Archive for the ‘Heritage Sites (schools)’ Category

SMK St Teresa hall catches fire, losses estimated at RM1 million

Sunday, October 30th, 2016
Fire destroyed the entire hall.

Fire destroyed the entire hall.

KUCHING: Fire destroyed the hall of 131-year-old SMK St Teresa here yesterday, causing losses of up to RM1 million.

Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) personnel reached the site at 5.07pm and extinguished the fire at 5.42pm.

According to Sister Patricia Chan, she was about to leave the all girls’ school when the fire broke out.

“We were having our meeting at the convent building nearby when it happened. We could only think of saving precious documents from our archives,” said teary-eyed Chan, who was worried about the SPM exam starting Nov 7.

“The fire was wild, and I was terrified. The ceiling was falling to the ground, and it was a scary sight.”

She thanked Bomba for their prompt response in containing the fire so that it would not spread to nearby school blocks.

Principle Mary John said the hall was undergoing a major renovation to its roofing and ceiling at a cost of RM200,000.

She added that the exams had to be done in the classrooms now, not in the hall as planned.

“However, the hall housed our text book room and PA system equipment, which were totally destroyed.”

Also razed were tables and chairs inside the hall; they were recently donated by former students.

“I have yet to look at the staff room to assess the level of damage,” Chan said.

The rewiring of the hall was done in 2012.

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Penang Free School Hopes To Receive Heritage Status In Time For 200th Anniversary

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

GEORGE TOWN, March 10 (Bernama) — The oldest English school in Southeast Asia, Penang Free School (PFS) at Jalan Masjid Negeri here, is hoping to receive the heritage site status in time for its 200th anniversary on Oct 21.

PFS Board of Governor chairman Datuk Abdul Rafique Karim said the school had applied for the heritage site status for its building from the National Heritage Board two years ago.

“I was told by the National Heritage Board that the state government has the final say in the gazettement of the school as a heritage site,” he told reporters after the launch of the school newly-refurbished archive here Thursday.

He said, once granted, the school, which was established on Oct 21, 1816, would also be eligible to receive conservation grants from heritage-related authorities for conservation and preservation purposes.


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Build on our collective past for progress

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

EVERY time the National Heritage Register gets a new entry, we ought to be delighted. It means another important piece of the Malaysian mosaic has come under the protection of the National Heritage Act.

Hopefully, it will not be long before the Vivekananda Ashram in Brickfields is listed in the register as well.

The Government wants the 110-year-old building to be declared a heritage site and the process has already begun with the dispatch of notices to the ashram’s management committee and the local authority.

According to Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, who announced the decision in Dewan Rakyat on Monday, the ashram can be gazetted as a heritage site as early as March next year if there are no objections. Otherwise, there will have to be hearings and the minister will decide on the matter in October.

We will have to see if the management committee or others will resist the government’s move.

Several years ago, the National Heritage Department had taken the first steps towards declaring the ashram a national heritage site, but could not go far because the owners had not consented.

The ashram is on a piece of land that is slated for a property development project that includes a 23-storey residential tower and an eight-storey car park. This has led to a groundswell of protests, despite the ashram’s board of trustees assuring that the building will not be torn down.

Clearly, to many people, the ashram is more than just an old structure. An online petition against the property project describes the ashram as an “iconic spiritual and historical landmark”.

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Penang Free School’s past recounted

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

The White Crocodile’s Tale is a memoir written by John Michael Broome Hughes, a British teacher at the Penang Free School who later became its headmaster

KUALA LUMPUR: IF the walls of the Penang Free School could talk, it would have endless tales of its illustrious students, like the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, Datuk Eddy Choong and Tan Sri P. Ramlee.

The success of the school and its famous sons in its 198-year existence is, of course, a testament to its educators.

From its founding, the school has been blessed with men and women who have shaped the future leaders and stars of this country. Among them, was John Michael Broome Hughes, who had two stints in Penang Free School, which he talks about fondly in his memoir titled The White Crocodile’s Tale.

Chapters of the memoir detailed how a young Michael came to Penang in 1948, looking forward to a fresh start after World War 2, as a First Assistant European Master.

Michael describes how Penang and its people, especially his students, had left an impression on him.

There was the gifted scholar, Lim Chong Keat and Tengku Ahmad Rithauddin, who was described as “the essence of charm and politeness”, as well as the funny Teng Lye Hock.

Michael believed that to teach his students, he had to know them first, and saw an opportunity through Geography Society outings.

He shares memories of the wonderful time he spent with his students during these outings, such as hiking Penang Hill, swimming in the Sungai Pinang waterfall and even an expedition to Langkawi.

During the expedition, the team had stayed in the rest house in which two students from Kedah were also staying in.

