Melaka heritage site in a state of neglect

MELAKA: The ruins of Ermida do Rosario (Church of the Rosary), a heritage site here, has been left in a state of neglect.

The site near Sungai Melaka was a Portuguese chapel and is located in the heart of the historic city, not far from other historical sites.

The site was either destroyed or allowed to fall into ruin during the Dutch occupation of Melaka in 1641 and was subsequently taken over by St Peter's Church.

The site got the attention of then-chief minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron in 2017 after a former local councillor, Joseph Sta Maria, highlighted the sad state of the ruins to The Star.

This led to prompt action by former Melaka Museum Corporation (Perzim) general manager Datuk Khamis Abbas, who fenced up the site and placed a sign explaining some of its background.

However, a check on Sunday (Feb 5) night found that the site has been left to deteriorate and the surroundings are unlit.

The sign placed by Perzim has also been damaged.

A 10-minute observation of the site found those gathering at the river walkway were not aware of the site's history.

A visitor, Eric Tan, said the site looked like an "abandoned construction area".

"I didn't know it was a Portuguese ruin – until now," he said.

Perzim general manager Fadhilah Md Salleh said the ruins sit on private land and were under the purview of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Melaka-Johor.

She said Perzim was willing to do its part to preserve and promote the site if a request is made by the custodian of the site.

"We are willing to work together with stakeholders to preserve the site and other historical icons," she said on Monday (Feb 6).

Fadhilah said she was planning to visit all historical sites in the state and get feedback from community leaders to conserve them.

Meanwhile, Save The Portuguese Action Committee chairman Martin Theseira urged the state government to set up a heritage watch group to act as an advisory team to Perzim on historical sites.

He said the watch group should have the participation of all the communities in the state and could function collectively to sustain local history and traditions.

"The site has strong tourism value if we can rehabilitate and preserve it as a heritage site.

"We need a joint working team in an effort to preserve such heritage sites," he added.

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