Preserving more than just buildings

Abdul Karim (third from right) unveiling the Kuching old bazaar cultural mapping and tourism promotion programme at Carpenter Street. With him are the ministry’s permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee (second from right) and representatives from the Kuching Old Market Community Association.

KUCHING: The old bazaar area in Kuching’s city centre will be preserved as a heritage attraction in a community-led initiative.

State Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the initiative would include cultural mapping and tourism promotion of the area, which is bordered by Jalan Main Bazaar, Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg and Jalan Green Hill and includes Carpenter Street.

“The old bazaar area, which has been there for more than 100 years, has about 200 traditional shophouses.

It is one of the first commercial sites in Kuching.

“We want to have it preserved, just like Singapore’s Chinatown, Georgetown in Penang and Jonker Walk in Melaka.

“It’s not just about the buildings, we also want to preserve the businesses that have been going on in the area for many years, such as the tinsmiths and goldsmiths,” he said after a soft launch of the Kuching old bazaar cultural mapping and tourism promotion programme here.

The five-month-old programme is undertaken by the Kuching Old Market Community Association with the ministry’s support.

It is expected to be completed by Chap Goh Mei next year.

Abdul Karim said the cultural mapping of the area aimed at compiling its intangible heritage by recording oral history from residents and collecting historical records and photos.

“This in-depth study will be conducted in collaboration with researchers, historians and universities in Sarawak,” he said.

Information from the cultural mapping will then be used to create and promote a brand called “Kuching Old Bazaar” for the area, with historical booklets, tourism brochures and production of promotional videos.

The initiative will also look into creating more heritage events for the area in addition to the annual Intercultural Mooncake Festival at Carpenter Street.

“Starting next year, we want to highlight the goddess parades from two temples in this area and create heritage tourism events such as treasure hunts and old bazaar sales campaigns concurrent with major events in Kuching,” Abdul Karim said.

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