Penang hopes to complete draft special area plan for Penang Botanic Gardens this year

By Opalyn Mok
(From left) New Penang Botanic Gardens curator Dr Saw Leng Guan, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo. — Picture by Opalyn Mok

GEORGE TOWN, March 30 — The Penang state government hopes to complete the long delayed draft special area plan for its 133-year-old Penang Botanic Gardens by this year with the appointment of a new curator for the gardens.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who announced the appointment of the new curator today, said the draft special area plan for the gardens is still in planning stage.

“With the appointment of Dr Saw Leng Guan, we hope he can put more expert inputs into it because the special area plan for the gardens should not be done for planning requirements only, it needs expert input to give it full meaning and soul,” Lim said at his office today.

The draft special area plan for Penang Botanic Gardens was completed and displayed for public feedback back in 2012.

However, the special area plan was not gazetted and with the appointment of this new curator, state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo hoped the plan can be gazetted by this year.

“It was delayed as we needed to get more expert inputs to refine it further so we really want this plan to be gazetted by this year,” Jagdeep said when contacted later.

He said if Saw was to make any changes to the draft, it will have to go through the whole process of getting public feedback before it can be gazetted.

Saw, an experience botanist who was awarded the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Medal last year, starts his role as the curator on a two-year contract from April 1 onwards.

Lim expressed his full confidence in Saw, a former research fellow from Forest Research Institute Malaysia, in reviving the historical botanic gardens.

The Penang Botanic Gardens was founded in 1884 and is one of the oldest botanic gardens in Southeast Asia.

Lim said it is time to revive, revitalise and restore the gardens.

Saw said he will work to develop three main areas at the gardens which are research, conservation and education.

“We want to create a garden that gives visitors a full experience and I believe my role is to build and train a group of people to run and do things that a gardens should be doing,” Saw said.