Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ex-Penang Museum Curator Gets Thumb-Up for Project

Penang conservationist Khoo Boo Chia, shows why he is still the best in his league when his latest museum project at Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi received rapturous applauses recently. (The Starmetro, Rich history of a clan, May 27, 2009)

Khoo, the former Penang Museum curator, grabbed the headlines in 2006 (The Sun, March 24, 06 ) when he was forced to vacate his post in Penang Museum after he fell out of favor with the then Penang BN councilman holding the cultural and heritage portfolios.

Although Khoo was not formally blamed for any wrongdoings, it was an open secret that the vocal politician from UMNO was not pleased with Khoo and his work at the state museum.

According to reliable sources, Khoo was ‘guilty’ of failing to use his good office to project Penang’s multi cultural facets in the museum. The exhibits in the state museum was deemed too pro-Georgetown which is prominently Chinese and lacked features of Malay majority in Prai.

Hence, he was axed and replaced by his then young and inexperienced assistant curator.

Fortunately, the 2006 fallout has turned into a blessing for Khoo and he could devote himself wholeheartedly to the preservation of Georgetown historical enclave without having to make consensus or - worst - being labeled responsible for cultural balkanization in the Pearl of Orient.

In just a short span of a few years and the verdict is out.

Today, Khoo’s fate has been redeemed and he has proven that he is a force to be reckoned with in the field of preservation and heritage conservation.

He has left many of his personal imprints in the RM400,000 project to refurbish Leong San Tong Museum, and it could pose serious challenge to the State Museum as the next must-see heritage site.

In this bizarre twist of fate, the state has now taken a keen interest in Khoo’s latest work and it has gone so far as to proclaim the site as its next biggest treasure chest.
The icing of the evening for the former Penang Museum curator is when he got the thumb-up for his work from the Chief Minister of Penang when the latter turned up to grace the opening.
(All Photos are sourced from Penang Tourism and Khoo Kongsi websites)

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