Monday, February 24

Govt confident Niah Caves will be World Heritage site soon — Talib

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PRESERVE OUR HERITAGE: Talib (carrying bucket) leading the delegates in cleaning the graffiti on one of the rock surfaces in Niah Caves.

NIAH: The state government has high hopes that the Niah Caves that sheltered early humans more than 40,000 years ago will be listed as a World Heritage site soon.

With this in mind, Assistant Minister for Tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip said the state government had sent all the necessary paper work to Unesco.

Saying the state would follow up on the matter, he pointed out that the listing was very important and would have far reaching benefits not only to the people in Sarawak and Malaysia but also to the world community.

Among the benefits, he said, are tourism attractions and development as the caves and park are already popular tourist attractions, and getting the caves listed as a World Heritage site could also attract conservation funding.

“While the government and the relevant agencies are doing their best to have the caves listed as historical site, and also continue becoming places of attraction, the people, particularly visitors to the caves, too must play their roles.

“Visitors, please stop the ‘modern paintings’ on the caves. It is very disgusting and insulting to the heritage,” he said.

Talib told reporters this on Tuesday before leading members of the Tourism Taskforce Group (TTG) Miri Division, staff of his ministry and the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) in the ‘gotong royong’ project to remove graffiti in the caves.

Among those present were Sibuti MP Ahmad Lai Bujang, deputy chairman of TTG Abdul Aziz Yusuf, who is also the Deputy Resident of Miri Division, SFC Miri head Abang Araby Abang Aimran, Niah Park warden Haidar Ali and the Miri coordinator of Totally Protected Areas Kamal Abdullah

Earlier, Talib and his entourage, who were given a briefing on the caves and the management of the Niah National Park by Haidar, were told that painting of graffiti in the caves was worsening. To this, Talib said they were acts of vandals, while urging SFC and the caves stake holders to take stern actions against the culprits.

“Strictly enforce the regulations and those found guilty should have their names published in the newspapers.

“The natural beauty of this place is the attraction. These include the paintings done thousands of years ago and as such visitors, particularly Sarawakians, should be proud of this heritage and help preserve them,” he urged.

Talib also proposed that SFC provide a visitors’ book apart from organising competitions to create greater appreciation for the caves and park.