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Resistance, Engagement, and Heritage Conservation by Voluntary Sector: The Case of Penang in Malaysia*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 July 2013

EDMUND W. CHENG
Affiliation:
School of Arts and Social Sciences, Open University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Email: ewcheng@ouhk.edu.hk
ANTHONY H. F. LI
Affiliation:
Centre for Civil Society and Governance, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Email: hofaili@hku.hk
SHU-YUN MA
Affiliation:
Department of Government and Public Administration, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Email: syma@cuhk.edu.hk

Abstract

An enduring question with regard to the voluntary sector is how it can nurture civic engagement and provide public goods. A World Heritage listing for Penang highlights this question by revealing a vibrant civil society network that has made heritage conservation an issue for public discourse and policy agenda. This paper discusses how the marginalized trajectory of Penang is related to the development of its civic realm, social cohesion and local identity, which are sources of Penang's voluntarism. It then examines the engagement pattern of the Penang Heritage Trust, a leading association, which has mounted resistance against the state's failure in heritage provision. This bottom-up approach has preserved Penang's cultural heritage and associated identity, and reveals the distinct nature and capacity of Penang's voluntary sector that goes against the general pattern in Malaysia.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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Footnotes

*

The authors are deeply indebted to Ms Salma Khoo, Ms G. S. Lim, Professor Anwar Fazal, and other interviewees, for providing valuable first-hand information. Without their generous support, this research project would not have been successfully completed. The comments and suggestions of three anonymous reviewers are also very much appreciated. The research for this paper was supported by the Open University of Hong Kong Research Grant (No. 2009/2.4), and the Chinese University of Hong Kong Direct Research Grant (No. 2020922).

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99 These are only prominent examples. The PHT has discovered and preserved a range of heritages, such as Catholic commentary, Muslim waqf, Chinese temple, jetty village and revolutionary base.

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