Real gems in a concrete jungle

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 24 Jul 2005

KUCHING: Old buildings in rural areas and historical buildings in cities are facing greater danger of being lost to development, said Heritage of Malaysia Trust president Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid. 

Many of these buildings, which has a long history, exquisite architecture and character, were marginalised in the process of development. 

“Their neglect has led to decay and dilapidation,” said Ahmad Sarji at the presentation of a National Heritage Award here yesterday. 

Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud received the award. 

The Sarawak Tourism Complex, previously known as Kuching's Old Court House Complex, won the National Heritage Award 2004 for its efforts to preserve the cultural and architectural history.  

The more than century-old complex, which was once the White Rajah’s office, had been restored and turned into the Sarawak Tourism Complex under an RM18mil conservation project. 

Ahmad Sarji expressed disappointment that the “Rumah Helang” in Johor, which was built in the 1920s but never completed, and highlighted as a tourism product, was recently demolished to give way to a new building. 

“We should look upon historical buildings as assets rather than liabilities because they represent the histories of our communities through their architecture in an urban form,” he said. 

He commended the restoration of the Old Courthouse project, which he said, exhibited a rare uniqueness as it related to the city town planning besides its historical values. 

“The thorough documentation of the entire project has set a standard for future projects throughout the country,” he added. 

Taib said Sarawak had restored nearly all the historical forts, including in Sri Aman and Marudi, and other historical buildings and sites. 

He also announced a RM100,000 grant to the state Tourism and Urban Development Ministry to set up the proposed Sarawak Heritage Society as suggested by Ahmad Sarji.  

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