With the formation of the National Heritage Department through National Heritage Act 2005 (Act 645), non-governmental organisations like us seem redundant. The same fate has fallen on Badan Warisan Malaysia, its voice becomes stifled. Yet, PHS and NGOs like us have remained relevant.
Other than the National Heritage Act 2005, there are legislations that cover heritage matters in Malaysia. The Town and Country Planning Act 1976 (Act 172) and Local Government Act 1976 (Act 171) both emphasize heritage preservation. However, along the way, in implementations, they slip up.
In Ipoh, there are 25 buildings/monuments/sites which are gazetted as “state” heritage through the Local Government Act 1976. However, to date, only a handful has been listed as national heritage under the National Heritage Act.
On 8th September 1999, through the Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan, that is, state exco meeting (No. 1348), the Perak state government declared Taiping a heritage town. Only a handful of its “33 firsts” have been listed as national heritage under The National Heritage Act 2005, and some of them have fallen to the ground. Recently, when Taiping launched the Taiping Heritage Trail, prominence was given to two electric buses donated by the Japanese government rather than the sites; the buses will provide transport to tourists on the route.
In Karai, the Victoria railway bridge will suffer the same fate of neglect. I have witnessed at least three events organised at the site, yet no effort has been taken to preserve it under The National Heritage Act although officers from National Heritage Department were present at the events.
Last year, PHS was consulted on Ipoh’s heritage by both MBI (Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh) and the Department of Town And Country Planning Malaysia. Sadly, we have not been informed on the outcome.
The old issue of vandalism at the pre-historic rock art at Gunung Panjang, Tambun was exposed by the Malay Mail recently. We have yet to see action by the relevant authorities.
There is a tree preservation order under the Town and Country Planning Act. The National Landscape Department has documented heritage trees under Tree Inventory System (2008-2010). Trees that are more than 30 years old would be preserved, and 1,220 heritage trees in Perak have been listed. As such, the Ipoh tree (near Ipoh Railway Station) is value at RM123,735.60; Pokok Hujan-Hujan along Jalan Seenivasagam Ipoh, 120-years-old, at RM1,301,900.98 and those at Taiping Lake Garden which are 125-years-old have been rated at RM1,068,712.84.
PHS acknowledges the initiative from the private sector, including Town House Museum in Taiping and Han Chin Pet Soo in Ipoh by Ipohworld. I hope that there will be more private initiatives and that the state authorities will give them due recognition.
Lately I have rendered help to two PhD candidates, three Master degree students and one undergraduate on their theses, all of them relate to heritage. I was appointed as “Felo Industries” by Politeknik Sultan Idris Shah in Sabak Bernam, Selangor for 2014-2016.
I would like to thank all members of the PHS community for their support in making PHS relevant to the struggle to preserve our heritage.