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Don’t forsake Lembah Bujang

Candi no. 11 in Sungai Batu before it was demolished in 2013.

Candi no. 11 in Sungai Batu before it was demolished in 2013.

THE historical complex of Lembah Bujang (Bujang Valley) in Kedah should be given priority to become a Unesco World Heritage Site, said Datuk V. Nadarajan (pic), the author of ‘Bujang Valley: The Wonder that was Ancient Kedah’.

It was announced by the Tourism and Culture Ministry that an initiative has been carried out to obtain Unesco World Heritage Site status for three more places in Malaysia.

The areas include the Royal Belum State Park in Gerik, the Quartz Ridge of Gombak, and the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia.

Nadarajan said important site like Bujang Valley should not be forsaken in the shortlisting.

Datuk V.Nadarajan believes that the Tourism and Culture Ministry should submit Lembah Bujang as a potential UNESCO World Heritage Site as soon as possible.ZAHID IZZANI/THE STAR

“The question is why is Lembah Bujang being left out?

“It is one of the first Malay kingdoms, and is around 2,000 years old,” he said.

Nadarajan has been fighting for the protection and recognition of Lembah Bujang for a long time.

Kedah’s Lembah Bujang is known for its numerous age-old candis (tomb temples), ancient Hindu-Buddhist structures, as well as historical artefacts.

Pilot M. Palaniandy (second left), 39, visiting the site where candi number 11 was removed with his family members in Kuala Muda district. at the site where the candi number 11 was destroyed. Pic by Gary Chen. December 4, 2013.
A developer who claimed ignorance of its historical significance. — filepic

However, Candi no.11 was knocked down by a land developer in 2013, claiming that they did not know it was a historical building.

“The whole Lembah Bujang area must be properly protected to prevent such an incident from recurring.

“It has been four years, but still nothing has been done to declare the valley a World Heritage Site,” said Nadarajan.

He said that samples from Sungai Batu, a small section in Lembah Bujang, had been sent for testing in Korea and Florida by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Archeological Department.

The findings resulted in the possibility of Sungai Batu being declared a World Heritage Site in a conference in Sungai Petani last year.

“They could also send in samples from other parts of Lembah Bujang together if that was the case.

“Sungai Batu itself is a small area and there’s more to Lembah Bujang that must be protected,” said Nadarajan.

In 1987, Unesco had sent a team from Paris to research Lembah Bujang, and even produced a report urging the Malaysian Government to list the valley as a heritage site.

“A report has been made, and extensive research can be done to determine the site’s exact chroma-tic age,” Nadarajan said.

He suggested that the Lembah Bujang Museum in Merbok and Pengkalan Bujang should be included with Sungai Batu in the submissions.

“I have nothing against Sungai Batu being declared, but include the other two places too.

“It’s not just Sungai Batu that is rich in artefacts,” sighed Nadarajan.

Currently, there are five places officially listed as Unesco World Heritage Sites in Malaysia — Lenggong Valley, Gunung Mulu National Park, Kinabalu Park, Melaka, and Georgetown.

“We request that the Tourism Ministry submit Lembah Bujang alongside the other submissions.

“They shouldn’t delay this anymore,” said Nadarajan.