KUALA LUMPUR: The heritage status of the Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC) and Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman here where the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong was installed and the first Parliament was held, will be preserved.
Clarifying the issue, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the ministry was only seeking to revoke the heritage status of parts of MaTiC’s immediate vicinity which included the Lanai field, front yard and adjacent parking space to enable development.
“We only want to change the status of some sections. We will not touch MaTiC and the Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman due to its rich history,’’ Nazri said yesterday.
Conservation groups had expressed surprise and concern over what they understood was a move to revoke the heritage status of both buildings located in Jalan Ampang.
They were responding to a notice published in several newspapers on Dec 28, on both sites being stripped of their heritage status.
The notice, issued by Heritage Commis-sioner Dr Zainah Ibrahim, listed the sites as “Lot 45 Section 58, Lot 139 Section 58, and part of Lot 158 Section 57, The Old Building of Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC).”
Heritage of Malaysia Trust president Elizabeth Cardosa said there was no provision in the National Heritage Act for the revocation of a heritage site gazette.
“Unless the Act is amended to enable this, it is questionable if the commissioner has the power to revoke a heritage site which has already been gazetted and if that is so, this revocation is ultra vires the Act,” she said.
Nazri said the ministry was planning new developments there, including building a hotel.
“It will be a waste if we do not fully utilise the area. We cannot classify the field and the parking area as a heritage site.
“On the proposed hotel, we will set strict guidelines in that the architecture and design must be the same as the surrounding heritage buildings,’’ he added.
The main MaTic building, originally the house of wealthy businessman Eu Tong Seng, became a centre for many social activities in Kuala Lumpur in the pre-World War II days.
During the war, it was used by the British and Japanese armies as a war office.
In 1956, the building was acquired by the government of Malaya. The building sits on a 2.6ha plot which was formerly an orchard.