Potential world recognition

Many buildings in KL deserve Unesco listing as heritage sites

I refer to StarMetro’s article “Stopping the rot in KL’s Jalan Raja” dated Feb 26 (pic).

Various stakeholders of Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad were reported to be pushing for its recognition as a Unesco World Heritage Site (WHS).

Getting it is not only good for tourism but will ensure a steady flow of funds to maintain and upkeep the sadly dilapidated building.

In the vicinity are other sites of historical interest, among them Dataran Merdeka, Royal Selangor Club and St Mary’s Cathedral.

These buildings should be put up for WHS recognition too.

Down the road is Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, which certainly ticks all the boxes as a historically significant building.

The iconic Sultan Abdul Samad, Jamek Mosque and Kuala Lumpur’s most successfully gentrified building – Central Market – are both within walking distance.

In nearby Chinatown, Guan Di Temple and Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, both built in the 18th century, would be shoo-ins for WHS recognition.

Other religious buildings that accentuate the multi-religious heritage and beliefs of Malaysians are the century-old St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and St John’s Cathedral.

A short walk away is Taman Eko Rimba Kuala Lumpur – one of the oldest permanent forest reserves, gazetted in 1906.

Behind the forest is the SMK Convent Bukit Nanas established in 1899, with many prominent Malaysians as its past students.

Across Saloma Link is Kampung Baru that makes Kuala Lumpur a standout and unique among cities.

This kampung (village) is a time-machine transporter to the old days of serene and calmer living.

Kampung Baru should not be developed – its cultural, historical and social significance should be preserved in its entirety.

This is a kampung in the city, and without it, Kuala Lumpur would be like any other concrete-and-glass jungle.

Kuala Lumpur Hokkien Cemetery with its rich history would be a novel WHS addition.

It is also one of the biggest green lungs in the city, befitting a serene, tranquil final resting place.

Authorities and stakeholders should use Macau as an example of having an eclectic mix of 30 WHS dotted around the city.

These range from public squares, religious buildings, military barracks and administrative buildings to parks, fortresses and cemetery.

Heritage sites offer alternatives to those who seek the very essence of tourism – history, nature and culture.

It also offers a respite from pure commercial pursuits.

Kuala Lumpur, like Macau, has a colonial and immigrant past which moulded the city and society over many years.

Our historical landmarks must be preserved because they offer a glimpse into the people who lived before us and institutions that changed them and how they, in turn, changed the country.

WHS recognition will ensure the preservation and continuity of these sites for future generations.

Koo Wee Hon

Petaling Jaya

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