Living Heritage Treasures Awards

PHT ‘Living Heritage Treasures of Penang’ Awards

Supported by 7-Terraces 

We are all familiar with the tangible cultural heritage around us – the historical buildings, enclaves, monuments– and of the need to protect these for future generations. However, intangible cultural diversity encompassing skills and techniques, are viewed also as essential and critical for the continuation of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Many countries such as France, Japan, Vietnam, Korea have instituted National Living Treasures.

The Penang Heritage Trust feels that the State of Penang is particularly rich in various types and genres of intangible cultural heritage that require protection and preservation. Therefore it is considered timely that Penang continues this programme started in 2004, which seeks to identify Penangites who are still with us and who carry with them, to the highest degree, skills that need to be acknowledged, documented, preserved and transmitted, in order that we may not be left in bereavement for the loss of our heritage.

Promotion and dissemination are the by-products of this award. Greater public awareness will be created and greater appreciation of tradition and skills, of crafts and of the individuals who have persisted, maintained, promoted and developed the cultural heritage of Penang.  PHT’s Living Heritage Treasures Award will also ensure that recording and documentation take place. Techniques, practices and skills will be archived and hopefully transmitted. The PAPA Programme (Penang Apprenticeship Programme for Artisans) is a by-product of LHTA; and ThinkCity has assisted both LHTA and PAPA with process documentation as well as publicity for artisan skills and crafts. Sustainability of our cultural heritage will be the end product.


UNESCO has stated that Living Heritage Treasures are persons who embody or who have, in the highest degree, the skills and techniques necessary for the production of certain aspects of our culture, the life of our people and the continued existence of our cultural heritage.

These aspects of cultural life may be exceptional to Penang, they may be experiencing scarcity, vulnerability or loss of significance. Through time, dedication, practice and persistence, these persons may also have advanced, promoted or preserved skills and techniques considered traditional and core to our Penang cultural heritage.


The intangible nature of the cultural asset or treasure renders him / her vulnerable. The preservation of such intangible cultural assets implies the preservation and transmission of the skills and techniques necessary for the continuation of our cultural heritage. Therefore giving special acknowledgement and recognition to persons or collective groups, who have these skills and techniques, in the highest degree, can aim towards achieving this continuity.

  • The Awards will be publicised widely in the local and national press, and the public will be invited to submit candidates based on particular criteria to be laid out. A Nomination Form can be downloaded here  or obtained from PHT office
  • The background and accuracy of the nominations are checked by the PHT team
  • A Panel of Judges will be selected, composing of people who are held in public esteem, and who are acknowledged as capable, impartial, knowledgeable and even-minded. These have included a wide range of experts with backgrounds in law, musicology, arts, education, architecture and culture like the late Tan Sri Chang Min Tat, the late Dato’ Tengku Ismail Jewa, Dato’ Sharom Ahmad, Dato’ Ismail Adam, Professor Tan Sooi Beng, Dato’ Tang Hon Yin, and Hasnul Saidon.
  • The awards are limited to 3 a year and a maximum of 8 in total at any one time
  • A Certificate and a Plaque will be awarded at the annual ceremony. Over the years, Awards have been presented by the late Datin Sri Endon 2005, Tan Sri Dr Koh 2007, and YAB Lim Guan Eng 2008 and 2009.
  • There will be a cash award on an annual basis in order to assist the recipient – RM2000 per year for the remainder of his/her lifetime
  •  Arrangement will be made for full documentation of skills, techniques and processes.
  • Arrangements will be made for transmission of skills and to conduct apprenticeship wherever possible
  • Funding will be sought for post award promotions of the particular cultural heritage. These would involve performances, exhibitions, demonstrations and marketing for future economic viability
  • Funding will be sought for publication of the documentation of skills, techniques, practices and processes. Copies of documentation to be presented and lodged with Penang Heritage Trust, George Town World Heritage Incorporated, The Penang State Museum, The National Archives and Badan Warisan Malaysia.

PHT has received hundreds of nominations from the public for the Awards since its inception. Those nominated were experts in various fields such as visual arts, traditional crafts, culinary skills, martial arts, literature and performing arts.


The Penang Heritage Trust invites the public to nominate individuals that fulfil the criteria of being Penangites who are still with us and who carry with them, to the highest degree, skills that represent the Living Cultural Heritage of Penang. These men and women need to be acknowledged and their skills need to be documented, preserved and transmitted, in order that we may not be left in bereavement for the loss of our intangible heritage. The successful Awardee receives public acknowledgement, a plaque and certificate, and RM2,000 a year for the remainder of his/her lifetime.

N.B.SamarasenaMaster Jeweller
Kok Ah WahTraditional Signboard Carver
Ooi Sew KimHokkien Puppet Opera
Noo Wan @ Wan Dee AroonratanaThai Menora/Cultural Expert
Toh Ai HwaTeochew Puppeteer
Sim Buck TeikMaster Rattan Weaver
Cecil RajendraPoet & Human Rights Lawyer
Haja Mohideen Bin O.S.M Mohamad ShariffHandmade Songkok Artisan
The Late Mohd Bahroodin Ahmad (1944-2008)Cultural Expert
The Late Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng (1914-2008)Batik Artist
The Late Yeap Seong Kee (1925-2008)Master Kebaya Designer
The Late Lee Khek Hock (1939-2014)Traditional Lantern Artisan
The Late Dato’ Lim Bian Yam (1933-2017)Chef & Floral Artist
 Nominations forms may be downloaded here or collected at 26 Church Street, 10200 George Town, Penang. Enquiries may be made at PHT +604–2642631.