Michael recalled that his “tribe of Hokkien-speaking boys” made so much noise, that the two students moved out.

It was only later that Michael discovered that one of these two Kedahans was a young man who would later become Malaysia’s fourth prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Four years later, Michael would serve in the Malay College Kuala Kangsar, the Sultan Ismail College, then known as Ismail English School and Klang High School before returning to the Penang Free School, only this time, as its headmaster.

It was during this stint as headmaster that the school won the first ever Agong’s Cup, a prestigious badminton tournament.

Michael also tried to raise money to build a swimming pool for the school through organising a fun-fair, hoping it would be an annual affair.

He left the school in 1963, when its first local headmaster Boon Lin took over the reigns. Michael’s farewell saw all students and staff trek Penang Hill for a farewell picnic.

In a review of her father’s book, Mary Olwen Hughes said her father’s love for Malaysia began in Penang.


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Preserving the country’s heritage sites should involve everyone

Monday, December 9th, 2013

EVERY year, thousands of Malaysian tourists throng Angkor Wat in Cambodia. But it is safe to say that many of them have not even heard of an equally historic Hindu temple site right at their doorstep – Candi No 11 in Lembah Bujang, Kedah.

Last week, the demolition of the remains of the 1,200-year-old tomb temple to make way for a housing project would have gone unnoticed if not for heritage NGO Bujang Valley Study Circle chairman and researcher Datuk V. Nadarajan, who lodged a police report after conducting a study at the site and finding it destroyed.

The news reports that ensued led to a nationwide uproar, forcing the developer who demolished the candi to halt work at the historical site.

All Malaysians need to play a role in the preservation of the country’s heritage, urges Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Centre for Global Archaeological Research (CGAR) director Prof Dr Mokhtar Saidin.

It is not only to prevent a similar incident happening to another local heritage site, but also to encourage more archaeological discoveries in the country.

In Sungai Batu alone, there is so much more archaeology material to be discovered, Prof Mokhtar shares.

His archaeology team, for one, has unearthed valuable economic evidence in the area, which is believed to have been a full-fledged kingdom in its heyday.

“Right now, we have a more solid interpretation of Lembah Bujang. Before this, it was only known for its candi,” says Prof Mokhtar.

by Josephine Jalleh.

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Candi controversy: Heritage body hits out at developer

Friday, December 6th, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Heritage Trust (Badan Warisan) has hit out at the developer who allegedly destroyed the eighth-century candi in Bujang Valley, saying he should rebuild it if he has “any guilty conscience”.

Its president Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid said for the developer to plead ignorance was “no plea at all”.

“I’m very disappointed. It’s surprising that the developer could claim he didn’t know of its existence,” he said.

“He should pay to restore it if he has any guilty conscience,” Ahmad Sarji said in an interview after launching the book Chronicle of Malaysia 1963-2013 here yesterday.

Ahmad Sarji, who is Permodalan Nasional Bhd chairman, commended the Kedah government for issuing a stop work order and urged the relevant authorities to quickly declare the area a protected heritage site.

“Regulatory bodies must look into this issue and enforce the National Heritage Act,” he said.

Ahmad Sarji expressed regret that the destruction had took place despite the work carried out to restore the area previously.

The candi in Bujang Valley was allegedly unknowingly destroyed by a housing developer during land clearing.

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Save our vale of ancient history

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

IF the callous demolition of an ancient temple in Kedah’s Bujang Valley is a sacrilege, the ignorance of its significance is a pathetic excuse.

It beggars belief that the ruins (referred to as “candi” in Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia) were reduced to a pile of rubble by a housing developer.

The management of Bandar Saujana Sdn Bhd, which had bought over the 36ha of land from another firm, claimed it was not aware that the site was historical.

The project was apparently approved by the Sungai Petani municipal council and endorsed by the state government between 1994 and 1995.

The new company claimed it had done searches and found no caveats or encumbrances on the land.

Kedah state exco member Mohd Rawi Abd Hamid said he did not know how the plan was approved and that council officers could have overlooked the value of the site.

Maybe so, since most Malaysians don’t know much about the country’s oldest historical site.

British colonial officer Lt Col James Low, who stumbled upon it in 1840, wrote about the “undoubted relics of a Hindoo colony, with ruins of temples and mutilated images extending along the talus (sloping mass of rocky fragments) of the Kedda mountain Jerrei”.

Archaeological digs, however, only began 14 years later in 1854.

Over the years, vestiges of about 80 candi, stupas and other structures were discovered over an area stretching from Gunung Jerai to Sungai Muda along with potshards, pieces of porcelain and beads — all evidence of a thriving area of trade.

