‘Need to review state’s policy, framework on heritage assets’

Abdul Karim (second right) with SHS executive committee members, including president Robert Jacob (second left).

KUCHING: Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah believes that the state’s policy, legislative and regulatory framework on heritage assets and the Heritage Ordinance need to be revisited.

“This is to ensure that heritage management is consistent and coordinated with a clear partition of scope, not overlapping with that of the Sarawak Museum’s,” he said.

Acknowledging the delicate tension between heritage conservation and development, Abdul Karim believed that a pragmatic balance between economic development and conservation could be achieved when a proper heritage management framework is in place.

He made these remarks after receiving a courtesy call from Sarawak Heritage Society (SHS) executive committee members at his office in Bangunan Baitulmakmur in Petra Jaya here recently.

Through a press statement yesterday, SHS said with innovative planning and adaptive reuse, integrity of the state’s cultural and built heritage would not have to be compromised.

SHS explored a variety of heritage management issues with the minister and found that its views were generally in sync with the state government’s plans and intentions for Sarawak heritage management.

Among the areas proposed was a built heritage baseline study, using independent consultants that would include a technical assessment of buildings and documenting heritage assets within defined ‘heritage zones’ of Kuching.

The results of such a study would provide valuable input for heritage management, city planning and urban rejuvenation.

SHS also requested for allocation of more government funds to maintain listed government-owned heritage sites as well as incentivise private owners to maintain their heritage assets.

Abdul Karim acknowledged a common shared vision and encouraged members of SHS and Sarawak Museum to hold further discussions for future collaborations.

Led by their president Dato Sri Robert Jacob Ridu, the SHS delegation’s visit on Friday was a follow-up to a recent meeting with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Also present at the courtesy call were Tazudin Mohtar and Harry Johia, representatives of the Sarawak Museum.

SHS was set up as a non-partisan, non-governmental and non-profit organisation in 2007. Its mission is to promote the conservation, permanent preservation and sustainable management of Sarawak’s unique cultural heritage assets, both tangible (buildings, monuments, sites, cultural landscapes, objects) and intangible (traditional arts and crafts, customs and traditions, food).

More details can be obtained via sarawakheritagesociety.com and the SHS Facebook page.

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