Historical Buildings in Disrepair
Statement from Elizabeth Cardosa, President, Badan Warisan Malaysia
It is the responsibility of building owners to ensure the maintenance, management and care of their properties so they are in good condition, safe, comfortable to use and habitable.
We have many laws and guidelines which regulate this and there are penalties which can be imposed if uninhabited buildings are left to ruin, potentially raising concerns of public safety.
In the case of buildings such as the former FMS Survey Office which has been gazetted as “heritage” on the National Heritage Register, there may be additional regulations which are imposed by Jabatan Warisan Negara who are custodians of this Register.
Section 42 of the National Heritage Act 2005 states that it is the duty of the owner of a heritage site to keep it in a state of good repair and that the National Heritage Commissioner can take steps to ensure that this is complied to, and in keeping with the heritage values of the building.
While we may want to know who is responsible, or how this sad state of affairs has come about, it is more pressing to have an urgent action plan to bring the relevant parties together to stop further deterioration and put the building back in good repair. It would be timely for the responsible authorities to work with heritage NGOs and other stakeholders to initiate a management regime to prevent this from happening to other heritage buildings, especially public/government owned buildings.