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Calls for heritage buildings in Kelantan to be restored

Last Update: 05/06/2019

KOTA BHARU, June 5 -- Traversing the cultural zone of Kota Bharu recently, brought us to historic buildings such as the Stone Palace, War Museum, Craft Museum and Handicraft Village, all of which were sadly in a state of disrepair.

A visit by Bernama to these majestic buildings found them to be in disrepair and dirty - with some parts so off-putting that one wouldn’t want to set foot inside. 

Shabby paint work, missing roof tiles which have caused leaks, and broken wooden carvings are some of the signs of dilapidation which met the eye. 

It’s no wonder that local and foreign tourists alike who were seen visiting the buildings were disappointed.

Izzati Rahman, 23, an anthropology and sociology master’s student, said there was a need for heritage buildings and artefacts to be restored and well maintained, as history once lost cannot be viewed in the flesh.

The younger generation, she said, would benefit from such buildings, as they would bring to life what was learnt through textbooks. 

Nur Atiqah Zulkifli, 21, a third year psychology student, agreed with Izzati, calling for video screenings on artefacts to be held for visitors before they actually viewed the objects.   

“This will make the visit more meaningful and help visitors better appreciate the objects,” she said, calling on the management of heritage buildings and artefacts to also spruce up the buildings to make them appear more inviting.

The Tourism Malaysia director for Kelantan, Hafiz Hazin, said while he was proud that Kelantan had become a cultural centre so much so that the Mak Yong, a traditional theatre form, had received UNESCO recognition in 2005, he was saddened by the fact that exhibits in the state have not been able to aptly capture the way of life or culture of communities.   

Kelantan Museum director Ariffin Hussin shared the view that heritage buildings and their artefacts need to be restored and preserved.

He noted, however, that while the buildings came under the purview of the state museum, difficulties arose because the buildings are private property and therefore, any works to be undertaken on the buildings, need the prior approval of the owners.

Another challenge is the fact that the museum is facing a funding shortage thus affecting its ability to undertake restoration works. 

While the museum received a RM2 million allocation this year from the state government to undertake restoration works, it had only received RM500,000 so far, he said, adding that the museum needed to source for funds itself.

In the meantime, Arrifin said the museum would improve the compound of the buildings, particularly the Stone Palace, with attractive landscaping.

State museum authorities are undertaking restoration works on the War Museum building located near Padang Merdeka -- parts of the building were damaged by a flood a few years ago, he said.

Built in 1912, the building initially housed Kelantan’s first bank, called The Mercantile Bank of India Ltd, In 1992, but was repurposed as a memorial to the landing of the first Japanese troops to invade the country during the Second World War.  

Handicraft Foundation manager Hashim Ibrahim shares the sentiments of the other heritage lovers.  

“We need to source for our own funds to undertake restoration and upgrading works,” he said.



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