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PUBLISHED: Mar 25, 2015 7:46pm

Reliving the old Penang — through the camera lens


Sim Wie Boon

Passers-by taking photographs for the 'Canon Get Closer' photo contest held at Lebuh Cannon in George Town, Penang. — TRP pic by Daniel Chan

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DEVELOPMENT and heritage should complement each other, but this is hardly the case usually.

In this context, George Town city in Penang finds itself in a very unique predicament.

Being an Unesco World Heritage Site and yet one of Malaysia’s most urbanised and developed cities, the beauty of the past may at times get lost in translation as newer, bigger and supposedly better things keep popping up.

Exploring heritage properties within the city may not be a hard feat as many non-governmental organisations and the state government are working hard to maintain old iconic buildings and the living heritage within the city.

Understanding the importance of preserving this cultural identity, corporations are also beginning to engage in activities that stress on heritage and George Town’s old beauty.

Canon is now running its “Canon Gets Closer” campaign aimed at giving locals and tourists a closer look at how several landmarks would have looked like in its heyday, through their camera lenses.

Flash-triggered projectors have been strategically placed all over Penang, particularly at popular hangout spots for tourists and locals.

When passers-by take pictures of sites (where the projectors are placed), their camera flash will trigger a momentary projection of that particular site in the past.

A man squatting to take a photograph of a mural art painted on an old building wall in Penang. — TRP pic by Daniel Chan
A man squatting to take a photograph of a mural art painted on an old building wall in Penang. — TRP pic by Daniel Chan

Canon has also been running a photo contest for locals and tourists where all one has to do is visit the weekly locations identified in Canon’s Facebook page, snap a picture with the history projection, caption it accordingly and upload it to its Facebook —

Selected photographs stand a chance to win Canon cameras worth up to RM20,000.

Such campaigns are outstanding examples of how corporations can make an effort or contribute towards heightening awareness and hold George Town true to its identity, while promoting their own brands.

“Penang has transformed a lot. All these new cafes are for the younger generation.

“Us old people are used to going to the good old kopitiam. These kids will go to Starbucks.

“Things change over time and the youths today get to enjoy more things,” says a Penangite who has noticed the changes that are taking over the city.

“I came here to take photographs of the old buildings. They are very well maintained despite the changing environment.

“But a lot of the century-old buildings are gone. This is my third time here,” says Singaporean tourist Siew Kock Heng

“There are some places that have been constructed tastefully, with a lot of research put in place. Although some concepts are overused, the whole city scene exudes a sub-culture charm.

“We’re just going to go with the flow and see what transpires,” says Khing, from Hin Bus Depot (a non-profit art gallery), commenting on the burgeoning art and coffee scene in George Town.

The Rakyat Post has put together a simple projection of Penang’s booming heritage city here:



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