Sedia maklum, Pulau Pinang merupakan Tapak Warisan Dunia UNESCO yang kaya dengan budaya, seni bina dan masyarakatnya. Jika anda ke Georgetown, pasti anda dapat lihat bangunan lama yang masih digunakan dengan baik, karakter masyarakat yang masih berniaga di bawah rumah mereka dan sebagainya.

Malah, jika anda berkunjung ke Armenian Street, pasti anda akan melihat pelbagai lukisan mural yang berada di situ. Antara lukisan mural yang menjadi perhatian pastinya lukisan ‘Kanak-kanak Atas Basikal’ dan banyak lagi serta buat mereka yang ingin mengambil gambar kebanyakkannya harus beratur terlebih dahulu.

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Baru-baru ini, Ernest Zacharevic iaitu pelukis gambar mural ikonik ‘Kanak-kanak Atas Basikal’ telah menzahirkan rasa kecewa beliau di laman sosial Instagramnya kerana kawasan tersebut ‘tidak lagi seperti dahulu’.

Jalan berkenaan kini menjadi pusat tumpuan pelancong dan seiring dengan popularitinya, terdapat banyak pembangunan baharu dan kedai-kedai ‘hipster’ muncul di kawasan terbabit.

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The fading kids on bike are still there, the people are still linning up for pictures, but today is not a regular day at Armenian Street. The steet has not been the same as it used to when I first moved there, quiet heritage street with few local residents offering antiques or 6RM haircut on a ground floor of their family home has been replace with souvenir shops, restaurants, and all kind of insta friendly quickly consumable concept stores to satisfy ever increasing traffic of holiday goers looking for 'authentic penang experiance'. One of those had been torn to ground this morning, just weeks since its grand opening. Not exactly sure of reasons but local goss says they had no proper building permits for such a construction and did not cooperate with council to address that. As much as I feel for the business owners who put their money and effort to open this shop I can't hide the joy of seeing council actually acting on its promises and enforcing the regulations that they established. It looks brutal but I don't think there is a polite way of demolishing a building. This part of Georgetown is a unesco haritage, and it has been threatened with the removal from unesco list due to failure to protect its culture, architecture and the community. Myself and many others blame my work for Armenian Street being a center of tourist route in Penang and honestly I've been contemplating of simply painting over it in hopes to put an end to that circus. But I think the time where it would make any difference has passed. You can barely see the artwork anymore but people are still lining up there. And if not kids on bicycle people will line up for something else. End of the day art does not issue construction permits, sell entire row of heritage houses to foreign investors, give out business licenses, docking permits to cruise boats or opens new flight routes. It's something to be strickly regulated especially in culturaly fragile places like Georgetown. We can only hope that what happen today will make business owners think twice before thay open another bubble tea shop or 3d art museum in this town. #penang #georgetown #gentrificationsucks

A post shared by Ernest Zacharevic (@ernestzacharevic) on

Bagi beliau, mural yang dilukisnya telah ‘mengganggu’ tempat tersebut yang dahulunya tenang. Malah, beliau juga pernah mempertimbangkan untuk memadam lukisan tersebut dan mengakhiri kedatangan pelancong yang terlalu ramai di kawasan tersebut.

Ernest turut menambah disebabkan kawasan tersebut menjadi terlalu terkenal, ianya sedikit sebanyak menjejaskan tujuan utama pelancong iaitu mendalami dan merasai pengalaman sebenar di Pulau Pinang.

Harapan beliau cuma tiada lagi kemodenan berlaku di Armenian Street bagi menjaga status UNESCO dan nilai budaya tempat berkenaan.

Jika nilai budaya hilang, tidak mustahil status Tapak Warisan Dunia UNESCO yang diperoleh pada tahun 2008 juga turut akan terlucut.

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