Friday, July 30, 2010
Our Heritage Destroyed
Further to my earlier posting on Heritage buildings in Kuala Lumpur, here is a row of pre-war shophouses in Tengkat Tong Shin, Bukit Bintang destroyed for commercial gains. Back in year 2000, these shophouses were dilapidated and falling apart. Then, the owner had the wisdom to repair them and offered them off for rental. The earlier tenants were all restaurants, which included a Sao Nam Vietnamese restaurant, Thai restaurant the Old Siam and a friends venture called Jiak Guan. All but Sao Nam lasted only a few years.
Later, several other restaurants came and went. At last, they were taken over by a massage joint. The massage joint operator saw fit to build something at the front of the shops resembling some shack from Thailand.... or is it Bali? This would apparently attract tourists to have a massage inside. Why tourists who come to Malaysia will be attracted by Thai or Balinese architecture really defeats me....
Sao Nam is the yellow restaurant on the right of the picture below.
Right next door, an Arab entrepreneur has taken over the former Nyonya restaurant and turned it into a backpackers inn... that resembles Aladdin's den? The sign on the shop stating that the shop was built in 1939 totally evaded him. This same entrepreneur also destroyed 2 other shops in the same area with the same design.
On the 15th of December 2006, a historical mansion called Bok House in Jalan Ampang was demolished. There was a huge outcry. Our government is supposed to gazette these buildings as heritage buildings and prevent any form of destruction to them and preserve them. But how are we supposed to protect our heritage buildings when we have idiots like Rais Yatim as the Culture Minister?
Shortly after Bok House was demolished, he was reported to have said "The cost of rehabilitating Bok House will be high and there is no significant history or aesthetic value attached to the building"
"The Government could also not save Bok House from being demolished because it is privately-owned and not registered as a heritage building."
The list of registered heritage buildings in Malaysia is in fact determined by the government.