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Concern over bid to revoke heritage status
Published on: Tuesday, January 03, 2017
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PETALING JAYA: Conservation groups have expressed "surprise and concern" over a move to revoke the heritage status of the Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC) and Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman in Jalan Ampang.Once used for the installation of the country's first Agong as well as its first Parliament meeting, the sites have been stripped of their status in a notice published in several newspapers on Dec 28.

The notice listed these sites as "Lot 45 Section 58, Lot 139 Section 58, and part of Lot 158 Section 57, The Old Building of Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC)".

It stated that it was revoking their designation as previously published in another notice on June 16 this year under powers conferred by Paragraph 31(2)(a) of the National Heritage Act. The notice was signed by Heritage Commissioner Dr Zainah Ibrahim, according to the Star.

Heritage of Malaysia Trust president Elizabeth Cardosa said there was no provision in the Act for the revocation of a heritage site gazette.

"Unless the Act is amended to allow for this, it is questionable if the commissioner has the power to revoke a heritage site which has already been gazetted and if that is so, this revocation is ultra vires the Act," she said.

Cardosa said the buildings had huge historical significance to the country.

"What is now referred to as MaTiC was in the past called Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman.

This complex of buildings along Jalan Ampang has had many historical uses since it was built in 1935," she said.

The main building, originally the house of wealthy businessman Eu Tong Seng, became a centre for many social activities in Kuala Lumpur in pre-World War II.

During the war, it was used by the British and Japanese armies as a war office. In 1956, it was acquired by the government of Malaya.

"It was renovated and the installation of the first Agong was held here in 1957. In 1959, it was used for the first meeting of Parliament of the independent Malaya," said Cardosa.

She said that while the gazette as a heritage site did not preclude new development on the site, the department had guidelines on its scale and nature in line with other provisions in the Act, including application for planning permission.

In a statement, the department said the declaration of MaTiC and Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman – located at Lot 139 Section 58 – as a heritage site had been done together with the declaration for Lot 45 Section 58 and a part of Lot 158 Section 57 nearby.

The revocation, it said, was done according to the law, adding however that it was also in the process of issuing a notice of intention to declare MaTiC and Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman as heritage sites.

"The department is also carrying out other processes for the gazette of the site according to the law under the Act with the consent of the state authorities for further action.

"We will continue to ensure the heritage sites involved will be preserved," it said.

MaTiC was first gazetted on the National Heritage register on June 16 based on two main criteria – that it was historically important and for its architectural and aesthetic character.



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