Ms Lim Gaik Siang is the President of the Penang Heritage Trust, advisor of Penang Teochew Association’s Heritage Conservation Committee, North Malaya Teo Aun Association and Zai Yang Overseas Culture Promotion Center in Chaozhou, China. Though her full-time job is in compressed air engineering, she is dedicated to the voluntary job of preserving heritage and promoting culture.
Gaik Siang’s involvement began in 1999, in preparation of George Town’s listing as a Unesco World Heritage Site. She was involved in the heritage committee, responsible for compiling the nomination dossier and preparing the evaluation by Icomos assessor in 2007, which was successfully inscribed in 2008. She was also appointed as the conservation consultant of Penang Teochew Association where she led the physical restoration and conservation of the intangible heritage of Han Jiang Ancestral Temple of the Penang Teochew Association, which was accredited by Unesco Asia-Pacific Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation in 2006. She shared many of her heritage conservation projects in various platforms, from high level political visits of former President of India, Dr Abdul Kalam in 2008, former Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Wen Jiabao in 2011, to world exhibitions and presentations at the Shanghai Expo 2010 and TEDx talk in 2013 and 2017.
The recognition of George Town as a Unesco World Heritage site has greatly lifted George Town to the global platform. More than 4000 heritage buildings in George Town World Heritage Site have been preserved. It has also created many business opportunities and raised international recognition for George Town, benefiting and improving the income of locals, not to mention the beautification of the aesthetics of many buildings in George Town. Apart from George Town’s recognition, the accreditation of Han Jiang Ancestral Temple as the world’s first Teochew architecture with a Unesco award has led to Gaik Siang’s appointment by CCTV China’s “National Treasure” program as the “National Treasure Guardian”, a great honour to a foreign Chinese.
The early childhood education at PCGS was critical in my success in the world of heritage conservation. PCGS exposed me to master multiple languages, namely Chinese, English and Malay, while gaining a strong foothold in my understanding of history and science. This aided me significantly as a cultural heritage activist in understanding architecture, cultures and to communicate effectively in multiple languages. The school’s spirit of humility, dedication and selfless contribution to society are main inspirations in fuelling my dedication to the voluntary works of heritage conservation.