Statement by Badan Warisan Malaysia on the Revocation of Heritage Site status of MaTIC by Jabatan Warisan Malaysia
The notification in the NST on 28 December 2016 from Jabatan Warisan Negara (JWN) to revoke the designation of the “Old Building of Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTIC)” as a heritage site raises many concerns and issues.
Law does not Provide for Revocation of Heritage Site Status
First, the section 31 (2) of the National Heritage Act 2005 (Act 645) which was cited in the Notice describes the process for designation of a heritage site. It does not deal with revocation of a gazetted site. And we understand that this site which comprises Lots 45 and 139 (Section 58) and part of Lot 158 (Section 57) was gazetted (Gazette Number P.U. (B) 290) as “Warisan” on the National Heritage Register on 16 June 2016. The criteria for listing specified in documents from JWN refers to its historical importance as well as its architectural and aesthetic character.
The National Heritage Act (NHA) does not have any provision for revocation of gazettal of a heritage site. Therefore, it would appear that unless the NHA is amended to allow for this, it is questionable if the Commissioner has the power to revoke a site which has already been gazetted; i.e. is this revocation ultra vires the Act?
Significance of the Heritage Site
So what can we find on Lots 45, 139 and the part of 158 which is identified in the Notice as MaTIC?
Lot 45 is used as a car park which services the tourism centre.
There is a modern five storey building housing the KL Tourism Office on the part of Lot 158 which has been gazetted.
Lot 139 is by far the largest lot. There are several other buildings on this lot, including the house of wealthy business tycoon Eu Tong Sen and the Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman. In keeping with the social standing of the owner Eu, many social activities were held in this house from the time it was built (1935) until the start of World War II. During WWII, it was used by the British, and then the Japanese army as a war office. In 1956, it was acquired and renovated by the government of Malaya, and in 1957, the installation of the first Agong was held there. In 1958 a conference hall, the first air conditioned hall in Kuala Lumpur, was added at the rear of the building.
In 1959, the first meeting of Parliament of the independent Malaya was held there. Following the building of the new Parliament House, by the early 1970s the original house and hall were converted to house the National Art Gallery for the next decade or so. In the 1980s and 1990s several new blocks were added; these include Saloma Bistro and retail stores serving visitors and tourists. In the mid 1980s, the conference hall was converted into a theatre. This ensemble of buildings that has served as the Tourist Information Centre for over 20 years is now known as MaTIC.
NHA and New Development Initiatives on a Heritage Site
Then there is the issue of new development on a heritage site. It is important to note that there is nothing in the NHA which precludes new development. As in the case of all applications for planning permission, owners will have to comply with guidelines and conditions imposed by the local authority – in this instance it will be Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL). When it comes to gazetted heritage sites however, there will be additional guidelines and conditions imposed by JWN in line with provisions found in paragraphs 40, 41 and 42 of the NHA, all of which could potentially affect the scale and nature of the proposed development. This would include the provision of a 200 meter “buffer” from the site boundaries for any new development to mitigate against any (negative) impact on the heritage values of the gazetted building and/or site.
One could speculate that this revocation is to redress the fact there are no heritage buildings on Lots 45 and 158, and therefore the gazettal should not have covered these two lots, only Lot 139 which has heritage properties. If this were the case, it would also beg the question why the Gazette in June 1026 included all three lots.
One would definitely expect a high level of rigour as well as resources in all endeavours to undertake the gazettal of any heritage site. The NHA provides for the process to include notification to the owner/s, an objection period, hearing and eventually, the decision to, or not to, designate a heritage site; and all along the way, there are clear steps to ensure the public are notified of these decisions in the printed press. This process takes time, and it has been our past experience that JWN does not take this responsibility lightly.
Badan Warisan Malaysia believes it is critical to understand the implications and legal ramifications of this Notice to revoke the designation as heritage of MaTIC.
Due process of the law has to be followed for the future protection of heritage sites in Malaysia.
Badan Warisan Malaysia
30 December 2016
Save My Heritage Initiative (#SMHI) is a platform created by Badan Warisan Malaysia to extend our message of heritage appreciation and conservation and to promote the significance and value the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Malaysia.
Working with cultural practitioners, heritage professionals and educators, #SMHI will introduce a varied programme with opportunities for people of all ages from school children, students, academics, professionals and the general public to participate in, and enhance their understanding and knowledge of our heritage. Activities will include talks and lectures, walks and visits to heritage places, training workshops, seminars and events for a wide audience to better understand and be involved in caring for their heritage.
Badan Warisan Malaysia has been championing our nation’s built and cultural heritage since 1982. Our role has been that of a civic trust, building preservation advocate, heritage consultancy and charitable institution with the mission to Educate, Engage and Empower our fellow Malaysians.
To complement and amplify our objectives we will soon launch a new website called SAVEMYHERITAGE.ORG which is an informative and interactive platform where the public can identify heritage assets under threat and generate support for them.
The series of talks and live presentations around the theme Save My Heritage will kick off on 30 July 2016 with Restoring Fort Alice by Ar. Mike Boon.
Talk By Dr Sandra Khor Manickam “Mr. Inquisitive”: Ivor H. N. Evans’ life in the Malay Peninsula and Borneo
“Mr. Inquisitive” was the title given by anthropologist Ivor H.N. Evans (1886-1957) to his autobiography before he changed it to the more straightforward title, “The Years Behind Me”. Housed in the University of Cambridge’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology archives, the manuscript has never been published.
