KUALA LUMPUR: The historical Stadium Merdeka here was given the “Award of Excellence” in the 2008 Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation after successfully being restored to its full glory.
Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the award meant a lot more than just celebrating its restoration as the stadium was where nationhood was proclaimed and represented national unity.
The award was presented to Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) chairman and Badan Warisan Nasional Malaysia president Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid by Unesco special adviser to the deputy director general of culture Richard A. Engelhardt.
The ceremony was witnessed by Shafie at the stadium yesterday.
PNB bought over the stadium in 2000 and has since cooperated with Badan Warisan Nasional to carry out preservation efforts on the iconic landmark.
“I appeal to those in the private sector to take initiatives to help preserve other heritage sites in Malaysia,” he said, adding that the move would be a useful corporate social responsibility programme.
Asked to comment on the multi-lingual signboards in Penang which were vandalised, Shafie said the ministry had expected it to happen.
“The issue shouldn’t have been played up in the political arena in the first place,” he said.
Shafie said that when he was on the official visit to Uzbekistan with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi recently, he hardly understood the language and had trouble getting around.
“But as tourists, we should take the initiative to learn the local language,” he added.