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Bujang Valley: Need for proof to be a heritage site?

 | May 26, 2016

DAP's P Ramasamy says the ancient site has heritage value important for Malaysia and the region.


GEORGE TOWN: Decades of prehistoric studies on Bujang Valley, Kedah, were probably done in vain if scientific proof was now required to mark the place as a heritage site, says DAP’s P Ramasamy.

He said if heritage status required evidential basis, then the question on how the valley achieved critical acclaim around the world needs to be explained.

“The site has heritage values important for Malaysia and the region.

“With the latest revelation, one can only wonder what decades of excavation work dating back to the British rule has yielded until today?”

Recently, Malaysian archaeologist Prof Mokhtar Saidin revealed two findings during a two-day Old Kedah conference in Sungai Petani, Kedah, recently.

One was that animism — rather than Hinduism or Buddhism — was the dominant form of worship in Bujang Valley more than 2,500 years ago.

Second, that the valley stands no chance of being gazetted by Unesco because there is no scientific research to date to verify that the temple ruins were Hindu or Buddhist structures.

Ramasamy, in response to comments directed against him for not attending the conference, said he had already put in some research into the site.

He said although he was accused of being “trapped in a religious context”, he was not disputing remarks made by the archeological expert.

“In my comment piece published, I was not disputing Prof Mokhtar. Animism could have been correlated to Hinduism and Buddhism in the period.

“I am not an expert. But as a lay man, I have a say on heritage, which has been my passion for some time.

“Commentators cannot say I am not an expert and cannot say anything.”

On a different note, Ramasamy said he is working together with Mokhtar on Penang’s first stone age gallery in Guar Kepah in Penaga, on the mainland.

Ramasamy said during his stint at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Iseas), Singapore, he had made plenty of trips to Bujang Valley for research and studied its link to the Chola Kingdom from India.

“Ten years ago, I also organised a conference on the Chola Kingdom, which led to the publication of ‘Chola Voyages’ by Iseas.

“I have also kept a close watch on the site, protesting when a developer demolished part of candi there recently,” he said.

Related stories:
No scientific proof of Hinduism-Buddhism in Bujang Valley?

Penang’s first stone age site gallery to open in 2017

Polarisation blamed for candi carnage


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