Hajiji: Iconic buildings to be restored to preserve Sabah's heritage

KOTA KINABALU: Iconic buildings here are set to be restored in an effort to preserve Sabah’s heritage and historical sites, says Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.

The Chief Minister said this includes the old welfare office in the city, which was once the British North Borneo Chartered Company office building.

This structure was destroyed in a fire and would be turned into an art gallery if plans to restore it go as planned, he added.

Hajiji said the restoration was part of the Sabah integrated cultural mapping system development project.

“Funding of RM2mil has been allocated for the mapping system while RM200,000 has been set aside for the study of the old welfare office restoration project.

“The mapping system is to transform the management of information regarding Sabah’s ethnic cultures from the old way to a modern and digital form,” he said at the Bajausama Cultural Festival in Tuaran near here on Wednesday (Feb 28).

He said the mapping system is set to see the redevelopment or restoration of the British North Borneo Chartered Company (later turned into a welfare office), which was destroyed in a fire many years ago.

“The plan is to preserve the historical site and turn the building into a cultural art gallery that would boost Sabah’s efforts to protect and nurture its cultural heritage,” he said.

The Sabah Cultural Board will be given these two jobs, he said, adding that these are part of initiatives to diversify and expand the state's tourism products to attract three million tourist arrivals this year.

Other than cultural and art tourism, community-based products such as eco-tourism are gaining momentum among local and international travellers, Hajiji said.

He urged local ethnic associations to push for their own cultural programmes and developments in this effort, and develop community-based tourism in their own localities.

He also urged Sabahans to turn the state's unique cultural and ethnic diversity into a vital asset.

On the Bajausama Festival which started on Sunday (Feb 25), he hoped it can be a medium for people to come together and at the same time, encourage the youth to be more active in arts and culture.

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