KUCHING: The state government should set up a unit or department to look after heritage conservation, said the Sarawak Heritage Society (SHS).
Its president Datuk Seri Robert Jacob Ridu said heritage conservation and management required clearly spelt out and coordinated policy, strategy, regulatory, institutional and financial frameworks.
“To be effective, cultural heritage management needs to be fully incorporated in the planning process in addition to economic, social and environmental considerations.
“The government needs appropriate laws, regulations and policies in place, such as providing financial incentives or assistance for property owners to keep their old buildings,” he said. While there is no longer an assistant minister in charge of heritage in the state Cabinet, Jacob said it was important to maintain the role of heritage conservation in the government.
“I hope they only delete the name but not the function of heritage conservation. We need to have someone to mind this matter in government,” he said.
Jacob said SHS would like to see a strengthened policy, regulatory, financing and enforcement framework on heritage conservation from the government.
He said this included stronger enforcement of existing building and heritage regulations as well as budget allocations to maintain government-owned heritage sites, provide financial support to selected heritage conservation projects and provide financial incentives to owners of private built heritage to conserve and maintain their assets.
Jacob also called for greater public awareness and encouragement to grassroots initiatives which promote the value of heritage protection.
“We want to get various stakeholders to be aware of protecting our heritage and inculcate a sense of appreciation to ensure that we all keep our heritage assets,” he said.