Monday, 23 December 2013

Desecration of Bujang Valley

Sin Chew Jit Poh
5 December 2013


Oh, the irony! The seventh of December will be the twenty fifth anniversary of  Malaysia becoming a party to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (or the World Heritage Convention in short); and what do we read in the papers? An ignoramus property developer has destroyed an ancient candi (temple) dating from the 8th Century.
The candi we are speaking about here lies in the Bujang Valley in Kedah and it is part of one of our most ancient archeological sites.  At the time of writing, we have no idea as to which incompetent government agency allowed for this development to occur on a site of such historical importance in the first place. And just to make it absolutely clear, this country’s government has a responsibility to protect all our heritage sites. Let me reproduce Article 4 of the World Heritage Convention of which we have been party since 1988.
“Each State Party to this Convention recognizes that the duty of ensuring the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage situated on its territory, belongs primarily to that State. It will do all it can to this end, to the utmost of its own resources and, where appropriate, with any international assistance and co-operation, in particular, financial, artistic, scientific and technical, which it may be able to obtain”.
It can’t be clearer than that. The government must protect the Lembah Bujang complex. It is clearly part of our heritage and it can easily be considered a world heritage too. I simply do not understand how a development project can be approved on the site.
Could it be that the Malaysian government has become so warped and twisted that they do not believe the site is worthy of protection because it is a Hindu site and not a Muslim site? After all it is quite clear that it is this country’s Islamic past which is considered to be more important than our Hindu and animistic past.
Perhaps, but there is no hard evidence of this. What we do know is that the necessary level of protection for this site was missing and now a valuable part of our history is gone forever.
In a country like ours, where most ancient buildings are made of wood and therefore rot away, it seems madness that we do not care for what little stone artifacts that we have. We are not as culturally rich as Java, with their beautiful temples like the Hindu Prambanan and Buddhist Borobudur. We therefore cannot be careless with what we do have.
I am extremely angry at this cultural desecration. I want to see all those responsible punished. I want to shame the government in charge of allowing this thing to happen. I am feeling this way not because I am Hindu, since I am not. I am doing this because I am Malaysian and I do not like to see idiots running rampant and destroying a part of my heritage and my history.

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