Explain destruction at Malaysia’s richest historical site, opposition MP tells Mukhriz, Najib
Padang Serai MP N. Surendran.
Padang Serai MP N. Surendran.
By The Malaysian Insider

Kuala Lumpur, Dec 2–An opposition lawmaker today demanded Putrajaya and first-term Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir break their silence over the destruction of historic ruins in Lembah Bujang in Kedah by a developer.

Padang Serai MP N. Surendran (pic) said that the destroyed tomb or candi No. 11 was a tangible part of the country’s history, adding that it was impossible to comprehend the fact that the area was not gazetted as a historical site.

Lembah Bujang, or Bujang Valley, is Malaysia’s richest archaeological area. It sprawls over approximately 224 square km and is situated near Merbok, Kedah, between Gunung Jerai in the north and Sungai Muda in the south.

“How could the Federal Government and Kedah government allow this to happen? The state government’s excuse that the land was privately owned is pathetic and unacceptable.

“Why did the Kedah authorities approve the development, knowing full well that the area is historically significant?”

Surendran accused the Kedah administration and authorities of “displaying breathtaking irresponsibility and cultural philistinism in allowing the development to proceed”.

“What is the use of having a Ministry of Culture and Tourism if the nation’s heritage is so easily destroyed for profit? How do we answer for this cultural vandalism to future generations of Malaysians?” the Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president said in a statement today.

He also called on the state and federal administration to formulate urgent and effective steps to protect the Lembah Bujang archaelogical site, demanding that the state government issue an immediate stop work order over development projects at the historical site.

“We further call for the urgent preservation of the debris and wreckage of candi No. 11 with a view towards repair and full restoration.

“Meanwhile, both Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Mukhriz must break their silence on this matter as the public is entitled to an explanation,”  he said.

“It is a shame and embarrassment to our country,” he said, highlighting that the Federal Government also has a duty to ensure that historically significant sites were preserved.

“This they have failed  miserably in the case of Lembah Bujang.”

The Kedah government yesterday told The Malaysian Insider that it could not stop a developer from harming ancient tombs at the historic temple site because the area was privately owned.

Noting that the incident attracted a lot of negative criticisms, Kedah Youth and Sports, Arts, Culture and Heritage and Non-governmental Organisations Committee chairman Aminuddin Omar said the 1,200-year-old site was also not gazetted as a historical site.

“The Lembah Bujang area is huge and parts of it are being studied by Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Global Archaeological Research,” said Aminuddin, who said state exco Datuk Tajul Urus Mat Zain was discussing with the university’s Professor Mokhtar Saidin on the matter.

The act was also condemned by non-governmental organisation Badan Warisan Malaysia, describing it as “disgraceful”.

Professor Jimmy Lim Cheok Siang, who is the sole surviving founding member of Badan Warisan Malaysia, said the Kedah government must act to stop development at the site, and urged the ruins to be archaeologically restored at all costs.

“The state authorities should not have approved this development. They should have consulted or referred the matter to the appropriate heritage authorities in Putrajaya or relevant organisations like Badan Warisan Malaysia.”

Badan Warisan Malaysia is seeking to get the area listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The destruction of candi or tomb No. 11, which was by Sungai Batu, was discovered by researcher Datuk V. Nadarajan, who was conducting a study on the Lembah Bujang site.

He has since lodged a police report on the matter.

–Taken from The Malaysian Insider