GEORGE TOWN ― The Penang state government said today it would not approve any construction plans for the lands of three missionary schools should they be sold to developers.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government does not agree to the closure of SK Convent Light Street, SMK Convent Light Street (CLS) and SMK Convent Pulau Tikus (CPT).

Lim said while the state government may not have any say in the matter as it is private land, it would not approve any development for this land should the schools be shut down.

“What we can do is we will not give approval for any planning permission applications if a developer bought the lands,” he said in a press conference in Komtar today.

“How can you close down the oldest girls’ school in Malaysia, in South-east Asia, which is Convent Light Street? We will not agree,” Lim added.

He said that the state government was not informed of the matter before it made the news.

Lim was responding to the news that these schools are headed for closure as the schools have stopped new student intakes for Form One and Year One from 2018 onwards.

This morning the Malay Mail Online highlighted the imminent closure of these schools, possibly in four years’ time when the last batch of the students leave school.

The education department today confirmed that the schools have been told to stop intake of new students from 2018 onwards.

An old picture of Convent Light Street circa 1900. ― Picture courtesy of Marcus LangdonAn old picture of Convent Light Street circa 1900. ― Picture courtesy of Marcus LangdonThe department had also issued letters to the schools to instruct them to stop intake of new students as the landowner of the school lands, Sisters of the Infant Jesus, are taking back the lands.

Yesterday, Pulau Tikus assemblyman Yap Soo Huey confirmed that the Sisters is taking back the lands.

However, she was unclear on the Sisters’ future plans for lands.

CLS is believed to be the oldest missionary girls’ school in the country.

It was established on April 12, 1852 by the Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus Mission and the school was once an orphanage and later a boarding school for girls from wealthy families.

Back in 2005, the school launched a heritage trail within the school grounds as it is comprised of several blocks of heritage buildings including the former Government House.

Among the historical relics that still remain within the school compound are the Francis Light’s well, the Beeham Combe Hill Bell and handwritten messages on some of the walls of the classrooms by prisoners of war during the Japanese Occupation.

CPT was established by Reverend Mother Saint Hermine in 1922 as the Sekolah Convent Infant Jesus.

It was originally located at the grounds where the current SK CPT is located before a new building was built for SMK Convent Pulau Tikus in 1950.

The Sisters of the Infant Jesus no longer owns the SK CPT land so the primary school is not affected.

– M’kini