The main remnants were taken apart and rebuilt around the Lembah Bujang Archaeological Museum.

About 1,000 pieces of artefacts, iron implements and relics dating back to the time when Hinduism and Buddhism were the main religions in the region are displayed in and around the museum.

In 2009, an archaeological team from Universiti Sains Malaysia led by leader Prof Dr Mokhtar Saidin discovered the main site of an ancient Hindu kingdom from the third century. It predated the Angkor temples of Cambodia, making it the oldest civilisation in the region.

The team found remains of iron ore furnaces, forges and slag, proving that the people there had already acquired the technology of large-scale iron smelting.

Oxford University’s Prof Stephen James Oppenheimer, an expert in the synthesis of DNA studies with archaeological evidence, said South-East Asian history might need to be rewritten after the findings.

He said for the last 2,000 years, the story was that Indonesia was predominant with its Sri Vijaya and Majapahit empires, along with kingdoms in Vietnam and Thailand.

Records show that there were already several Chinese and Indian kingdoms north of the peninsula in the second and third centuries, linked to rich maritime trade routes.

Kedah was known to early Tamils as Kedaram or Kataha in Sanskrit and Cheh-Cha to the Chinese.

The name Bujang is most likely linked to Bhunjanga (serpent or cobra in Sanskrit, probably because of the shape of the river running through the valley where the kingdom of Kedaram was situated).

Trading helped to forge closer links between the people and familiarity with Hinduism and Buddhism, while cultural and religious practices and languages such as Sanskrit and Tamil widened across the region.

by M. Veera Pandiyan.

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All set to become a culture, arts hub.

Monday, May 27th, 2013

HERITAGE: George Town is poised to be the stage for an arts and culture festival with the entire city serving as the backdrop and venue for events and performances, writes Looi Sue-Chern.

THE entire George Town will be the stage for the month-long George Town Festival (GTF) 2013, from June 7 to July 7.

The city’s old pre-war houses, shoplots, heritage buildings and even kaki lima (five-foot way) will host the festival’s numerous art exhibitions, talks, forums and performances.

While the art pieces and performances dazzle their audience, the venues — including those with old paint peeling off their walls and cracked floors — will give the people a rare chance to feel and experience the pulse, spirit and history of George Town.

GTF director Joe Sidek said the festival would be taking a rather unconventional approach by holding events at unlikely venues, instead of inside convention centres, halls or theatres.

With George Town, a Unesco World Heritage site, as the “backdrop” for the whole festival, he said the venues would be community and public spaces, where everyone could enjoy the events and interact with each other.

“Art should not be disconnected from the people … that is why we aim to bring art and culture to the people. There is a perception that people who appreciate art are those from privileged backgrounds. Some still think that going to see an art performance requires them to be in tuxedos … not in this George Town Festival,” he said in an interview.

Nine more schools to be gazetted

Friday, August 20th, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: Three schools, each in Johor, Malacca and Taiping are among 16 schools to be gazetted as heritage sites.

The Taiping schools in the list are King Edward VII (1883) and Convent (1955) — both primary schools — and St George’s Institution (1915) while the ones in Malacca are Alor Gajah (1900), St Francis and Banda Hilir (1908) primary schools.

Muar (1902), Segamat (1926) and Batu Pahat (1914) high schools have also been recommended by the National Heritage commissioner Prof Emeritus Datuk Siti Zuraina Abdul Majid as heritage sites. Penang Free School (1816), which is the oldest school in Southeast Asia, Clifford School in Kuala Lipis (1913), and Anderson School of Ipoh (1909) are also in, as is SK Tunku Putra in Baling, Kedah, which hosted the Baling peace talks of 1955. The others are the old block of Ampangan primary school in Seremban, Holy Infant Jesus, Bukit Nenas, and SM Convent in Klang.

Zuraina said a proclamation ceremony would be held in November where the schools would either be named as “Heritage Sites” or “National Heritage Sites”.

National Heritage Sites were chosen by Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and the National Heritage Department names the Heritage Sites. Three schools have already been accorded Heritage Site status. These are St John’s Institution (Kuala Lumpur), St Michael’s Institution (Ipoh) and the old block of SM King George V in Seremban.

Malay College Kuala Kangsar’s big school building and Victoria Institution were awarded the National Heritage status.

Zuraina said the schools were selected according to the National Heritage Act 2005.
“Many are of the opinion that heritage schools are chosen because of their age. That is not necessarily true. There are schools that are not more than a 100 years old but meet the cut like the Clifford school in Kuala Lipis.

“We consider schools that have historical significance and strongly associated to Malaysian history. The school, too, must have a good design or aesthetic characteristics.”

by Halimatul Hamid.

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