GEORGE TOWN, Feb 14 — To mark the 50th anniversary of Penang’s first high rise flats, Riffle Range, the state Gerakan launched a “Padang Tembak 50” project aimed to capture the memories and stories of this old housing project and its residents.
Gerakan Kebun Bunga coordinator Ooi Zhi Yi said they will gather volunteers to collect oral and written stories of the housing area starting today.
Ooi said the volunteers will personally reach out to the residents in Rifle Range as many of them are senior citizens.
“We have set up a website for the younger generation to submit old photos and stories of Padang Tembak for this project,” he said in a press conference today.
He said the main objective of the project is to understand the people, its culture and obtain feedback and ideas of how to make Padang Tembak a better community.
“The residents not only need to uplift their housing infrastructure but it is also important to uplift their culture and economic status,” he said.
Ooi said they launched the project online first where former and current residents can go to www.padangtembak.com to participate in the project.
“People can share their memories such as photos, videos and stories of Padang Tembak,” he said.
He said there are also former residents who have made a name for themselves in their respective fields and are now living elsewhere.
“We hope these former residents will also share their memories of living there as these are the type of rags to riches stories that will inspire others,” he said.
For now, Ooi said they will look at the response to the project for about a month before deciding on what to do with the stories and photos they collect.
“We hope to gather enough information to organise an exhibition showcasing Padang Tembak,” he said.
The Rifle Range flats was the first prefabricated high rise residential buildings approved in Penang.
The flats — also known as Padang Tembak in Malay or Phak Cheng Poh in Hokkien — has a total of 3,744 units and was built in 1969 on land formerly used as a rifle range by the British army.
Today, the low cost flats continue to be home to thousands of residents, some of whom have been living there since it was first completed.