Now, in conjunction with NIAS Press, an annotated version of the memoir relating to his travels in Malaya and Borneo is planned for future publication along with illustrations and maps where available. Evans has left an indelible mark on scholarship relating to Malaya and Borneo with his anthropological works on both areas and his involvement with the Federated Malay States Museums and journal. This talk will discuss selected chapters of his autobiography, what insights it brings to the workings of British Malaya and Borneo, and the complications of using biography to elucidate history.
About the Speaker:
Dr Sandra Khor Manickam is a historian of colonial Malaya, with an emphasis on the history of ideas of race and colonial anthropology of indigenous peoples, and the history of the Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia. She is currently Assistant Professor of Southeast Asian History at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and has held positions as Junior Professor in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main, Germany and Visiting Fellow in the Department of History, National University of Singapore. Her book, Taming the Wild: Aborigines and Racial Knowledge in Colonial Malaya (NUS Press) was published in 2015. She may be contacted at email@example.com
Many architectural heritages look back at a long and complex history. For example, during the colonial history, the old town of Malacca had been changed in particular by the Portuguese and by the Dutch.
These spatio-temporal changes of buildings and other built in structures as well as man-made environmental modifications are documented in cartographic works (maps and map like illustrations), old paintings and drawings, as well as historical documents such as books, diaries, treaties, letters and charters.
They involve not only changes of building geometries, but also semantic alterations as property owner, building usage, etc. But how can we make this information adequately understandable by the general public? A visual 3D representation of such evolving information can be one of the most appropriate and effective methods to communicate this history.
This talk by Dr Stefan Peters will highlight 3D modeling and reconstruction approaches for spatial heritages, choosing roman cities (Noma, Neapel, Nemi) and the historical town of Malacca as study cases. A special focus will be on procedural modeling, 3D cartographic web rendering, reconstruction uncertainty, and geocoded images in 3D. The presentation demonstrates technical perspectives and limitations.
About the Speaker:
Holding a PhD in Cartography, a Diploma Engineering Degree in Geodesy and Geoinformation, and a professional ‘Surveying and Catastre’ training certificate, Stefan Peters has a strong educational background in geographic data acquisition, geodata modelling, database management, data analysis, information retrieval, and cartographic visualization including web mapping.
With over 15 years of working experience in the field of Geomatics and Geoinformatics, specialising in geospatial data analysis and visualization, he has actively participated in various projects related to geological, land cover, land use, atmospheric and climate applications.
Dr Peters was Senior Lecturer at the Department of Geoinformation at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) until May 2016. Prior to that, he was a Research Associate at the Department of Cartography at the Technische Universität München (TUM) for more than six years where he was involved in several diverse GIS and Mapping projects as well as research activities. In addition to his teaching responsibilitieshe hwas coordinated and supervised a project related to an excavation in Italy including geodata acquisition, GIS-modelling, visualization of archaeological findings, and the 3D visual reconstruction of antique assemblies.
The discovery of these old batu nisan in the vicinity of Masjid Jamek is incredibly exciting as it is clear, tangible and unarguable evidence of the historical timeline of the development of this city and its early Muslim settlement at the trading post which is now this modern metropolis. The fact that several other type of artefacts such as ceramic bowls, glass and other items have also been found makes it even more imperative that a proper and systematic methodology for detailed mapping of the ground below in the whole area surrounding the mosque be undertaken immediately, before the area is disturbed further. Publicly sharing all such recording and documentation by historians and archaeologists will provide a rich picture of the social and cultural lifestyle of these early settlers and ultimately help create a better understanding and appreciation of the many different people and communities which were the backbone on which this city was founded.
Whether the batu nisan were found is within or outside of the boundary of the gazetted National Heritage Site of Masjid Jamek, should not be an impediment because the National Heritage Act 2005 gives the Heritage Commissioner the authority to stop work if it is deemed that items of national heritage significance will lost or negatively affected by this work. The area where the batu nisan have been found is definitely within the larger historic enclave where the majority buildings have been gazetted on the National Heritage Register.
While completing a new water fountain feature within the River of Life project is clearly important to the aspirations of the city’s authorities, a comprehensive multi-disciplinary study of this site is even more important to the city and its citizens. In many parts of the world, showcasing historical and archaeological investigations at such urban sites provide a “crowd-pulling” platform for locals and visitors alike. Cordoning off this area will more than anything likely enhance the attraction of the site and its surrounds.
Badan Warisan Malaysia hopes that the National Heritage Department will step up to the mark and lead in this research to ensure that the heritage value of this site is given its due recognition.
This presentation aims to share the experiences and know-how of deploying new technological tools and techniques in measuring 3D geometrical properties or metric information of heritage buildings in a more complete, accurate and speedy way.
Emerging technologies like terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) and digital photogrammetry will be discussed in the aspect of equipment, measurement accuracy, software solutions and implementation techniques. The session will also highlight how these technologies have revolutionised the visualization and accurate cum enduring documentation of heritage buildings.
The presentation will be demonstrated with real-life project execution methodologies and deliverables encompassing as-built drawings (façade, floor layout & section), point-cloud dataset, 3D mesh model, photo-realistic fly-thru and real-time 3D measurements in the virtual environment.
Lai Jiun Shyong
Graduated with a bachelor degree in land surveying from University of Technology Malaysia (UTM), Lai Jiun Shyong devoted most of his career life to the field of GIS and software development. He is a registered land surveyor with the Land Surveyors Board Malaysia and currently working as the Senior Technology Officer with Jurukur Perunding Services Sdn. Bhd.
THIS KUL CITY is back and this time, its a BATTLE!
Come watch Victorian Chacko Vadaketh and Johanian Zahim Albakri make their case for their alma mater!
If you are a Johanian or a Victorian, come show your support!
#SJIvsVI #heritagebattle #thiskulcity