GEORGE TOWN: Jul 23 , 2008 By PRISCILLA DIELENBERG
The state government plans to put up street names and road signs in multiple languages at heritage areas here for the benefit of tourists and visitors.
State Local Government, Traffic Management and Environment Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said yesterday that the languages would depend on the cultural characteristics of the streets in question.
“There have been requests for road signs in various languages now that George Town has received Unesco recognition as a world heritage site. The state has, in principle, agreed to have signs in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Chinese and Tamil, and maybe even Arabic,” he said.
Chinese signs: Penang residents riding past one of the six new road signs in George Town yesterday. The six signs were put up by a group of Gerakan members on Monday.
Chow noted that the Federal Government had also approved an allocation to put up signboards in various languages around George Town.
On the six street signs put up by several Gerakan members, led by former Penang Municipal Council councillor Dr Thor Teong Ghee, Chow said he had instructed the council to give notice to the group to remove them.
“The council will advise them to take down the signs themselves, unlike in the past when the council under the previous administration used to pull down signs put up by the DAP within two hours,” said Chow.
On Monday, Dr Thor and six others put up the road signs in Chinese to remind the DAP that it had to keep its word to come up with such road signs now that the party was helming the state. The six signs were for Beach Street, Burmah Road, Macalister Road, Carnarvon Street, Chulia Street and Jalan C.Y. Choy.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said there was no reason for anyone to politicise the issue as this was the people's aspiration. He likened the need to have multilingual road signs to the multilingual announcements at airports which were a necessity.
However, Tanjung Umno Youth division chief Shaharrudin Hassan urged the local government and government agencies to only allow road signs in the national language.
“If the Malays can compromise with not having road signs in Jawi or Arabic, we do not see why the other races cannot practise a similar thing,” he said.
When contacted, Dr Thor said he would wait for the council's notice, but hoped that the signs could remain until the council put up its own.