UNESCO proposal saga: “DAP should be more ‘sensitive’ to Malays’ feelings,” says Zaid

FORMER law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said any site on the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing should be kept to those that are not controversial in nature.

He said UNESCO sites are usually reserved either for natural, historical or cultural sites such as Mulu Caves and Melaka, and further questioned why places on the tentative list such as the Royal Belum State Park and the Sungai Buloh Leprosarium were not nominated instead.

The Royal Belum State Park is one of the world’s oldest rainforest, said to have been in existence for more than 130 million years old. The Sungai Buloh Leprosarium, meanwhile, has been known as one of the exceptional models in the liberation of leprosy institutions in the 20th century and also one of best treatment centres for leprosy.

“This is where DAP should be more ‘sensitive’ to the feelings of the Malays. It was not so long ago that the new villages were set up to isolate Chinese communist sympathisers,” Zaid penned in a post on X.

“These communist party was waging war in Malaya and feelings are still raw about how Chinese ‘chauvinists’ were fighting the Askar Melayu.

“Let’s keep UNESCO lists to the ones that are not controversial. There are six others we can consider on the tentative list. Even if you want to add new, (Housing and Local Government Minister Nga Kor Ming) should talk to the Malay representatives first, not inviting them to talk after controversy has started.”

Zaid said the difference between the current leaders and the earlier ones is that the earlier leaders “trust one another” and were “like family”.

“If they wanted certain ‘concessions’ from the other side, they would invite them for a discussion. They were not interested in double-talk or taking advantage of the other. I think they were more sincere,” he remarked.

On February 1, Nga reportedly said plans are being drawn up to nominate Chinese new villages in Selangor as a UNESCO World Heritage Site to recognise their cultural and historical significance.

Nga said the Selangor government and the government would soon discuss the details.

He also reportedly said that it has been 76 years since the new villages in Selangor were founded in 1948 and that he will engage with the state government to begin a study on (the nomination process).

New villages were created by British colonials during the Malayan Emergency as internment camps to separate hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chinese villagers from communist guerrillas.

They have since grown into residential villages and towns with a majority Chinese community in the decades since. – Feb 13, 2024

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