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Heritage status plan is aborted
Published on: Saturday, July 06, 2024
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Heritage status plan is aborted
The 100-year-old Gurdwara Sahib in Tanjung Aru.
Kota Kinabalu: An attempt to seek Heritage status for the 100-year-old Gurdwara Sahib and the land on which it sits in Tanjung Aru failed at an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) called by the Kinabalu Singh Sabha Association Sabah (KSSA) last Sunday.

The temple is believed to be the Sikh community’s oldest in Borneo and part of the reason that prompted seeking heritage status was infestation by termites.

The only item on the agenda at the Indian Association Hall was to seek the approval of members to amend or revive a previous resolution that was passed in a bi-annual General Meeting (BIGM) in June 2023 not to gazette the temple.

However, the move for Heritage status was met with great opposition by elders and senior members of the KSSA that saw a turnout of over 95 ordinary and associate members.

According to sources, Datuk Balwant Singh Kler, Datuk Dr Charanjeet Singh a/l Isher Singh, Senior Lawyer Baldev Singh, Prof. Dr Balvinder Kaur Kler and historian Avtar Singh Sandhu presented arguments against passing such a resolution.

Balwant traced the history of the Gurdwara and that it was built with the donations and efforts of Sikh policemen of the North Borneo Constabulary who lived at the old Batu Tiga Police Camp whilst Baldev urged greater thought and considerations on the negative aspects of Heritage status.

Avtar argued that the Heritage Status Enactment of 2017 was designed for ancient archaeological sites such as the ancient Kadazan burial site in Pogunon in Penampang and Tengkorak Hill in Lahad Datu, which contained ancient artifacts that were historically significant to Malaysia.

He said the Heritage Status Enactment was never created for the purpose of bestowing such status on religious prayer halls and temples that were still being utilised by communities. 

“It was introduced for the preservation and protection of archaeological sites,” he said.  

After listening to the arguments, KSSA President Datuk Ram Singh agreed to remove the item from the agenda and to end any interest at this point in time in seeking Heritage Status for the Gurdwara.

This was met with great approval by the members of KSSA who feared loss of control over their prayer hall and buildings to the Museum.

Ram apologised to members for any mistakes and promised greater transparency in the future.

The proposal for the formation of a building sub-committee and a public funding sub-committee were approved by the members of KSSA and members appointed to these sub-committees on the same day to begin the process of repairing the existing prayer hall (darbar) immediately with the assistance of professionals.

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