Colonial buildings‘ ownership puzzle

THERE seems to be some confusion as to who the more-than-a-century-old heritage property Carcosa Seri Negara belongs to, with two ministries claiming ownership.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry issued a press statement saying that the land belonged to the Federal Government and comes under the purview of the Federal Land Commissioner.

However, another statement by National Heritage Department (JWN) said Federal Territories Ministry was responsibile for the site.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said in his ministry’s statement that the buildings would be tenanted by a Malaysian social enterprise called Asian Heritage Museum Sdn Bhd for an Artefacts Trading and Performing Arts (ATP) Centre.

“The purpose of the tenancy includes Asian martial arts display, galleries for promoting the multicultural heritage and national integration of Sarawak and Sabah as well as an educational history tour of the place.

“The ATP Centre aims to be a world-class and international Asian artefacts trading and performing arts centre of excellence,” said Dr Wan Junaidi.

He added that to capitalise on the buildings’ heritage value, various engagements had taken place with several government agencies to explore the best way to move forward.

Carcosa and Seri Negara were recognised by JWN and gazetted as a National Heritage building under the National Heritage Act 645 (2005) in 2011.

“A decision was taken to rent out Carcosa Seri Negara to a genuine pro-heritage Malaysian group promoting heritage activities and with the fullest respect for the heritage status of the buildings,” the minister said in the statement.

He assured that the heritage status of the two buildings would be preserved.

“The tenancy will be terminated immediately if they do not comply with the conditions stated in the offer letter.

“Any renovation and structural alterations which affect their heritage building status shall not be allowed by the Government.

“These buildings are not in good condition now because they have been left abandoned too long after the previous lease expired.

“Through this tenancy agreement, we believe these buildings will be preserved and conserved to reflect the site’s heritage status,” Wan Junaidi said.

To further assure that the status of the site remains intact as a National Heritage Site, the Natural Resources ministry has been appointed as its honorary advisor.

Meanwhile, JWN said a series of meetings was held with the Federal Territories Ministry and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to submit proposals on conserving Carcosa Seri Negara.

“We have submitted all the necessary documents such as Guidelines for Building Conservation Heritage and Conservation Management Plan (CMP) to DBKL as references for submissions for Request For Proposal.

“JWN has no objections to the redevelopment of the site as it is in accordance with the provisions of Section 46 (1) of the National Heritage Act which states that in the preparation of the CMP, aspects of rehabilitation, restoration or reconstruction of a heritage site is encouraged,” it said in its statement.

It added that all development at Carcosa Seri Negara must be referred to the Heritage Commissioner for review.

“DBKL is looking to appoint a consultant conservator. Carcosa Seri Negara has potential to become a hub for heritage tourism and should be conserved in accordance with the provisions of the Act to be enjoyed by generations to come,” JWN said.

StarMetro had previously reported that DBKL’s proposal of turning the Carcosa Seri Negara into a tourist attraction might be dashed should a private company succeed in leasing the colonial mansion.

“We were surprised too, but we were hoping the original plan to turn it into a hotel would be maintained,” he said, adding that it was one of Kuala Lumpur’s treasures,” DBKL executive director (Planning) Datuk Mohd Najib Mohd had said.

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