More historical buildings to be preserved

Abang Johari (left) looking at Sarawakian songket costumes after closing the Sarawakiana Carnival at the State Library in Kuching. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE / The Star

KUCHING: Old buildings in the state will be preserved as heritage buildings if they are found to have historical and cultural value, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said.

He said buildings with unique architectural and cultural features would be studied by the state Museum Department.

“When we find that a building is rich in historical value, we will declare it a heritage building and it will be managed together by the owner and the museum,” he told reporters after closing the Sarawakiana Carnival at the State Library here.

Abang Johari said one potential building was a 160-year-old house in Buso, Bau, about 30km from here.

“The house is built from wood and has fine carvings and interesting features, including its stairs and railing. I have directed the museum to look into making it a heritage building,” he said.

In addition, he said Buso would be turned into a heritage site similar to the nearby Siniawan bazaar.

“As a heritage neighbourhood, it will be preserved and become a visitor attraction showcasing the history, culture and lifestyle of its local community.

“We do not want modernisation to come to Buso but we will modernise its infrastructure. We want Buso to be a village which retains its culture and history,” he said.

In his speech earlier, Abang Johari said Sarawak was rich in cultural heritage, even in small places like Buso and Siniawan.

He said Buso had the potential to be transformed into a heritage township as it had century-old shoplots with unique architectural features.

“We have already done this in Siniawan, which was the first Chinese settlement in Sarawak. In the past, Siniawan was not a place that visitors would go to. But now it is full of visitors every weekend.

“It started with only RM40,000 assistance from the government but the people there are very resourceful and today, Siniawan has become a must-visit place,” he said.

He added that Siniawan was also a place where the Chinese, Bidayuh and Malay communities lived together in harmony, besides having James Brooke’s historic bungalow nearby.

“When tourists go to Siniawan they can see the interaction between the various communities there. We can be a model of peace and harmony to the world,” he said.

Abang Johari also said the state government was keen to preserve and promote Sarawak’s arts and culture.

He said this was why Tourism Ministry, which he heads, was expanded after the May 7 state election to incorporate arts and culture as well.

“This is our approach because in order to develop, we need to look at our background and use our strong cultural heritage as a source for us to move forward,” he said.

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