Macau (MNA) – The costs and number of shipyards to be preserved in Lai Chi Wun in Coloane “should not be a problem” if the shipyards are deemed to have high heritage value, remarked Sharif Shams Imon, the head of the Heritage Management Programme at the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT).
“What to protect and how to protect depends upon […] how important the shipyards are in terms of Macau’s heritage context,” Dr. Imon told Macau News Agency (MNA).
The professor said the Macau SAR Government should be willing to spend what is necessary on the preservation of the shipyards if they are all considered important, regardless of amount.
Currently, the government is working on the heritage assessment of the site, with the deadline for concluding the assessment set for December this year.
Imon argued that it is “meaningless at the current stage” to discuss how many shipyards should be preserved or whether to open a museum or a shopping mall on the site prior to knowing the assessment results.
The Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC), which is in charge of evaluating the site, held a forum in March, during which several experts and scholars discussed and suggested plans for the revitalisation of the yards, iting a number of references from around the world, such as the introduction of a cultural and creative centre.
“They already discussed how they are going to deal with it [the site] – I’m a bit worried that this might affect how they categorise the site,” said the scholar.
Imon, who is also a member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), UNESCO’s advisory body on cultural matters, said the government must proceed with a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) of the site, arguing that many parts of the world perform HIA for their potential heritage sites.
According to the definition provided by the Antiquities and Monuments Office in Hong Kong, the objective of HIA is to have all new capital work projects, project proponents and relevant work departments engaged in considering whether their projects will affect sites or buildings of historic or archaeological significance.
“HIA means that whatever decision we make is going to have an impact upon the heritage value of the place that we are protecting,” added Dr. Imon. “HIA in Macau is not mandatory by law, but this does not stop the government from performing the assessment.”
When asked about his view of the value of the shipyards the professor said that the site has very high value given that it represents one stage of Macau’s transformation.
“Macau has undergone a lot of changes … [and] the shipyards represent one period. It is collectively [demonstrating that period] but not just one shipyard,” he claimed.