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Hindraf calls for all sites in Bujang valley identified and gazetted.

candiHindraf appreciates the swift action taken by the Kedah Menteri Besar in issuing the stop work order and call by the Tourism and Culture Ministry into gazetting Lembah Valley as a National Heritage but beg to differ on the concern of the Kedah MB that the effort is infeasible as it would involve tens of millions ringgit. 

There should be no compromise on the protection of our National heritage. There are also funding available from the United Nations. Although United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) in 1987 was ready to provide the funding with co-operation from the Federal government, nothing had been forthcoming in planning and implementation of the Master plan that should have been mooted by the National Heritage Department. Besides the funding from UNDP, our very own Heritage Act 2005 has the necessary provision under the Heritage Fund for such purpose. Besides this, World Heritage Fund also provides monetary assistance.   Hindraf is puzzled as to why is the Heritage Commissioner is silent on the various questions raised on his responsibility to protect these sites.

Recent discovery of jetties dating back to BC487 in Bujang Valley and the similarity in the bricks and smelting systems with the Gandhara area in Kashmir which was a part of the Indus Valley civilization as asserted by Centre for Global Archaeological Research (CGAR) of USM – Prof Dr. Mokhtar Saidin further reaffirms why all sites in Bujang Valley needs to be identified and gazetted.   

As it stands now it appears only 17 tomb temples (Candi) has been registered when there are more 127 sites and 90 other candis identified.   

A detailed report on conservation and preservation of the Bujang Valley has been initiated by UNESCO in 1987, but unfortunately the National Heritage Department had not been proactive in pursuing to conserve and safeguard such sites.  
Therefore any issue relating cost should not be any issue at all. There should be proactive efforts from the Heritage Commissioner to preserve such a historic archaeological site.

The report by UNESCO was quite meticulously prepared and recommended the government to create a National Historical Park in Bujang Valley sprawling over 400 sq kilometer with a view to protecting, preserving and presenting the archaeological sites found therein and thereby creating a national as well as an international tourist attraction.

UNESCO made those recommendations to preserve it as the site clearly fulfills the basic criteria to be listed under the World Heritage List.  

The Bujang Valley is internationally recognized as the oldest and richest archaeological area in Malaysia and therefore in the interest of the nation, we urge the National Heritage Department to immediately initiate the necessary action plans to revisit the UNESCO report that was done in 1987 and carry out the steps to protect the cultural heritage of Malaysia.

The National Heritage Department which has all the necessary authority vested onto them by the Heritage Act 2005 should work in tandem with the Federal government and the state government swiftly in delineating the boundaries, acquiring such sites, gazetting them and taking all appropriate actions to avoid such a mishap that had occurred recently in relation to Candi 11.  They can start by initiating a Heritage Steering Committee consisting of personnel from the National Heritage Department, local government, federal government as well as independent expert members.

The Heritage Steering Committee should cover all aspects of Heritage management plan, implementation and making the relevant recommendation including introduction of appropriate protection measures in planning policies in response to potential threat like change of land use, housing development and other activities.        

Thank you.

P. Waytha Moorthy
Chairman