Archive for November, 2015

PHS GOES TO SAWAHLUNTO

By Law Siak Hong
PANSUMNET GATHERING 2015
Conference and Workshop: Industrial Heritage at Stake
22nd– 24th October 2015, Sawahlunto, West Sumatra

conference20venue20city20cultural20centre20with20fountain120digit20serial20numberweb_zpso9gmljkz

City Cultural Centre: the conference venue

A confession: before the invitation to speak at the conference, I had never heard of Sawahlunto. So, google I did. I learned quickly that it is in West Sumatra, not far from Padang, and it is already tentatively listed as UNESCO world heritage for its authentic historical urban landscape and the industrial heritage of coal mining. For universal significance, they fall in with Criteria (ii) and (iv). It also boasts a contented community: it has the second lowest poverty rate among cities in Indonesia. The people are steeped in cultural history, homegrown and yet well-adjusted to contemporary sensibilities.

wayang20kulit20img_162820800x600120digit20serial20numberweb_zpsvoh8cqiewkf20lidi20lantern20master20and20his20work120digit20serial20numberweb_zpsfpc2muoswkf20stage20tent120digit20serial20numberweb_zpshxhxqcitwkf20image20of20stage202120digit20serial20numberweb_zpsj1e54dwywkf20billboard20featuring20the20mayor20and20his20deputy120digit20serial20numberweb_zpszjh4tpqnin20the20shadow20of20giant120digit20serial20numberweb_zps7vqhbhmn

The Wayang Kulit Festival Sawahlunto 2015 was on and we caught some of the action after the evening conference session.

Built not only along hairpin roads hugging the hillside, houses and other buildings also line the river banks. Bridges link the various parcels of land, which are shored up by concrete embankments, engineered to impede erosion. Workers quarters are provided by the mining company and they exist now as kampongs in the city. Most of the historical institutional and commercial buildings, relatively small in size, date from early 20th century. Then, there is the viaduct for rail and road, and the triple silos fed by a conveyor belt riding on a tall, skeletal steel structure. They are huge, yet they melt into the landscape confidently. Get up close and you will realize the power of these industrial structures.

kota20sawahlunto20bridge20over20the20towns20river120digit20serial20numberweb_zpskoevckzw

Kota Sawahlunto, bridge over the town’s river

kota20sawalunto20homes20on20the20slopes120digit20serial20numberweb_zpsuo9qv1td

Kota Sawalunto, homes on the slopes

ks20street20scene120digit20serial20numberweb_zpsvylqbqvy

Kota Sawahlunto street scene

ks20triple20silos20and20conveyor20belt20structure20and20vip20tent20for20wkf120digit20serial20numberweb_zpsjkejjplp

Kota Sawahlunto triple silos and conveyor belt structure and vip tent for Wayang Kulit Festival.

former20mayor20pak20amran20nur20addressing20the20conference120digit20serial20numberweb_zps2jzhezku

Former mayor Pak Amran Nur addressing the conference

Started in 1887, coal mining ceased in 2000. People left and the district went into decline. Along came Mayor Bapak Amran Nur (2003-2013), now Director of Indonesian Heritage Trust. Pondering on his hometown’s fate, he began to restructure its economy and effectively eradicated poverty and improved welfare through healthcare and education. To prevent land degradation, he donated rubber and cocoa seeds, even fertilizer, to the people for cultivation and long term income. Small and exotic museums were set up, indigenous performing arts were developed, and tourist spots were generated. In a few years, he turned this beautiful verdant Minangkabau valley into a tourist destination. Already, tourism contributes one-third of the city’s income. But what is the sustainable number of tourists for this constricted valley? If the UNESCO inscription happens, more hotels and eateries will be needed. How would its cultural identity and that all-important “sense of place” survive under the pressure of tourism development?

With the theme of Industrial Heritage at Stake, Sawahlunto is a choice host for this Pansumnet Gathering. The conference attracted over 70 participants from Pansumnet and speakers from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Bandung and Jakarta (Java), and, of course, Sumatra. Led by our president, Mohd Taib Mohamed, the delegation of seven from the Perak Heritage Society arrived in thick smog, which registered an API of 1000, way above the health hazard level of 150! Despite that, clearly, each of us took home memories and knowledge beyond our expectations.

ks20cross20cultural20edifice120digit20serial20numberweb_zpseb3mpzu61ks20row20of20shops20back20to20the20river120digit20serial20numberweb_zpspgfsudcs1ks20coal20mine20co20hq20kota20sawahlunto120digit20serial20numberweb_zps98mi0kj41ks20st20lucia20church120digit20serial20numberweb_zpssxkstsmy1

Group caption: While sessions were held indoor, walking to and fro the hotel and the conference venue took us to the street.

Through this encounter with Sumatra, my understanding of its cultural and industrial heritage made a quantum leap. Deeply rooted in culture, Sumatrans are warm and friendly; smiles are everywhere. In Sawahlunto, even boys and young men cruising by on motorbike would greet me with a respectful “pak”.

Sawahlunto awaits a new designation as world heritage. Go visit soon.

speaking20to20the20gathering20of20heritage20lovers120digit20serial20numberweb_zpsve2vhx86

Gathering of heritage lovers.


Postscript: PANSUMNET is the acronym for Pan-Sumatra Network for Heritage Conservation. Our heartfelt thanks to: Sawahlunto Municipality, Pansumnet and Heritage Hands-On, joint organisers of Pansumnet Gathering 2015; the convener, Hasti Tarekat; the deputy mayor of Sawahlunto, and all the participants. A special mention: Pak Asdian of SEMEN PADANG, for his warm hospitality and the privilege of witnessing the SP Journalist Award at Basko Hotel in Padang.

semen20padang20the20oldest20cement20plant20in20southeast20asia201905-200520some20views20of20the20facilities20targetted20for20adaptive20reuse20t_zpsaoehmt5kpc220800x600120digit20serial20numberweb_zpsrzaeew1xpc320800x575120digit20serial20numberweb_zpsalrmxjqupc420600x800120digit20serial20numberweb_zpsu5ytvcaxpc520800x593120digit20serial20numberweb_zps3j4mu90fpc720800x600120digit20serial20numberweb_zpszka0pinw

Post conference site visit: in Padang, a special treat awaited. Built by the Dutch in 1905, SEMEN PADANG is the oldest cement plant in Southeast Asia. As technology advanced and plants were built, the old one was abandoned. University groups were invited to study the site and plan adaptive re-use, to turn them into public facilities.
phs20delegation20to20sawahlunto120digit20serial20numberweb_zpsa3hyi7n9

PHS delegation to Sawahlunto

 


Perak Heritage Society

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

Office and Postal Address:
85C, Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil,
30300 IPOH, Perak, Malaysia.
(opposite the Syuen Hotel)

Fax: 05-253 5507

E-mail:
perakheritage36@gmail.com
Website: https://perakheritage.wordpress.com

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 119 other followers

Perak Map

map,Perak

DISCLAIMER

All data and information provided on this blog site is solely for informational purposes.

PHS makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, topicality or validity of any information found here and will not be liable for any error, omission or delay in posting this information, or any loss, injury, or damage arising from its use or display.

All information is provided as-is. We reserve the right to review and reject any comment deemed unsuitable for general public reading.

COPYRIGHT

© 2010 Perak Heritage Society
All articles and images featured are the property of the Perak Heritage Society, except where noted.

Please acknowledge and credit PHS for any material taken from our blog.

For commercial applications: To copy, download or use any text or image file, you will need our permission. Contact us before you take them.