FORMER Penang deputy chief minister Dr P. Ramasamy said the recent proposal to nominate new Chinese villages in Selangor as UNESCO World Heritage Sites makes sense as it carries economic advantages to sustain new Chinese villages.
“Given the limited lease given to the new Chinese villages, it makes sense to ponder about their future,” the United for the Rights of Malaysians (Urimai) interim council president reckoned in a statement on Tuesday (Feb 13).
“This is why Housing and Local Government Minister Nga Kor Ming had suggested the idea to confer them the UNESCO Heritage status. This way, these new villages, which are created during the British colonial period to ward off the communists, could be preserved for posterity.”
However, Ramasamy noted that Nga should have also suggested other historical sites such as Kampung Baru in Kuala Lumpur for consideration as well.
“While Nga’s suggestions have merit, he has not given the reasons why the new Chinese villages should be prioritised in getting recognition from UNESCO. He should not forget that there are other national and historical sites of immense heritage value that needs to be considered as well,” he stated.
“I really wonder what the relevant state and federal authorities are doing especially when there is an ongoing acrimonious debate about what sites should be recognised.
“It is requirement of UNESCO that applications for recognition be made by the government based on or two of the ten criteria.
“Does the application for the new Chinese villages to be considered as UNESCO Heritage Site fulfil one or two criteria of the requirements of the UN cultural agency?”
On this matter, Ramasamy further noted the oddity that there is a preoccupation with colonial and post-colonial historical sites rather than ancient ones.
He stressed that priority should be accorded to ancient structures and monuments given the fact that there are only five heritage sites that have the World Heritage status recognised by UNESCO.
“Compared to other UN agencies, UNESCO has the most number of signatories. It goes without saying that derivation of UNESCO Heritage status carries not just fame but the economic advantages of a tourist attraction,” he added.
ON Sunday (Feb 11), Nga said he will meet UMNO leaders to discuss his proposal to nominate new Chinese villages in Selangor as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
This follows statements from several UMNO leaders who claimed the proposal touched on the position of the Malay-Bumiputera community.
He said he has already contacted UMNO leaders to discuss this matter and invited them to engage in discussions so that they can deliberate and understand the facts on the matter. – Feb 13, 2024
Main pic credit: Astro Awani