Sunday, 13 March 2011

"Am I being cold storaged?"

Firstly, don't worry about ME. I know I have been cold storaged.  That's old news. This is not about me.

I debated whether this post should be on my personal blog or on this semi-official blog. I decided that whoever reads it may learn a thing or two. BTW, in case you haven't noticed, the counter is approaching 100,000 page views - after almost fours years of sweat. Bring out the champagne! I wonder how I can convert page views into impact factor?

Let me first point you to my post on March 4 - yes, it's related.

It started with an email, time stamped at 20:08 on friday last (11th March). It said RSVP. I ignored it.

And then the SMSs started coming about 9 pm until passed 10 pm. One. Two. Three. Four. I "ignored" them - meaning I didn't press "reply" but I said to me wife, "OK, I will tell them yes, I will come with my girl friend". And we went to sleep.

Next morning (yesterday), Saturday, we went to the market. About 9 something, my phone buzzed, my wife happened to be near the phone, picked it up and gave it to me. The conversation was something like this "hey, you didn't reply to the invitation .... blah, blah, blah". I said, "ok, ok, I will respond now" and shot off an SMS.

As usual, I leave my phone in the room and let it be. Later yesterday evening, I checked and ooops, 3 or 4 missed calls. I guessed where it was coming from (phone no. not on my list) but ignored them - didn't call back lah, already at night. Then this morning, I saw another SMS, saying, amongst others,  "... awaiting yr presence 2mrw ..." - timestamped 11:15 pm, last nite.

So, what's all the excitement (some may call it "fuss") all about? Am I really that important? Nahhh, I'm just a minor player in all this. They are all just good friends and comrades in urban conservation.

Maimunah on the left is an old friend, with my girlfriend next to her. Alex Koenig on the right - he attended our wedding dinner ages ago (oops did I say wedding?). He was one of the key players who had a frustrating time in the 1980s trying to get the conservation agenda on the policy-makers' plate.

Ah, here are the important people. Right in front of the picture is the Press Table. The VVIPs are at the other end of the room. This is the ground floor of the George Town World Heritage Inc. (GTWHI) office at Acheh Street.

Now here's the VVIP, the Honorable Chief Minister of Penang with Maimunah, the outgoing General Manager of GTWHI and soon-to-be President of the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai. All those crushing forward are members of the Press - they seems very interested in this news, for obvious reasons (?)

Don't worry, what I'm telling you is not official secret because the Chief Minister himself talked about it in front of the Press and the guests. Yes, the CM was full of praise for Maimunah. He identified three qualities in Maimunah. She has the knowledge and skills in her area of expertise. She is able to communicate (hey, students, are you getting this?). And most important, she has the passion for what she does.

Ah, but then the CM told a little secret. He said that when he picked Maimunah for the job of GM at GTWHI, she asked him "am I being cold storaged?". (You gotta give Maimunah due credit for asking the boss that. Spunky lady, don't you think?)

What? Really? Yes, Maimunah confirmed the story. Remember this was the year 2009. At that time Maimunah was the Director of Town Planning at the Municipal Council of Penang Island. From managing 300 staff, she started out with 3 staff to create a brand new company called GTWHI.

But why did she ask that of the Chief Minister? Those of you familiar with the infant years of George Town World Heritage Listing would know that we almost had the carpet pulled from under our feet. The four controversial hotels in the heritage area was approved with heights exceeding the 18 metres stated in the dossier submitted to UNESCO. And guess who was the director of planning then?

And those of you who followed the blogosphere may remember a guy named Jeff Ooi, who was then the Chief of Staff of the CM writing in his blog, blaming and naming the two ladies (Maimunah and Patahiyah) for the debacle.  (I tried to google the article but have not been successful yet. As a personal note, I am not suggesting either ladies were responsible. Knowing how the politics worked back then, I am sure there is more than meets the eye.)

Guess what, both ladies are now heading the two local councils in Penang. What did they say about politics? "The art of the impossible." "There are no permanent enemies"

Well, for the record, CM denied he was cold storing Maimunah. In fact, CM told her that he could see her potential and capability (he said that this morning). Of course, which idiot would appoint a person to an important job and hopes that he or she fails? Hey, we are talking World Heritage here.

I will full-stop this post here ... and leave you to ponder your own paths in life.

In the meantime, here are more pictures.

Some of the guests. On the left is the current Chairman of MIP Northern Branch and the first lady, who is also the Branch Secretary (Michael Ong and Hui Lin)

Tourists all like to take this shot.
The lady in cheongsam is Lim Chooi Ping who takes over from Maimunah. There's also Amelia Neoh on the left, a town planner with the State. And lady who introduced herself as Teh, an engineer, who likes sweet things.

 This was after the GTWHI Committee meeting last thursday, 10 March 2011. The reason we are all holding the pieces of paper is because we were all "excited" about getting our letters of appointment to the Committee - one year and three months after we started serving! Talk about volunteerism and perserverance. Yes, none of us get paid for being on the Committee. Well, some do get projects related to GTWHI. Oooo, my pro-bono work on the Integrated Heritage Database merited a mention by the outgoing GM in her appreciation speech this morning.

 All passionate about protecting George Town.
From the left (each head in sequenc): myself, Hijas, Gaik Siang, Yoke Mui, Tengku Idaura, Gywnn, Maimunah, Koay (web developer), Neil (Thinkcity), Bok Kim, Khoo Salma, Yeow Wai

(A few of the photos in this post are courtesy of Hijas)


SookFern said...

Read the news, but did not aware you are the one who is working on the heritage database. It's a good move!

Michael Peter Foo said...

New look for the blog? Could be better. Thanks for the article.