Minister points out need to beef up laws on heritage buildings

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

SIBU: The state government has gazetted many forts and old structures across the state as heritage buildings.

In this regard, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah stresses on the need to tighten the laws aimed at preserving such heritage buildings, in view of several instances where some privately-owned buildings were given major facelifts or knocked down to make way for modern buildings.

“This (move) is to preserve these buildings as part of our heritage for our future generations to see, and also for tourism,” he told The Borneo Post here recently in response to a question about the state government taking steps to preserve colonial buildings for tourism, like those done in Singapore.

Meanwhile, a former travel agent Robert Tan said in most developed countries, old buildings would be considered ‘vintage properties’ and as such, they must be preserved.

“They would touch up (the buildings) a bit, but will keep and protect them. Even the owners are not allowed to conduct renovations. Any dealing must obtain the approval from the local authority.

“Australia is very particular (on this matter) – in no way can you change or renovate the heritage building. In Malaysia, we also practise the same thing but unfortunately, it works in a different way. “That’s not good for tourism,” he said, listing Lau King Howe Hospital Memorial Museum as one of the ‘vintage buildings’ here.

“It would have been much better if the authority could turn it into a war museum,” he opined.

Tan, a well-travelled man, said in Hainan, China there are war museums, which prove to be a very popular tourist attraction.

“We even have to pay for the entrance tickets. They also sell souvenirs.”

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