Monday, June 29, 2009

HMS Ocean archored in Penang

HMS Ocean (L12) - The Royal Navy helicopter carrier made history in Penang when it anchored in the Pearl of Orient for the first time on June 18, 2009.

According to reliable sources, her majesty’s ship and crew have just returned from a war game in their favorite tropical training camp in Brunei. The Penang stopover is part of the fleet’s month long journey back to their home base in Plymouth.

Like most Penangites, I had a great view of the HMS Ocean from the ferry terminal in Butterworth. The view of warship gets more interesting if you like me have the opportunity to take the iconic ferry across the narrow Penang Strait.

One can begin to appreciate the full scale of the carrier especially if view it from the sea. The 208-meter long floating airfield dwarfs over everything nearby at the wharf.

However, all eyes are quickly drawn to the Sea Kings and Chinooks on board the Amphibious Assault Ship.

Another spectacular feature of the warship is the cutting edge military hardware packed with awesome firepower. Most noticeable is the Phalanx CIWS - the state-of-the-art anti ship missile system on the HMS Ocean’s bow and helm. I saw only these two Phalanx units although Wikipedia notes there are three on board.

The arrival of the British warship also captured the headlines in the local Chinese press Kwong Wah Yit Poh (June 18, 2009 edition; see attached photo) and featured in Starmetro (Warship docks in Butterworth, June 25, 2009)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ousted Penang Museum Curator makes a Comeback.

Ex-Penang Museum curator Khoo Boo Chia shows why he is still the authority in the field of heritage conservation in this country when his latest museum project at Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi was opened to rapturous applauses (The Starmetro, Rich history of a clan, May 27, 2009).

Khoo made the headlines in 2006 when he was 'forced' to vacate his post in Penang Museum(The Sun, March 24, 06 and also read blog entry - June 16, 2008) after he fell out of favor with the then BN councilman in charge of cultural and heritage affairs in Penang.

Although Khoo was not formally charged of any wrongdoings but it was an open secret that the vocal politician from UMNO was not pleased with Khoo and his work at the state museum.

According to reliable sources, Khoo was ‘guilty’ of failing to use his good office to project Penang’s multi cultural facets in the museum. The exhibits in the state museum was deemed too pro-Georgetown which is prominently Chinese and lacked features of Malay majority in Prai.

Hence, he was axed and replaced by his then young and inexperienced assistant curator.

Fortunately, the 2006 fallout has turned into a blessing for Khoo and he could devote himself wholeheartedly to the preservation of Georgetown historical enclave without having to make consensus or worst – being accused of cultural balkanization in the Pearl of Orient.

In just a short span of a few years and the verdict is out.

Today, Khoo’s forte in the preservation field is vindicated again.
He has left many of his personal touches in the RM400,000 project to refurbish Leong San Tong Museum and it could present itself as a worthy opponent to the Penang State Museum in a stiff competition to draw in the crowd.

The state government is also quick to proclaim the site to have good chance to be the state’s next biggest treasure chest.

Topping the icing for Khoo on that memorable evening is when he received commendation for his remarkable work from the Chief Minister of Penang himself when the latter turned up to grace the opening.