ALOR SETAR: The Kedah Museum Department will send its officers to the Grand Palace in Bangkok to take a closer look at Bunga Emas (Gold Flowers) and Bunga Perak (Silver Flowers) that were presented as gifts or tributes by the Kedah Sulatan to the Siamese King from 1821 to 1906
The tributes were first sent during the rule of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Halim Shah II, the 22nd Sultan of Kedah, to the Siamese monarch then.
Throughout the period, a total of 32 pairs of bunga emas and perak were sent to Thailand, each about 1.5m tall and are believed to be kept in the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
Department director Suhaidi Shukri said the department had contacted Malaysian Embassy in Bangkok for help to enter the Grand Palace.
He said the group would visit Bangkok from Dec 20 to Dec 23 and would be accompanied by state Youth, Sports, Arts, Heritage and Culture Committee chairman Dr Hamdan Mohamed Khalib.
“Our purpose is learn more about the history of the flowers and also to look at other historical items relating to the state and Thailand,” he said when contacted on Tuesday.
Suhaidi said this when commenting on statement by Dr Hamdan that the museum would seek the cooperation of Wisma Putra for the return of the flowers.
Dr Hamdan had said a total 28 gold flowers were sent to the Thai King in Bangkok as a sign of friendship and friendly relations between Kedah and Thailand.
Suhaidi said he was told that the golden flowers were being closely guarded and visitors must have permission to look at them.
He said that the department would submit a proposal to Unesco to declare Bunga Emas as a shared heritage between Thailand and Kedah.
On Sunday, state Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang said it was unethical for the state government to seek the return of the gifts.
He said that the image of the state government and the people would be tarnished if the state insisted on the return of the gifts.
Dr Hamdan had said the issue was brought up during a seminar on the Bunga Emas recently, attended by history professors from Malaysia and Thailand.
Kelantan also wants to get back the bunga emas so that it could be exhibited in the state some three years ago.
The golden flowers or ufti came about when the northern part of the peninsula was under the control of Thailand (Siam).
The Malay rulers were required to send a tribute in the form of golden flowers to the King of Siam each year but the practise was stopped after the arrival of the British.