for success, which are timing, resources, and people. The restoration work was completed by December 2019 before the outbreak of COVID-19. The perseverance and commitment from the Thai Pak Koong (Ng Suk) Temple committee, in particular through the charismatic leadership of Dato’ Lio Chee Yeong as the Restoration Committee Chairman. Contribution of the late Mr Tan Yeow Wooi was instrumental in the success of this project, as he took a comprehensive approach to restore the temple architectural and social-religious significance. Although he is no longer with us, his legacy will be remembered and celebrated through this project”, said Dr Ang Ming Chee, General Manager, George Town World Heritage Incorporated (Site Manager for George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site).

For further information:
Link to other media reporting