PHS Heritage Forum: The Sustainability of Local Heritage

A report on the event by Lau Sook Mei
Photos by Jay Kana

Five months later, on Saturday, 16 Oct 2010, the much-anticipated forum finally came. It is an extension of the PHS Enthusiastic Programme held in May.

As early as 8 am, the Committee and volunteers had assembled at the Syuen Hotel to put in the finishing touches.

In the foyer, a display on the proposed revitalization of Kampung Kepayang Sg. Raia was set up. This was the effort of lecturers and students from the Engineering Faculty of the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Kampar.

Display of UTAR Kampar.

Authors Khoo Salma Nasution and Abdur-Razzaq Lubis came up with a pre-launch sale of their latest book, Perak Postcards 1890s-1940s. Apart from the special discount price for the occasion, the lucky ones had their books autographed by the authors.

Another book on sale was Pemuliharaan Bangunan Bersejarah by Siti Norlizaiha Harun et al, published this year by Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM). Written in Bahasa Malaysia, it deals with restoration of historical buildings.

Guests started streaming in at 8.30 am. As the crowd grew, it was time for socializing and catching up with friends. Some took in the display in earnest while others enjoyed browsing the new postcard book; sale was brisk.

All eyes turned to Dato’ Hamidah Osman, Perak State Tourism Committee Chairman when she arrived. She showed great interest in the UTAR display and requested a special session to discuss with the team which worked on it. This must be a great boost to the morale of the students and their lecturers.

Dato' Hamidah commenting on the UTAR display.

Once Dato’ Hamidah was seated, our Hon Sec Sundra, who turned emcee for the day, began the proceedings with words of welcome.

From Left: PHS President Mohd. Taib, Dato' Hamidah and the Deputy Dean of UiTM Perak.

Sundra (right) welcoming the guests.

Then, our President, Mohd Taib gave a rousing speech to a near capacity crowd of 80 participants from governmental agencies, local authorities, heritage NGOs, universities and colleges and the press, as well as individuals with an interest in Perak Heritage.

The President sharing a light moment with all.

Mohd Taib told the audience about our survey of the 165 heritage buildings listed in the book, Landmarks of Perak by Raja Nazrin Shah. He lamented that some were demolished or were found in deplorable condition. So much for our heritage pride!

On ownership, he informed that many heritage properties owners were individuals and community bodies; as such, incentives should be given by the state authority to drive their passion for conservation. It was during the 2011 Budget Dialogue held on 25 Sept 2010 that PHS had proposed the setting up of a fund for heritage conservation. PHS had also asked for a special fund for research, to be managed by the proposed Heritage Council.

An almost full hall.

Mohd Taib informed that the Jabatan Warisan Negara (National Heritage Department) had gazetted 13 heritage buildings in Perak; currently it is preparing the dossier for the listing of Lenggong Valley as an UNESCO World Heritage Archaeological Site. UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. He further explained that the Forum was organized in support of the Perak Tourism Action Plan introduced by Institut Darul Ridzuan, a think-tank for Perak. The focus on “History and Nature” is witnessed by our rich heritage. It is also the objective of the Forum to create awareness to complement the forthcoming workshop on “Heritage and Dangerous Buildings”, to be organized by the local government Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh (MBI).

Dato' Hamidah addressing the crowd.

When the Guest of Honour, Dato’ Hamidah took to the rostrum, she told us that much of our heritage is lost and it is time to stop the destruction. She pressed home the point that besides appreciation we and the local authorities have to LOVE our heritage, and heritage buildings are made more interesting by the stories behind them. To safeguard our heritage, echoing Mohd Taib, teachers, NGOs and local authorities must play a role in creating awareness. We are blessed with nature, culture and heritage, it is now left to be seen how best to map the heritage of Perak and in particular, Ipoh our capital city.

A mock cheque of RM50,000 was presented by Dato’ Hamidah to the Centre for Knowledge and Understanding of Tropical Architecture and Interior (KUTAI) of UiTM Perak, for the documentation of Perak folklore.

Presentation of mock check to KUTAI.

While we had tea break before the Forum proper, the press crowded around Dato’ Hamidah for further comments. Most of the crowd stayed on for the Forum proper. After the Forum, a splendid lunch treat awaited inspired minds. Between mouthfuls, stories were shared. The feedback was very positive.

We must mention that participation at the Forum is free of charge, as the Forum is supported by the State Government.

For the forum proper, read our next blog: Words of Wisdom


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Perak Heritage Society

Persatuan Warisan Perak
(Reg. No. 1254) was registered with the Registrar of Societies in August, 2003.

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