‘Bongkissam shrine will be relocated’

Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

KUCHING: The Museum Department has submitted a proposal to the state government for an area where Bongkissam shrine should be located and also be gazetted as a heritage site.

Santubong MP Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, in saying this, however said the state government had yet to deliberate on the proposal.

“The department has submitted a proposal where the Bongkissam shrine in Santubong should be sited and duly gazetted. Though it is included in the list of state heritage sites, we are still waiting for the state government to gazette it,” he said when contacted yesterday.

On the size of the proposed heritage site, Wan Junaidi said he had yet to find out, but nevertheless, the state government would have its own method to determine the area.

Wan Junaidi, who is also Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, also gave his assurance that the historical Bongkissam shrine in his constituency was not under threat despite the ongoing land development activity within its vicinity.

“At the moment, it is not being disturbed although there is ongoing development opposite the shrine, which is a project to pave the way for a village extension,” he said.

Sarawak 4 Sarawakians (S4S) campaigner Karen Shepherd recently expressed her concern that the extension project carried out across the road from the shrine was executed without conducting any archaeological investigation.

According to her, the land-clearing might have caused the destruction of priceless artifacts of universal historic and research significance because the Bongkissam shrine, which dated back to between 10th and 13th century and was uncovered in the 1960s, had several objects found there which were currently on display at the Sarawak Museum. Among them, a silver ritual box and 142 gold objects.

This, she said, suggested that the site was of sacred significance at one time – making it one of the most significant archaeological finds in Sarawak and perhaps, in Asean.

On this, Wan Junaidi said he had spoken with museum director Ipoi Datan, and would be relying on the department on their findings.

“He (Ipoi) has sent officers to inspect the area in question and at the same time, has also informed me that the Bongkissam shrine was not being disturbed.”

Meanwhile, it is understood that Pantai Damai assemblyman Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi will be meeting up with the Museum Department officials next week to discuss the matter.

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