KUALA LUMPUR: Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim has invited intellectuals to give their views on the definition of heritage, which is a new and integral component of the ministry.
“Some people say that heritage is all about buildings but I am looking at it from the traditional perspective.
“It encompasses not just buildings but culture, arts, way of life, customs and artefacts that concern patriotism and the country’s development,” he said.
“Therefore, thinkers can start giving their views on what should be included in the new field,” he said at a ceremony where former Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir handed over duties to him at the PWTC yesterday.
Dr Rais said he would concentrate on the various aspects that should be included in the portfolio.
“Give me some time to think about aspects that should be included and look at problems arising from administration, finance and projects within the ministry,” he said.
In his speech earlier, an emotional Kadir, who is now Information Minister, said he was sad to leave the ministry and the staff.
He later told reporters: “Although I sometimes yelled and nagged them, they have produced good results.”
He said the year started off very well as tourist arrivals touched more than 1.4 million in February and about 1.3 million the previous month.
He said splitting the ministry into the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry and Tourism Ministry reflected the wisdom of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as it would allow aspects of culture, arts and heritage as well as tourism to be tackled more effectively.
“Both ministries will have to work closely together to ensure that they will enjoy mutual benefits from their programmes,” he added.
In Penang, Deputy Minister Wong Kam Hoong said the ministry would play a significant role in the state, which has a lot of old and heritage buildings that could be turned into tourist attractions.
“With proper conservation plans, Penang, with its mix historical of Malay, Chinese and Indian culture along with the colonial buildings can be turned into a historical city just like Malacca,” he said during a visit to the Supertanker Hawker Centre in Taman Lip Sin.
Wong said the ministry would also work on restoration efforts to give a new lease of life to historical structures and monuments.