KUCHING: Development plans for the historic parts of Sarawak’s towns should be put forward for public consultation before being implemented, the Sarawak Heritage Society said.
Its president Karen Shepherd said public consultation was key to preserving heritage sites for everyone, including the residents.
She applauded the state government for starting to push forward an application for listing Kuching as a heritage city under Unesco and urged the public to be involved in the process.
“For any listing, one of the main requirements from Unesco is community involvement and this is where you all come in,” she said at the launch of an exhibition of sketches of heritage buildings organised by the society and Urban Sketchers Kuching yesterday.
Shepherd said it was important to preserve heritage because it represented the story of a society and the lives of its people.
She also said preservation and progress should live side by side to provide continuity from the past to the present and future.
“To be honest, a lot of people are put off the idea of heritage because of the word old. What about modernity? What about business? What about progress and development?
“Surely there must be some balance between progress and preservation and the first step is to identify what is worth saving,” she said.
On the exhibition, Shepherd said the Urban Sketchers’ work showcased unique views of the state’s cultural heritage.
“This group shares the society’s love of Kuching and Sarawak’s urban landscape. Their work immortalises the story and images of Kuching, thereby raising awareness of it and preserving it for future generations.”
The Chief Minister’s wife Puan Sri Jamilah Anu, who launched the exhibition, said heritage preservation was an investment worth taking, not only for historic and aesthetic values but its potential to attract tourists.
“Our people, those in the tourism industy in particular, must learn to turn our local heritage into valuable assets of our economy,” she said.
Commending the society and Urban Sketchers for putting the exhibition, she hoped that it would encourage the younger generation to cultivate an interest in their local heritage.
The week-long exhibition at the Old Courthouse in Main Bazaar here is open to the public starting Nov 24 from 9am to 5pm.