Keeping the old in Kampung Baru

Opinion  |  James Chai
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | I get uneasy whenever I hear about development plans for places that have a rich history. Malaysia doesn’t have a good reputation for preserving heritage sites and historical places. Most of the time, profit and short-termism is prioritised ahead of cultural legacy and history.

When the Royal Belum State Park in Gerik was in the queue to acquire Unesco heritage site status, the Perak government resisted it and said the status would deprive the state of revenue from logging. Logging revenue is more important than preserving heritage.

We also used to have the Pudu Prison that was built by the British in 1891, and it had the longest mural in the world which an inmate painted. It was demolished 10 years ago - only a gate archway now remains.

Candi 11 at Lembah Bujang, Kedah, a place with 1,200 years of history, was also destroyed to make way for development.

The Bok House, Wong Ah Fook Mansion in Johor and the 101-year old Sri Muneswarar Kaliamman Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur are but a few other examples to explain our ease in destroying history in making way for modern development.

Sometimes the temptation for development is so overwhelming that even buildings that are certified and listed under the National Heritage Act 2005 are not safe from demolition...

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